Antonin Dvorak

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  • Topic: Antonín Dvořák, Prague, Bedřich Smetana
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  • Published : October 16, 2005
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Antonin Dvorak

Antonin Leopard Dvorak also known as Anton Dvorak Was born in Nelahozeves Sep. 8, 1841 on the banks of the Vltava River near Prague, where he spent most of his life. Dvorak came from a modest background. His father owned an Inn, where he played folk music. Dvorak went to school at the age of eleven. At this age, he dropped out to become an apprentice butcher, and the next year went on to study in German in Zolance. In Zolance most of Dvorak's time was spent on music lessons, learning how to play many instruments such as violin, organ, and piano. He also learned basic composition. With these classes his interest in music only grew. He was taught music by local schoolmasters and with Antonin Liehmann at Prague's Organ School at the end of the 1850s. For many years during the 1860s he earned a modest living by playing the violin in the Bohemian Provisional Theatre Orchestra which was conducted by Bedrich Smetana from 1866. From 1892 to 1895, Dvorak was director of the National Conservatory in New York City. The Conservatory was founded by Jeannette Thurber, who wanted a well-known composer as director. She wrote to Dvorak, asking him to accept the position, and he agreed, providing that she was willing to meet his conditions: that talented Native American and African-American students, who could not afford the tuition, must be admitted for free. She agreed to his conditions, and he sailed to America.

It was during his time as director of the Conservatory that Dvorak formed a friendship with Harry Burleigh, who became an important African-American composer. Dvorak taught Burleigh composition, and in return, Burleigh spent hours on end singing traditional American Spirituals to Dvorak. Burleigh went on to compose settings of these Spirituals which compare favorably with European classical composition. In the winter and spring of 1893, while in New York, he wrote his most popular work, the Symphony No.9 "From the New World". Receiving an...
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