They Remember Dvorak

This week on From The Vault we pay tribute to the great Czech composer Antonin Dvorak, with a presentation of Pacifica Radio’s 1970 Award-Winning program, They Remember Dvorak.

Dvorak was more than happy living in Eastern Europe and presenting his grand Symphonies around Europe. But in 1892, he was invited to move to America, an offer which he originally scoffed at. Why would he put his family in harms way from the savage American Indians and the hostile seas?

By the end of his 3 years living in America he befriended Algonquin Indians and African Americans and began cataloging bird and nature sounds. Indian singing, Negro Spirituals and sounds of nature would
become recurring themes in Dvorak’s music.

The idea for this program came in 1967 when then-KPFK Music Director, William Malloch, met someone who actually knew Dvorak. It inspired William to look for more and would end up recording the reminiscences of 8 others who knew Dvorak and artfully wove these stories into a three hour special.

On this program we will only cover the time Dvorak spent in America from 1892-1895, but first a little about Antonin Dvorak.

Born on September 8th, 1841 in The Austrian Empire now known as the Czech Republic, Dvorak would become one of the most prolific composers of all time. By the 1870’s he was already considered a significant composer, ultimately gaining the respect and friendship of both Johannes Brahms and Pyotr Illych Tchaikovsky. As his notoriety ascended to worldwide status he would be invited to Premiere his Symphony no. 7 in London in 1885. Then in 1892, American socialite Jeanette Thurber would invite Dvorak to be the Director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York City.

Our story today will deal with the 3 years Dvorak would spend in America and his music inspired by his exposure to the Native American culture and his experiences in The New World.

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