Looking back in time at the great composers of the world, only one foreign composer stands out for his many contributions to classical music and in helping America to find its own music. Antonin Leopold Dvorak was born on September 8th, 1841, in a small village of Nelahozeves in Bohemia that lies on the bank of the Mauldau River. The village Dvorak was born into was in good company and surroundings however also retained much of its native luster even through the worst times of political oppression (1).
Dvorak grew up around much political discussion within his father’s Inn, however he was never interested in politics, he was more interested in crops just as the other sensible folk in his village. When Dvorak was eight he attended the village for two years, and there he met Josef Spitz whom was the schoolmaster/village/organist that young Dvorak studied the violin from. He soon played well enough to sit beside his father at the Inn and play when the village band went into action (6). Antonin was often called upon to exhibit his talent to the villagers under the proud eye of his father. Unfortunately, facts about his early training that might have been passed down were lost when the old schoolhouse burned down in 1885 (1).
At the end of 1853 Antonin’s father sent him to Zlonice to extend his studies, and that he did studying with Antonin Liehmann, whom he learned the organ, piano and viola, as well as continuing his violin studies. With Liehmann he also began studying harmony leading him into composition, for Liehmann has his own orchestra to play them in return. Dvorak’s family soon moved to Zlonice at the insistence of their Uncle, then Dvorak was sent of to intensely study the German langua...
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...ty-five, he began to compose symphonic poems which were new to him. Between this period and his death in 1904, Dvorak conducted and attended concerts of his own works as he did throughout his life. In 1901, Dvorak was unanimously elected successor to Ant. Bennewitz as director of the Prague Conservatory (2). His 60th birthday also in 1901 was celebrated all throughout Bohemia and Moravia along with performances of a cycle of his own operas.
It soon became clear that the great composer was seriously ill and by April 5th, 1904, doctors discovered that he was suffering from generalized arterial degeneration with some involvement of the kidneys (2), however this great man died suddenly on May 1st, 1904. Because of the many accomplishments of Antonin Dvorak, his works as well as few students of his, will be remembered and loved by the American public forever.
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