Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904)

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01Butcher Boy?20160125

Donald Macleod on Dvorak's early years, including his First Symphony, The Bells of Zlonice

Donald Macleod explores the early years of Czech composer Antonin Dvorák, including his first symphony the Bells of Zlonice.

Dvorák has often been represented as an innocent, a naïve, a benign country boy, saintly figure, a family man, a train-spotter and pigeon-fancier who loved nothing more than chatting over a beer in a pub with his pals and playing Darda - a card-game now lost. But there's some evidence that the seemingly artless persona he presented to the world was carefully crafted. Much has been made of his humble origins, the eldest of nine children, growing up living the simple life of a deeply religious country community, surrounded by folk music.

Until quite recently, accounts of his life would have us believe that about the age of thirteen Dvorák was apprenticed to a butcher in Zlonice, a town about twenty miles from his home village, but he was able to continue taking music lessons with the local organist, and at fifteen, completing his apprenticeship. But recently his certificate that supposedly testified to this has been shown to be a forgery, the story a mere myth confected to obscure the fact that his parents recognised their son's musical talent from the first and did everything they could to encourage it.

Symphony No. 9, From the New World - Largo

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra / Nikolaus Harnoncourt

Songs My Mother Taught Me

Joan Sutherland (soprano)

New Philharmonic Orchestra / Richard Bonynge

Silhouettes

Stefan Vaselka (piano)

String Quartet No. 8 in E major

I. Allegro

II. Andante con moto

Symphony No. 1, Bells of Zlonice

Scottish National Orchestra / Neeme Järvi.

01Butcher Boy?20160125
02An Artist Too Has A Fatherland20160126

Donald Macleod introduces some of Dvorak's nationally inspired compositions.

Donald Macleod explores the life and work of Antonin Dvorák.

Dvorák's life coincides with an Age of Nationalism across Europe, when cultural distinctions helped to mark out the borders up for grabs in a reformulated Europe. In this programme we'll hear about some of Dvorák's nationally inspired compositions, including his Hussite Overture. It was written in 1883 at the request of František Adolf Šubert, the Director of the National Theatre in Prague, as the overture to a play Šubert intended to write about the times of the Czech hero, the 14th century church reformer and patriot Jan Hus. The main theme adopted by Dvorák is the Hussite hymn, Ye Warriors of God, which was a rallying cry to all Czechs at the time.

Slavonic Dance No. 8 in G minor

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra / Jose Serebrier

King and Charcoal Burner

Prague National Theatre Chorus / Milan Maly

Prague National Theatre Orchestra / Josef Chaloupka

Husitska Overture

Czech Philharmonic Orchestra / Vaclav Neumann

Dumka and Furiant. Op 12

Stefan Vaselka (piano)

Symphony No. 6

III Scherzo - Furiant

IV Finale

Royal Scottish Orchestra / Neeme Jarvi.

02An Artist Too Has A Fatherland20160126
03The Bohemian Brahms20160127

Donald Macleod explores music associated with Dvorak's many visits to Britain.

Donald Macleod explores the music associated with Antonin Dvorák's many visits to Britain.

Dvorák was first invited to Britain by the Royal Philharmonic Society in 1884, to conduct a concert of his own music. Dvorák was almost overwhelmed by his experience of the metropolis - aghast at its sheer size. That first visit was the beginning of what proved to be a lasting, important relationship. Dvorák would return to these shores nine times, and came to be dubbed "the Bohemian Brahms'. He became so famous that his face appeared on one of the Wills cigarette cards.

In Nature's Realm

Czech Philharmonic Orchestra / Libor Pesek

Stabat Mater - stabat mater dolorosa

Edith Mathis (soprano), Anna Reynolds (alto), Wieslaw Ochman (tenor), John Shirley-Quirk (bass)

Bavarian Radio Chorus / Josef Schmidhuber

Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra

The Spectre's Bride

I. chorus

Prague Philharmonic Choir / Pavel Kuhn

Prague Symphony Orchestra / Jiri Belohlavek

Cello Concerto in B minor

III. Finale

Jacqueline du Pré (cello)

Chicago Symphony Orchestra / Daniel Barenboim.

03The Bohemian Brahms20160127
04In the New World20160128

Donald Macleod focuses on Dvorak's years spent in the United States.

04In the New World20160128

Donald Macleod continues his exploration of the life and work of Antonin Dvorák, today focusing on the composer's years in the United States.

It was the 400th anniversary of Columbus's arrival which first drew Dvorák to the United States. Initially commissioned to compose a work celebrating the anniversary. She subsequently invited Dvorák to take up the post of Director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York - an institution she had founded, along with the American Opera Company, as a means towards her visionary ends of bringing into being a national American school of composition. She wanted to free American music from its possessive European parents. She'd chosen Dvorák because she'd seen how he'd established his own reputation as a composer in a distinct, nationalistic style. Up to this time, American composers had gone to Europe to study. Mrs Thurber aimed to make all that cross-Atlantic travel unnecessary.

Rondo in G minor

Paul Tortelier (cello)

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / Yan Pascal Tortelier

Te Deum

i. Te deum laudamus

ii. Tu rex gloriae, Christae

iii. Aeterna fac cum Sanctis tuis Gloria numerate

Marina Mesheriakova (soprano), Sergei Miasnikov (bass)

Russian State Symphonic Capella

Russian State Symphony Orchestra / Valery Polyansky

Goin' Home

Paul Robeson

Sonatina for cello and piano

i. Allegro risoluto

Maria Kliegel (cello), Nina Tichman (piano)

Biblical songs Nos 3 & 4

The Lord is My Shepherd

O sing unto the Lord

Brian Raynor Cook (baritone)

Scottish National Orchestra / Neeme Jarvi

String Quartet No.12 in F major

i. Allegro ma non troppo

Vlach Quartet.

04In the New World20160128

05Towards Dramatic Composition20160129

Donald Macleod focuses on the final years in the life of the composer Antonin Dvorák.

Dvorák's last years were productive ones. After turning down an offer from Brahms to move to Vienna to teach at the Conservatoire, he composed a series of tone poems associated with myths and legends, and all taking their inspiration from ballads by the Czech poet Karel Jaromír Erben. These would be his final orchestral works.

Dvorák had served his musical apprenticeship in the orchestra of what was then Prague's opera house and at the end of his life he retained his passion, obsession even, about composing opera. Just two months before his death in May 1904, Dvorák told a journalist from an Austrian newspaper that, "in the last five years I have written nothing but operas. I wanted to devote all my powers, as long as God gives me the health, to the creation of opera.... I consider opera the most suitable form for the nation. This music is listened to by the broad masses, whereas when I compose a symphony, I might have to wait years for it to be performed."

Eight Humoresques

Stefan Vaselka (piano)

The Noon Witch

Czech Philharmonic Orchestra / Sir Charles Mackerras

O Silver Moon (Rusalka)

Renée Fleming (soprano)

LSO / Sir Georg Solti

Carnival Overture

Concertgebouw Orchestra / Riccardo Chailly.

Donald Macleod focuses on Dvorak's productive final years.

01Casting The Dye: Dvorak The Opera Composer20070813

Za stehlou gazelou (Armida)

Armida....Milada Subertova (soprano)

Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra

Vaclav Jiraceck (conductor)

The Dramatic Overture

Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra

Libor Pesek (conductor)

The King and the Charcoal Burner (excerpts)

Liduska....Jitka Svobodova (soprano)

Anna....Drahomira Drokkova (alto)

King....Rene Tucek (baritone)

Jenik....Miroslav Kopp (tenor)

Matej....Dalibor Jedlicka (bass)

Prague National Theatre Chorus and Orchestra

Josef Chaloupka (conductor)

The Water Goblin, Op 107

Berlin Philharmonic

Simon Rattle (conductor).

02A Lighter, More Accessible Approach To Opera20070814

Presented by Donald Macleod.

The Stubborn Lovers (excerpts)

Jaroslav Brezina (tenor)

Roman Janál (baritone)

Jana Sykorova (contralto)

Gustáv Belácek (bass)

Zdena Kloubová (soprano)

Prague Philharmonic Choir

Prague Philharmonia

Jiri Belohlávek (conductor)

The Golden Spinning Wheel, Op 109

Berlin Philharmonic

Simon Rattle (conductor)

Vanda (excerpts)

Olga Romanko (soprano)

Peter Straka (tenor)

Pavel Daniluk (bass)

WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne

Gerd Albrecht (conductor).

03Dvorak's Operatic Maturity20070815

Presented by Donald Macleod.

The Cunning Peasant (excerpts)

Jitka Sobehartová (soprano)

Josef Kundlák (tenor)

Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra

Frantisek Vajnar (conductor)

The Wood Dove, Op 110

Berlin Philharmonic

Simon Rattle (conductor)

Dimitrij (excerpts)

Leo Marian Vodicka (tenor)

Drahomira Drobková (alto)

Peter Mikulás (bass)

Ivan Kusnjer (baritone)

Ludek Vele (bass)

Czech Philharmonic Chorus

Prague Radio Chorus

Czech Philharmonic Orchestra

Gerd Albrecht (conductor).

04A Comic Operatic Genius Emerges20070816

Presented by Donald Macleod.

The Jacobin (excerpts)

Beno Blachut (tenor)

Daniela Sounová (soprano)

Vil退m Pribyl (tenor)

Václav Zitek (baritone)

Marcela Machotková (soprano)

Kantil退na Children's Chorus

Kuhn Mixed Chorus

Brno Philharmonic Orchestra

Jiri Pinkas (conductor)

The Noonday Witch, Op 108

Berlin Philharmonic

Simon Rattle (conductor)

Kate and the Devil (excerpts)

Richard Novák (bass)

Anna Barova, Daniela Suryová (mezzo-sopranos)

Milos Jezil (tenor)

Brigita Sulcová (soprano)

Brno Janácek Opera Chorus and Orchestra

05 LASTDvorak's Golden Operatic Sunset20070817

Presented by Donald Macleod.

Armida (excerpts)

Ivo Zidek (tenor)

Zden退k Otava (baritone)

Milada Subrtová (soprano)

Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra

Václav Jirácek (conductor)

Heroic Song, Op 111

Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra

Antoni Wit (conductor)

Rusalka (excerpts)

Milada Subrtivá (soprano)

Eduard Haken (bass)

Marie Ovcaciková (alto)

Prague National Theatre Orchestra

Zdenek Chalabla (conductor).

01Arrivals20081103

Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904)

Donald Macleod examines the entire collection of works Dvorak composed during his stay in America from 1892 to 1895.

1/5.

Arrivals

An exploration of the shy and home-loving Dvorak's arrival in eclectic and chaotic New York, where he went to take up his new position as director of the National Conservatory.

The music includes Dvorak's American 'calling card' - his Scherzo capriccioso, his carnival-like Te Deum and a particular oddity - his cantata The American Flag, written to a fiercely patriotic text and rarely heard since its composition.

Scherzo capriccioso, Op 66

Los Angeles Philharmonic

Andre Previn (conductor)

TELARC CD80206 - Tr 5

Te Deum, Op 103

Marina Meshcheriakova (soprano)

Sergei Miasnikov (bass)

Russian State Symphonic Cappella

Russian State Symphony Orchestra

Valery Poliansky (conductor)

CHANDOS CHAN9505 - Trs 7-10

The American Flag

Joseph Evans (tenor)

Barry McDaniel (baritone)

St Hedwig's Cathedral Choir

RIAS Chamber Choir

Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra

Michael Tilson Thomas (conductor)

SONY CLASSICAL 60297 - Trs 6-13

03A Summer In Spillville|20081105

Donald Macleod focuses on Dvorak's trip in the summer of 1893 with his family to the village of Spillville, Iowa where, in an idyllic setting, he became fascinated with Native American music.

The programme includes pieces exploring the influence of Native American music in the composer's String Quintet in E flat, written for his children - and a mischievous tale of romance between a local Native American chief...and the composer's teenage daughter.

Rabbit Dance (Northern Plains Dance)

NEW WORLD 802462 - Tr 4

String Quintet No 3 in E Flat, Op 97

Simon Rowland-Jones (violin)

The Chilingirian Quartet

CHANDOS CHAN9046 - Trs 6-9

Sonatina for violin and piano, Op 100

Josef Suk (violin)

Josef Hala (piano)

SUPRAPHON CLASSICS 1114662 - Trs 8-11

04In Class And At Home20081106

Donald Macleod discusses Dvorak's time as a teacher - as director of the National Conservatory in New York.

The music includes the composer's arrangements of Stephen Foster's song Old Folks at Home, written for a charity fundraiser and sung by the African-American congregation of his local church.

String Quartet No 12 in F, Op 96 (American)

Hagen Quartet

Deutsche Grammophon DG4196012 - Trs 1-4

Piano Suite in A, Op 98a

Stefan Veselka (piano)

Naxos 8447478 - Trs 5-9

Stephen Foster, arr Dvorak: Old Folks at Home

Arthur Woodley (bass-baritone)

The Collegiate Chorale

Harmonie Ensemble New York

Steven Richman (conductor)

MUSIC AND ARTS CD926 - Tr 11

05 LASTFarewells20081107

Donald Macleod concludes his series exploring Dvorak's last months in America, a period marred by the deaths of this father and his great friend, the conductor Hans von Bulow.

The music includes the composer's Biblical Songs - written in the immediate aftermath of his bereavements - as well as the composition that was to prove his final farewell to his adopted home: the virtuosic Cello Concerto in B minor.

Dvorak, arr.

Art Tatum: Humoresque in G flat

Art Tatum (piano)

ASV CDAJA5164 - Tr 15

Biblical Songs (excerpts)

Brian Rayner Cook (baritone)

Scottish National Orchestra

Neeme Jarvi (conductor)

CHANDOS CHAN9002 - Trs 4-6

Cello Concerto in B minor, Op 104

Pierre Fournier (cello)

Berlin Philharmonic

George Szell (conductor)

Deutsche Grammophon 4394842 - Trs 1-3

0120100524

Donald Macleod begins a week of programmes, part of Radio 3's focus on opera, exploring Dvořák's long and frustrating career as a theatre composer, and discovers a wealth of great music rarely heard outside the composer's Bohemian homeland.

0220100525

Dvořák's earliest attempts at opera were not at all successful, but he couldn't shake the opera bug and determined to struggle on, even if that meant re-composing an entire music drama from scratch.

Presented by Donald Macleod.

2/5.

Donald Macleod explores Dvorak's reaction to his unsuccessful early attempts at opera.

0320100526

As he reached his maturity, Dvořák's determination to become a great opera composer finally began to pay off.

His public, though, were clamouring for more and more concert music.

0420100527

Donald Macleod continues his story of Dvořák's lifelong obsession with opera, as the world famous composer struggles to find international recognition for his beloved theatre music.

(4/5).

Donald Macleod on Dvorak's struggle for international recognition of his theatre music.

05 LAST20100528

Dvořák had wrestled with opera all his working life, but in his final years he devoted himself to it as never before, producing his very best work for the stage.

Presented by Donald Macleod.

5/5.

Donald Macleod explains how late in life, Dvorak devoted himself to opera as never before.

01International Recognition20130902

Donald Macleod introduces works which launched Dvorak's international career.

Thanks to Brahms's intervention, a publisher's leap of faith and a glowing review from an enthusiastic critic, Dvorák found himself launched from minor local celebrity to international star almost overnight. By then in his mid-30s, Dvorák already had a body of substantial works under his belt and had established his career in his Bohemian homeland. Donald Macleod introduces the works which forged Dvorák's reputation abroad, including the deeply felt choral work prompted by the death of his three children.

02England20130903

Donald Macleod explores some of the works Dvorak premiered during his trips to England.

Following a hugely popular performance of his Stabat Mater at the Royal Albert Hall in March 1883, Dvorák was invited by the Philharmonic Society of London to write a new work for them and to come and conduct it. Donald Macleod describes Dvorák's extraordinary reception in England and introduces some of the works he premiered during the many visits he made to the country, including the symphony written for the Philharmonic Society, a cantata based on a spooky gothic tale and one of the greatest of all his liturgical works.

03Nature, Life And Love20130904

Donald Macleod introduces works inspired by Dvorak's love for his homeland.

Dvorák regarded himself first and foremost as a Bohemian composer, though it proved to be a stumbling block when trying to conquer the international market with his operas. Thanks to the anti-Czech feeling in Vienna at the time, it was impossible for him to get a fair hearing there. In spite of his intention to find a subject with a more international flavour, Dvorák's eighth opera proved to be the most Bohemian opera he ever composed. Donald Macleod introduces an excerpt from it plus one of three concert overtures inspired by the countryside around Dvorák's summer retreat, and the evocative piano trio destined to become one of the most enduring of all his chamber works.

04America20130905

Donald Macleod introduces works written during Dvorak's time in America.

In 1892 Dvorák embarked on a trip to the USA where he?d been appointed Director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York. He was asked to undertake the formidable task of helping found a national identity for American music and became fascinated by the indigenous melodies of its diverse peoples. Donald Macleod introduces a string quartet written during his summer holiday in the little Bohemian settlement at Spillville in the American mid-west, plus the best known of all his symphonies, named after his temporary home.

05 LASTFinal Years20130906

Donald Macleod introduces colourful works from the end of Dvorak's life.

Dvorák's cello concerto, the final major work from his sojourn in America, received its premiere in England in 1896 conducted by the composer. For the remaining years of his life Dvorák travelled little and, other than writing a few chamber works, produced nothing but operas and symphonic poems inspired by the myths and legends of Bohemia and beyond. Donald Macleod introduces Dvorák's last American work, a haunting tone poem based on a grisly Czech folk tale and the opera with which Dvorák finally achieved his one desire - an international operatic success.

01Czech Seeds In British Soil20140901

Donald Macleod explores the origins of Dvorak's relationship with the British Isles.

Between 1884 and 1896, Dvorák visited Britain nine times - with enormous benefit both to himself and to musical life on these shores. The platforms offered by London's conductors and concert venues helped to launch him as a composer of international stature. Before his first visit to London, he was known only in the German-speaking world and his native Bohemia. By his fifth visit, his fame was on a par with that of his friend and untiring advocate Brahms.

Donald Macleod explores the origins of Dvorák's relationship with the British Isles, from his earliest musical calling-card, the Slavonic Dances opus 46, first presented to British audiences at Crystal Palace in February 1879, to the triumphant reception accorded him five years later when he conducted his Stabat Mater at the Royal Albert Hall. A key element along the way, before he had even set foot here, was his enthusiastic endorsement by musical luminaries such as the violinist Joachim, who presented Dvorák's String Sextet in London in 1880, and the conductor Hans Richter, who championed a string of Dvorák's works, beginning with the 3rd Slavonic Rhapsody.

02A Bohemian In Blighty20140902

Donald Macleod on the background to the commissioning of Dvorak's Seventh Symphony.

Between 1884 and 1896, Dvorák visited Britain nine times - with enormous benefit both to himself and to musical life on these shores. The platforms offered by London's conductors and concert venues helped to launch him as a composer of international stature. Before his first visit to London, he was known only in the German-speaking world and his native Bohemia. By his fifth visit, his fame was on a par with that of his friend and untiring advocate Brahms.

Donald Macleod looks at the background to the commissioning of Dvorák's 7th Symphony by the Royal Philharmonic Society. That same organization had commissioned Beethoven's 9th Symphony some 67 years earlier, and is still going strong today. The RPS had been instrumental in organising Dvorák's first visit to Britain. Other invitations quickly followed, including one to conduct his 6th Symphony and Stabat Mater at the Worcester Three Choirs Festival, where an awestruck young Edward Elgar sat among the ranks of the violins.

03You See, I Became Quite The Englishman20140903

Donald Macleod focuses on Dvorak's visits to Birmingham and Leeds.

Between 1884 and 1896, Dvorák visited Britain nine times - with enormous benefit both to himself and to musical life on these shores. The platforms offered by London's conductors and concert venues helped to launch him as a composer of international stature. Before his first visit to London, he was known only in the German-speaking world and his native Bohemia. By his fifth visit, his fame was on a par with that of his friend and untiring advocate Brahms.

Donald Macleod considers Dvorák's fourth and fifth British sojourns, in which he ventured as far afield as Birmingham and Leeds. Birmingham had commissioned from him a secular cantata for their 1885 Festival. This turned out to be The Spectre's Bride, a Gothic tale of ghoulish horror about an orphaned girl whose dead lover rises from the grave to claim her though, eventually, all's well that ends well: she clings to her faith "and the evil spirit is repulsed." The Leeds Festival commission was for a new choral work, preferably on a biblical subject; but Dvorák opted instead for St Ludmila, a story from ancient Bohemian history about the conversion of the Czech people from paganism to Christianity. The Spectre's Bride turned out to be the biggest triumph of Dvorák's career to date; the success of St Ludmila, whose creation had caused the composer a huge amount of stress and worry, was more equivocal. Neither work is frequently performed today.

04Doctor Dvorak20140904

Donald Macleod focuses on the British origins of Dvorak's Eighth Symphony and the Requiem.

Between 1884 and 1896, Dvorák visited Britain nine times - with enormous benefit both to himself and to musical life on these shores. The platforms offered by London's conductors and concert venues helped to launch him as a composer of international stature. Before his first visit to London, he was known only in the German-speaking world and his native Bohemia. By his fifth visit, his fame was on a par with that of his friend and untiring advocate Brahms.

Donald Macleod explores the origins of Dvorák's 8th Symphony, commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society, and his Requiem, written for the Birmingham Festival of 1891. The RPS had been trying to persuade Dvorák to compose something new for them for several years but he remained busy with other projects until the end of 1889. Eventually, he wrote to say that he had started sketching "something new for your concerts". His new symphony was a huge success at its British première the following April. By now, Dvorák was practically a member of the British musical establishment so it was a logical step for Cambridge University to award him an honorary doctorate. He attended the ceremony in June 1891 - an all-Latin affair that evidently made him extremely uncomfortable. In the wake of the rapturous reception given to The Spectre's Bride at the Birmingham Festival of 1885, Dvorák was commissioned to write a new oratorio. At first it was suggested to him that he should set The Dream of Gerontius, a poem by Cardinal Newman, but Dvorák found the text alien and opted instead for a setting of the Requiem mass, which received its world première in Birmingham in October 1891, under the baton of the composer.

Requiem, Op 89; Dies Irae

Czech Philharmonic Orchestra

Karel An?erl, conductor

Symphonic Variations, Op 78

Charles Mackerras, conductor

Symphony No 8 in G, Op 88; 3rd and 4th mvts

London Symphony Orchestra

István Kertész, conductor

Requiem, Op 89; 'Domine, Jesu Christe'

Maria Stader (soprano)

Sieglinde Wagner (alto)

Ernst Haefliger (tenor)

Kim Borg (bass)

Karel Ancerl, conductor

Producer: Chris Barstow.

05 LASTDvorak's Last Visit20140905

Between 1884 and 1896, Dvorák visited Britain nine times - with enormous benefit both to himself and to musical life on these shores. The platforms offered by London's conductors and concert venues helped to launch him as a composer of international stature. Before his first visit to London, he was known only in the German-speaking world and his native Bohemia. By his fifth visit, his fame was on a par with that of his friend and untiring advocate Brahms.

Donald Macleod explores the circumstances of the composer's final trip to Britain which saw the world première of one of his greatest works, the Cello Concerto instigated once again by the redoubtable Royal Philharmonic Society. Since the 1891 première of Dvorák's Requiem in Birmingham, the RPS had made strenuous efforts to arrange a return visit but, from 1892 to 1895, Dvorák had his work cut out as Director of the National Conservatory of Music of America in New York, trying to establish an authentically American school of composition. He complained in letters home that his teaching duties interfered with his composing but, in spite of that, he managed to complete a number of major works, including the Biblical Songs and the Cello Concerto, both of which were on the programme of the RPS concert that eventually took place in Queen's Hall, London, with Dvorák conducting, in March 1896 ? as it turned out, Dvorák's final farewell to Blighty.