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Notes from a small island

Donald Macleod looks at how visits to England changed Dvorak and brought him increasing fame.

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?

With the success of Dvořák s breakthrough came difficulties, due to the high expectations of his friends and supporters. Little wonder that the Czech composer’s sights turned elsewhere, to England, and a chance to follow his own path.

Today Donald Macleod asks whether Dvořák’s visits to England led not only to increased fame but also to a greater sense of his own worth as a composer. We’ll hear from some of the works that delighted his English audiences, including an oratorio about a Czech saint and a setting of the Requiem mass.

Dvořák’s success in England also allowed him to fulfil a dream of buying a bolt hole in the country, a place that inspired his 8th Symphony.

Czech Suite, Op 39 (Finale – Furiant)
Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra
Antoni Wit, conductor

Stabat Mater, Op 58 (Quis es homo, qui non fleret)
Lívia Ághová, soprano
Marga Schiml, contralto
Aldo Baldin, tenor
Luděk Vel, bass
Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
Jiří Bělohlávek – conductor

Svatá Ludmila, Op 71 (What man is this whom lightening will not fell? & I beg thee, on thy dusty feet My lips I would lay)
Eva Urbanov, soprano
Prague Philharmonic Choir
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Jiří Bělohlávek, conductor

Symphony No 8 in G major, Op 88 (1st movt – Allegro con brio)
Budapest Festival Orchestra
Iván Fische, conductor

Requiem, Op 89 (Hostias)
Pilar Lorengar, soprano
Erzsébet Komlóssy, contralto
Róbert Ilosfalvy, tenor
Tomas Krause, bass
London Symphony Orchestra
The Ambrosian Singers
István Kertész, conductor

Produced by Cerian Arianrhod for BBC Cymru Wales.

18 days left to listen

59 minutes

Music Played

  • Antonín Dvořák

    Czech Suite, Op 39 (Finale)

    Orchestra: Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Antoni Wit.
    • NAXOS 8.553005.
    • NAXOS.
    • 6.
  • Antonín Dvořák

    Stabat Mater, Op 58 (Quis es homo)

    Singer: Lívia Ághová. Singer: Marga Schiml. Singer: Aldo Baldin. Singer: Luděk Vele. Orchestra: Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Jiří Bělohlávek.
    • CHANDOS : 8985-.
    • CHANDOS.
    • 2.
  • Antonín Dvořák

    St Ludmilla, Part 1: What man is this?

    Singer: Eva Urbanová. Orchestra: Czech Philharmonic. Choir: Pražský filharmonický sbor. Conductor: Jiří Bělohlávek.
    • ARCO DIVA 0078-2232.
    • ARCO DIVA.
    • 12.
  • Antonín Dvořák

    Symphony No 8 in G major, Op 88 (1st movement)

    Orchestra: Budapest Festival Orchestra. Conductor: Iván Fischer.
    • Philips 464 640-2.
    • Philips.
    • 2.
  • Antonín Dvořák

    Requiem Mass, Op 89 (Hostias)

    Singer: Pilar Lorengar. Singer: Komlossy Erzsebet. Singer: Róbert Ilosfalvy. Singer: Tomas Krause. Choir: Ambrosian Singers. Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: István Kertész.
    • DECCA : 448-897-2.
    • DECCA.
    • 10.

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