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Antonin Dvorak

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Antonin Dvorak was born in Nelahozeves on September 8, 1841. Dvorak was one of the greatest of the Czech composers. He grew up with an appreciation of local folk songs and demonstrated a talent for music at an early age. His first experience with music was of a violinist and violist. He got the attention of Johannes Brahms with his Moravian Duets and soon won a competition in Vienna that he would have never won if it had not been for the insistence of Brahms. Since his patriotic composition, Hymnus, was so popular in 1873, he decided to dedicate himself to composing and teaching music.

Unlike most of the contemporaries, Dvorak was not a pianist/composer. His compositions for the piano are rare. His piano compositions have a quality that makes them both beautiful and powerful. Someone said that they are much like a jewel: they are revered by those who appreciate the beauty of their shape, the smoothly polished surface, and the glow that comes from within.

As his fame spread throughout Europe, it spread to the United States as well. He was invited in 1892 to the National Conservatory in New York City where he became the artistic director. At the time, he was earning a little less than $500 a month as a professor at the Prague Conservatory. When he took the job at the National Conservatory, he made a salary of $15,000 a year. He served at the Conservatory for three years and wrote some of his best-known music during his time, which includes his Symphony #9 in E minor.

When in New York City at the Conservatory of Music, Dvorak taught composition three mornings a week and conducted choir and orchestra another three mornings. He encouraged his students to develop their own "American style". He also encouraged them to develop the folk songs and "plantation music" of the South.

Dvorak was nationalistic in his earlier works back home; the New World was a nationalistic composition for America. The time he spent working on the New World made him homesick for his native home; Bohemia. His personal secretary suggested the family go to the tiny Czech community in Iowa, known as Spillville. The village was located on a river and the hills and countryside reminded Dvorak of his native Bohemia. In Spillville, everyone spoke Czech and the Catholic Church had an organ that Dvorak would be able to play.

Dvorak writes very contemporary



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