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Influential friends

Donald Macleod explores Dvorak's relationship with influential figures in the music world and how he created a name for himself outside his 'narrow Czech fatherland'.

Antonín Dvořák was no spring chicken when he found success as a composer. He was in his early thirties before he made his mark in his native Czech Republic, despite composing from a young age. Donald Macleod follows Dvořák as he attempts to win over successive audiences: from Prague to Vienna, England to America, before eventually returning to Prague and to the opera stage. Who did he need to impress in order to achieve the success he craved?

By 1873 Dvořák was making a name for himself in Prague, but the musical snobbery of the day meant that to be thought truly successful a composer had first to make an impression in Vienna and the Germanic heartlands of classical music. Acclaim from Dvořák’s “narrow Czech fatherland” was not enough.

A state grant for struggling composers brought him into contact with many influential individuals, including Johannes Brahms who became an important friend. An introduction to Brahms’ publisher, Fritz Simrock led to “Dvořákmania”, but the Czech composer’s success came against a background of personal tragedy.

Today Donald Macleod examines Dvořák’s relationships with some of the influential individuals who championed his work, including Brahms, the conductor Hans Richter and the virtuoso violinist Joseph Joachim.

Piano Trio in F minor, Op 65 (Allegro grazioso: meno mosso)
The Florestan Trio

Moravian Duets, Op 32 (How small the field of Slavíkov is & Water and Tears)
Genia Kühmeier, soprano
Bernarda Fink, mezzo-soprano
Christoph Berner, piano

Symphonic Variations, Op 78
Prague Philharmonia
Jakub Hrůša, conductor

String Quartet No 10 in E flat major, Op 51 (Romanza)
The Emerson String Quartet

Violin Concerto in A minor, Op 53 (2nd movt – Adagio ma non troppo)
Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin
Marek Janowski, conductor
Arabella Steinbacher, violin

Produced by Cerian Arianrhod for BBC Cymru Wales

15 days left to listen

59 minutes

Music Played

  • Antonín Dvořák

    Piano Trio No 3 in F Minor, Op 65 (2nd movement)

    Ensemble: The Florestan Trio.
    • HYPERION : CDA-66895.
    • HYPERION.
    • 2.
  • Antonín Dvořák

    5 Moravian Duets, Op 32 (extract)

    Performer: Christoph Berner. Singer: Bernarda Fink. Singer: Genia Kühmeier.
    • HARMONIA MUNDI : HMC-902081.
    • HARMONIA MUNDI.
    • 12.
  • Antonín Dvořák

    Symphonic Variations, Op 78

    Orchestra: Prague Philharmonia. Conductor: Jakub Hrůša.
    • PENTATONE PTC 5186554.
    • PENTATONE.
    • 1.
  • Antonín Dvořák

    String Quartet No 10 in E flat major, Op 51 (3rd movement)

    Ensemble: Emerson String Quartet.
    • DG: 4778765.
    • DG.
    • 3.
  • Antonín Dvořák

    Violin Concerto in A minor, Op 53 (2nd movement)

    Performer: Arabella Steinbacher. Orchestra: Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Marek Janowski.
    • PTC 5186353.
    • PENTATONE.
    • 7.

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