Introducing "PatchChords", a blog series about the Patchogue-Medford Library’s printed and recorded music collections.
Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904)
Antonín Dvořák was born in a small village in Bohemia (part of the Czech Republic) in 1841, and he would go on to write music strongly influenced by his pride in both his Czech heritage and, indeed, his adopted country of America in which he spent several years as artistic director and professor of composition at the National Conservatory of Music in New York. So fascinated was he by the African-American and Native American music he heard that he wrote what could be regarded as the ultimate musical love letter to the United States, his Ninth Symphony ("From The New World").
But, before any of that could happen, there was the question of his musical education. And therein lies a tale. And as it now turns out, an apocrophyal tale.
His father, a butcher, innkeeper, and skilled zither player, was proud of the musical abilities his son displayed at the village school where he received singing and violin lessons. But when talk began of sending young Antonín to Prague for further study, his father, as the story goes, drew the line and, citing the family’s lack of money, decreed that his budding musician son become a butcher’s apprentice. And young Antonín, as the story goes, became apprenticed for two years of no doubt soul-killing musical deprivation and drudgery. And there, the story would have ended, were it not for an uncle who provided a tiny monetary allowance which sent young Antonín on his way to Prague and further musical study, paving the way for his prolific and storied future musical career.
As late as 1990, biographies of Dvořák continued to relate the story of his father’s mandate. However, subsequent biographical research by Dvořák researcher, Jarmil Burghauser proved Antonín’s certificate of apprenticeship, dated November 2, 1856, to be a forgery, dispelling a long-held myth that obscured the fact that Antonín’s parents both recognized their son’s musical talent from the first and joyously did all that they could to encourage it.
Influenced by the Bohemian folk melodies that filled his ears during his childhood, his music is inspired by Czech, Moravian, and other Slavic traditional music, with a basis in Slavic folk dance forms such as the dumka, odzemek, furiant, mazurka, and polonaise, embodying and advocating, in the early 20th Century, the modern Czech musical style.
More, at the Library, about Dvořák
- Electronically – Credo Reference
- Electronically – Biography Reference Bank
- Electronically – History Reference Center