Antonín Dvořák
(8 September 1841 – 1 May 1904)

Antonín Dvořák was a Czech composer, and many of the rythms of his native Bohemia, and the folk music of Moravia can be heard in his music.  He showed a gift for music from early childhood on.  His first education at a formal school of music took place in Prague, where, at the age of sixteen, he entered the Institute for Church Music.  When he graduated two years later, he began to work with the Provisional Theatre Orchestra, where he played the viola parts of major operas while studying independently the works of the great masters. 

His financial struggles affected his composing, since he was unable to afford to commission a libretto, so his first opera was based on an existing libretto. Once he had some experience, he was taken more seriously, and his first major success, performed in March 1873, was the Hymn “The Heirs of the White Mountain”, set to a text by Vitezslav Halek.  This success fueled his ambition and enthusiasm, and he began to produce original compositions at a rapid pace.  Financial woes were to plague him much of his life, and exerted an enormous influence over the musical decisions he made.

The Stabat Mater was Dvořák's first religious composition, and it premiered in Prague in 1880, and was performed to great acclaim in London and the United States.  In 1892, Dvořák accepted a position as the director of the National Conservatory of Music of America in New York.  While there, he composed his two most successful major works, From the New World, a symphony, and his highly regarded Cello Concerto.  He returned to Prague, and once again began teaching at the Prague Conservatory.  A composer of operas, concertos, symphonies, religious works, string quartets, piano music—his versatility was astonishing,