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Antonn Dvok

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"Dvok" redirects here. For other uses, see Dvok (disambiguation).


Antonn Dvok
Antonn Leopold Dvok (/dvrk/ DVOR-zhahk or /dvrk/ di-VOR-zhak; Czech: ntoin
lopolt dvor k ( listen); September 8, 1841 May 1, 1904) was a Czechcomposer. Following
the nationalist example of Bedich Smetn, Dvok frequently employed fetures of the folk
music of Moravia and his native Bohemia (then parts of theAustrian Empire and now constituting
the Czech Republic). Dvok's own style hs been described s 'the fullest recretion of
national idiom with that of the symphonic tradition, absorbing folk influences and finding effective
ways of using them'.
[1]

Born in Nelahozeves, Dvok displyed his musicl gifts at an early age. His first surviving
work, Forget-Me-Not Polka in C (Polka pomnnka) was written possibly as early as 1855.
[2]
He
graduated from the organ school in Prague in 1859.
[3]
In the 1860s, he played as a violist in the
Bohemian Provisional Theater Orchestra and taught piano lessons. In 1873, he married Anna
ermkov, nd left the orchestr to pursue nother creer s church orgnist. He wrote
severl compositions during this period. Dvok's music attracted the interest of Johannes
Brahms, who assisted his career; he was also supported by the critics Eduard Hanslick and Louis
Ehlert.
After the premiere of his cantata Stabat Mater (1880), Dvok visited the United Kingdom nd
became popular there; his Seventh Symphony was written for London. After a brief conducting
stint in Russi in 1890, Dvok ws ppointed s professor t the Prague Conservatory in 1891.
In 1892, Dvok moved to the United Sttes nd becme the director of the National
Conservatory of Music of America in New York City, where he also composed. However,
shortfalls in payment of his salary, along with increasing recognition in Europe and an onset of
homesickness made him decide to return to Bohemia. From 1895 until his death, he composed
mainly operatic and chamber music. At his death, he left several unfinished works.
Among Dvok's best known works are his From The New World Symphony, the "American"
String Quartet, the opera Rusalka and his Cello Concerto in B minor. Among his smaller works,
the seventh Humoresque and the song 'Songs my mother taught me' are also widely performed
and recorded. He composed operas, choral music, a wide variety of chamber music, concerti and
many other orchestral and vocal and instrumental pieces. He has been described as 'arguably
the most versatile...composer of his time'.
[4]

Contents
[hide]
1 Biography
o 1.1 Early years
o 1.2 Composer and organist
o 1.3 International reputation
o 1.4 The United States
o 1.5 Return to Europe and last years
2 Style
3 Works
o 3.1 Numbering
o 3.2 Symphonies
o 3.3 Symphonic poems
o 3.4 Choral works
o 3.5 Concerti
o 3.6 Chamber music
o 3.7 Operas
o 3.8 Songs
o 3.9 Other works
4 Influence
o 4.1 Influence in America
o 4.2 Notable students
5 References
6 External links
Biography[edit]
Early years[edit]


Birthhouse of Antonn Dvok in Nelahozeves
Dvok ws born in Nelahozeves, near Prague (then part of Bohemia in the Austrian Empire, now
Czech Republic), the eldest son of Frntiek Dvok (18141894) and his wife Anna, ne
Zdekov (18201882).
[5]
Frntiek ws n innkeeper, professionl plyer of the zither, and a
butcher. Anna was the dughter of Josef Zdenk, the bailiff of Prince Lobkowitz.
[6]
Anna and
Frntiek mrried on November 17, 1840.
[7]
Dvok ws the first of fourteen children, eight of
whom survived infancy.
[8]
Dvok ws bptized s Romn Ctholic in the church of St. Andrew
in the villge. Dvok's yers in Nelhozeves nurtured the strong Christin fith nd love for his
Bohemian heritage that so strongly influenced his music.
[9]
In 1847, Dvok entered primry
school and learned to play violin from his teacher Joseph Spitz. Frntiek ws plesed with his
son's gifts. At the ge of 13, through the influence of his fther, Dvok ws sent to Zlonice to live
with his uncle Antonn Zdenk in order to lern the German language. Contrary to the belief of
some early biographers, Jarmil Burghauser demonstrated that the famous "Butcher Certificate"
ws fke nd tht Dvok never qualified to enter the butchering trade.
[10]



Antonn Dvok in 1868
Dvok took orgn, pino nd violin lessons from his Germn lnguge techer Anton Liehmann.
Liehmann also taught the young boymusic theory and was introduced to the composers of the
time, for whom Dvok gve much regrd despite Liehmnn's violent temper. Liehmnn was the
church organist in Zlonice and sometimes let Antonin play the organ at services.
[11]
Dvok took
further organ and music theory lessons with Franz Hanke at esk Kmenice, who encouraged
his musical talents even further and was more sympathetic. At the age of 16, through the urging
of Liehmnn nd Zdenk, Dvok ws llowed by Frntiek to become musicin, on the
condition that the young boy should build a career as an organist.
[12]
After leaving for Prague in
September 1857, Dvok entered the city's Orgn School, studying orgn with Josef Foerster,
singing with Josef Zvon nd theory with Frntiek Blek. He lso took n dditionl lnguge
course to improve his German and worked as an "extra" in numerous bands and orchestras as a
violist, including the orchestra of the St. Cecilia Society.
[13]
Dvok grduted from the Orgn
School in 1859. He applied unsuccessfully as an organist at St. Henry's Church but was
undaunted in pursuing a musical career.
[14]

In 1858, he joined Karel Komzk's orchestra, with whom he performed in Prague's restaurants
and at balls.
[15]
The high professional level of the ensemble attracted the attention of Jan
Nepomuk Mar, who engaged the whole orchestra in the Bohemian Provisional
Theater Orchestr. Dvok plyed viola in the orchestra beginning in 1862. Dvok could hrdly
afford concert tickets, but playing in the orchestra gave him a chance to hear music, mainly
operas.
[16]
In July 1863, Dvok played in a program devoted to the German composer Richard
Wagner, who conducted the orchestr. Dvok hd n "unbounded dmirtion" for Wgner since
1857.
[17]
In 1862, Dvok hd begun composing his first string qurtet.
[18]
In 1864, Dvok greed
to share the rent of a flat located in Prague's ikov district with five other people, who also
included violinist Moic Anger nd Krel ech, who lter becme singer.
[19][20]
In 1866, Mar
was replaced as chief conductor by Bedich Smetn.
[21][22]
Dvok ws mking bout $7.50
month. The constant need to supplement his income pushed him to give piano lessons. It was
through these piano lessons that he met his wife. He originally fell in love with his pupil and
collegue from the Provisionl Theter, Josefn ermkov, for whom he pprently composed
the song cycle "Cypress Trees".
[23]
However, she never returned his love and ended up marrying
nother mn. In 1873 Dvok mrried Josefin's younger sister, Ann ermkov (18541931).
They had nine children together, three of whom died in infancy.
Composer and organist[edit]


Dvok plyed orgn t St. Adlbert's Church in Prgue from 1874 to 1877
Dvok clled his String Quintet in A Minor (1861) his Opus 1, and his First String Quartet (1862)
his Opus 2, although the chronological Burghauser Catalogue
[24]
numbers these as B.6 and B.7,
showing five erlier compositions without opus numbers. In the erly 1860s, Dvok lso mde
his first symphonic attempts, some of which he self-critically burned. The manuscript of a
symphony in C minor without opus number, B.9, composed in 1865, was preserved.
[24]
This
symphony hs come to be numbered s Dvok's First (see under "Works"). His first composing
attempts passed without critical reception or public performances. His compositions up through
1870, according to the Burghauser Catalogue
[25]
either had no known premieres, or were
premiered in 1888 or later. In 1870, he composed his first opera, Alfred, over the course of five
months from May to October.
[26]
Its overture was first publicly performed as late as 1905, and the
full opera only in 1938.
[27]

Up through 1871 Dvok gve opus numbers only up to 5 mong his first 26 compositions.
[28]
The
first press mention of Antonn Dvok ppered in the Hudebn listy journal in June 1871, and the
first publicly performed composition was the song Vzpomnn (October 1871, musical evenings
of L. Prochzka).
[29]
The opera The King and the Charcoal Burner was returned to Dvok from
the Provisional Theatre and said to be unperformable. Its overture was premiered in 1872 in a
Philharmonic concert conducted by Bedich Smetn, but the full opera with the original score
only in 1929.
[30]
Clapham
[31]
sys Dvok relized he hd gone to "extremes in ttempting to
follow the example of Wagner." In 1873-74 he reset "the King and Charcoal Burner libretto
entirely afresh, in a totally different manner", without using "anything from the ill-fated earlier
version". The alternate opera, called King and Charcoal Burner II, B.42, was premiered in Prague
in 1874.
[32]



Dvok with his wife Ann in London, 1886
On leving the Ntionl Theter Orchestr fter his mrrige, Dvok secured the job of orgnist
at St. Adalbert's Church in Prague under Josef Frster, the father of the composer Josef
Bohuslav Foerster.
[33]
The job paid "a mere pittance", but it was "a welcome addition for the
young couple."
[34]
Despite these circumstnces, Dvok still mnged to compose substntil
body of music around this time.
In November 1872, Dvok's Pino Quintet in A mjor, Op. 5, ws performed in Prague, by a
"splendid team of players" organized by Prochzka. It was the first piece played in a concert.
[35]
In
March 1873, his Czech patriotic cantata The Heirs of the White Mountain
[36]
was performed by the
Prague Hlalol Choral Society of 300 singers (conducted by his friend and supporter Karel Bendl)
to a warm response from both audience and critics, making it an "unqualified success."
[37]
So in
Prgue, Dvok's compositions were coming to be recognized.
When Dvok turned ge 33 in 1874, however, he remined lmost unknown s composer,
outside the area of Prague. He applied for the Austrian State Prize for composition. Brahms was
on the jury for the prize nd through his influence, Dvok won it tht yer.
[38]
Botstein
[39]
says the
jury was "to award financial support to talented composers in need" in the Austro-Hungarian
Empire. Brhms found "mssive submission" from Dvok, "fifteen works including two
symphonies, several overtures and a song cycle." Brahms was "visibly overcome" by the
"mstery nd tlent" of Dvok.
Clapham
[40]
gives the official report for the 1874 prize, saying Dvok ws reltively
impoverished music teacher who "has submitted 15 compositions, among them symphonies,
which display an undoubted talent ...The applicant ... deserves a grant to ease his straitened
circumstances and free him from anxiety in his creative work." It says he had not yet owned a
piano. Before being married, he had lodged with four other men, one of whom owned a small
"spinet" piano.
[41]

In 1875, the yer his first son ws born, Dvok composed his second string quintet, his 5th
Symphony, Piano Trio No. 1, and Serenade for Strings in E. He again entered but this time did
not win the Austrian State Prize. He did win it in 1876, and then felt free to resign his position as
an organist.
[42]
In 1877 he wrote the "Symphonic Variations" and Ludevt Prochzka conducted its
premiere in Prague.