Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904) [Composer Of The Week]

Episodes

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01A determined scribbler20191104

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?

Today we’re in the Czech Republic, where the not so young Dvořák eventually overcame professional and personal disappointment to wow audiences and critics alike. Highly self-critical of his own work, Dvořák claimed that as a young man he was never short of paper to light a fire. But despite a slow start he never gave up his dream of being a composer.

Thanks to some supportive individuals Dvořák was eventually catapulted to fame, despite an early attempt at opera which was declared “worse than Wagner … unsingable”.

We’ll hear a concert overture, a movement from the first of Dvořák’s symphonies to be performed publicly, and a series of love songs which were originally composed with his wife’s sister in mind.

Slavonic Dances, Op 46 (Dumka)
Chamber Orchestra of Europe
Nikolaus Harnoncourt, conductor

In Nature’s Realm, Op 91
Ulster Orchestra
Vernon Handley, conductor

Symphony No 3 in E flat major, Op 10 (3rd movt Allegro Vivace)
Czech Philharmonic
Jiří Bělohlávek, conductor

Písně Milostné, Op 83
Bernanda Fink, mezzo-soprano
Roger Vignoles, piano

Serenade, Op 44 (Minuetto)
Oslo Philharmonic Wind Soloists

Produced by Cerian Arianrhod for BBC Cymru Wales

Donald Macleod follows Dvorak as he struggles to make his mark as a composer.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

01Butcher Boy?20160125

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

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

01Butcher Boy?20160125

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

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

01From Bohemia to the World20170410

Donald Macleod explores Antonin Dvorak's stratospheric rise to fame in the 1870s.

Long before the famous journey to the New World, the celebrated visits to this country, before even the great shaggy beard...there was once a young composer, obsessed with Wagner, scratching out a meagre living in obscurity in Prague - waiting patiently to snatch his moment as the most outstanding and distinctive musical voice his nation had ever heard. This week, Donald Macleod explores the critical period in the late 1870s when Antonin Dvorak first made his name, drawing musically from no fewer than four of Dvorak's early symphonies, his Piano and Violin Concertos, his much-loved Slavonic Dances, his String Quintet in G, and host of stage and chamber works.

We begin with a critical moment in Dvorak's early life: just as all seemed lost, and his early opera "King and Charcoal Burner" seemed set for the dustbin of history, the composer received a new state award for impoverished composers. It was to utterly transform his life.

A Garland (Songs from The Dvur Kralove Manuscript)
Bernarda Fink, soprano
Roger Vignoles, piano

The King and the Charcoal-Burner: Act III, Scene I
WDR Symphony Orchestra and Chorus
Gerd Albrecht, conductor

Rosebud (Songs from The Dvur Kralove Manuscript)
Bernarda Fink, soprano
Roger Vignoles, piano

Symphony No 3 in E flat, Op 10
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Myung Whun-Chung, conductor

Symphony No 4 in D minor, Op 13 (3rd mvt)
London Symphony Orchestra
István Kertesz, conductor.

Donald Macleod focuses on Dvorak's very rapid rise to fame in the 1870s.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

01From Bohemia to the World2017041020180625 (R3)

Donald Macleod explores Antonin Dvorak's stratospheric rise to fame in the 1870s.

Long before the famous journey to the New World, the celebrated visits to this country, before even the great shaggy beard...there was once a young composer, obsessed with Wagner, scratching out a meagre living in obscurity in Prague - waiting patiently to snatch his moment as the most outstanding and distinctive musical voice his nation had ever heard. This week, Donald Macleod explores the critical period in the late 1870s when Antonin Dvorak first made his name, drawing musically from no fewer than four of Dvorak's early symphonies, his Piano and Violin Concertos, his much-loved Slavonic Dances, his String Quintet in G, and host of stage and chamber works.

We begin with a critical moment in Dvorak's early life: just as all seemed lost, and his early opera "King and Charcoal Burner" seemed set for the dustbin of history, the composer received a new state award for impoverished composers. It was to utterly transform his life.

A Garland (Songs from The Dvur Kralove Manuscript)
Bernarda Fink, soprano
Roger Vignoles, piano

The King and the Charcoal-Burner: Act III, Scene I
WDR Symphony Orchestra and Chorus
Gerd Albrecht, conductor

Rosebud (Songs from The Dvur Kralove Manuscript)
Bernarda Fink, soprano
Roger Vignoles, piano

Symphony No 3 in E flat, Op 10
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Myung Whun-Chung, conductor

Symphony No 4 in D minor, Op 13 (3rd mvt)
London Symphony Orchestra
István Kertesz, conductor.

Donald Macleod focuses on Dvorak's very rapid rise to fame in the 1870s.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

02An Artist Too Has A Fatherland20160126

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

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

02An Artist Too Has A Fatherland20160126

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

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

02Herr Brahms20170411

Donald Macleod explores Dvorak's life-changing relationship with Johannes Brahms, with a complete performance of the String Quintet in G.

Long before the famous journey to the New World, the celebrated visits to this country, before even the great shaggy beard...there was once a young composer, obsessed with Wagner, scratching out a meagre living in obscurity in Prague - waiting patiently to snatch his moment as the most outstanding and distinctive musical voice his nation had ever heard. This week, Donald Macleod explores the critical period in the late 1870s when Antonin Dvorak first made his name, drawing musically from no fewer than four of Dvorak's early symphonies, his Piano and Violin Concertos, his much-loved Slavonic Dances, his String Quintet in G, and host of stage and chamber works.

Though his recent award for "impoverished artists" had bolstered him financially, Dvorak's name was still little known in the mid-1870s. That is, until he came into contact with one of the most powerful and respected figures in European music: Johannes Brahms. Donald Macleod explores their relationship.

Piano Trio No.1 in B flat major, Op 21 (3rd mvt)
Smetana Trio

Symphony No 5 in F major, Op 76 (2nd mvt)
Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra
Mariss Jansons, conductor

Vanda (Act 3 excerpt)
Prague Radio Chorus and Orchestra
František Dyk, conductor

String Quintet No 2 in G major, Op 77
Škampa Quartet
Laurène Durantel, double bass.

Donald Macleod explores Dvorak's life-changing relationship with Brahms.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

02Herr Brahms2017041120180626 (R3)

Donald Macleod explores Dvorak's life-changing relationship with Johannes Brahms, with a complete performance of the String Quintet in G.

Long before the famous journey to the New World, the celebrated visits to this country, before even the great shaggy beard...there was once a young composer, obsessed with Wagner, scratching out a meagre living in obscurity in Prague - waiting patiently to snatch his moment as the most outstanding and distinctive musical voice his nation had ever heard. This week, Donald Macleod explores the critical period in the late 1870s when Antonin Dvorak first made his name, drawing musically from no fewer than four of Dvorak's early symphonies, his Piano and Violin Concertos, his much-loved Slavonic Dances, his String Quintet in G, and host of stage and chamber works.

Though his recent award for "impoverished artists" had bolstered him financially, Dvorak's name was still little known in the mid-1870s. That is, until he came into contact with one of the most powerful and respected figures in European music: Johannes Brahms. Donald Macleod explores their relationship.

Piano Trio No.1 in B flat major, Op 21 (3rd mvt)
Smetana Trio

Symphony No 5 in F major, Op 76 (2nd mvt)
Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra
Mariss Jansons, conductor

Vanda (Act 3 excerpt)
Prague Radio Chorus and Orchestra
František Dyk, conductor

String Quintet No 2 in G major, Op 77
Škampa Quartet
Laurène Durantel, double bass.

Donald Macleod explores Dvorak's life-changing relationship with Brahms.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

02Influential friends20191105

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?

By 1873 Dvořák was making a name for himself in Prague, but the musical snobbery of the day meant that to be thought truly successful a composer had first to make an impression in Vienna and the Germanic heartlands of classical music. Acclaim from Dvořák’s “narrow Czech fatherland” was not enough.

A state grant for struggling composers brought him into contact with many influential individuals, including Johannes Brahms who became an important friend. An introduction to Brahms’ publisher, Fritz Simrock led to “Dvořákmania”, but the Czech composer’s success came against a background of personal tragedy.

Today Donald Macleod examines Dvořák’s relationships with some of the influential individuals who championed his work, including Brahms, the conductor Hans Richter and the virtuoso violinist Joseph Joachim.

Piano Trio in F minor, Op 65 (Allegro grazioso: meno mosso)
The Florestan Trio

Moravian Duets, Op 32 (How small the field of Slavíkov is & Water and Tears)
Genia Kühmeier, soprano
Bernarda Fink, mezzo-soprano
Christoph Berner, piano

Symphonic Variations, Op 78
Prague Philharmonia
Jakub Hrůša, conductor

String Quartet No 10 in E flat major, Op 51 (Romanza)
The Emerson String Quartet

Violin Concerto in A minor, Op 53 (2nd movt – Adagio ma non troppo)
Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin
Marek Janowski, conductor
Arabella Steinbacher, violin

Produced by Cerian Arianrhod for BBC Cymru Wales

Donald Macleod explores Dvorak's relationship with influential figures in the music world.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

03Bohemian Variations20170412

Donald Macleod explores two completely contrasting, yet pivotal, works - Dvorak's Stabat Mater and Moravian Duets. Plus, a rare gem: his Symphonic Variations.

Long before the famous journey to the New World, the celebrated visits to this country, before even the great shaggy beard...there was once a young composer, obsessed with Wagner, scratching out a meagre living in obscurity in Prague - waiting patiently to snatch his moment as the most outstanding and distinctive musical voice his nation had ever heard. This week, Donald Macleod explores the critical period in the late 1870s when Antonin Dvorak first made his name, drawing musically from no fewer than four of Dvorak's early symphonies, his Piano and Violin Concertos, his much-loved Slavonic Dances, his String Quintet in G, and host of stage and chamber works.

Amidst the growing professional fame of the late 1870s, there was tragedy in Dvorak's family life as he lost the first three of his children to be born. A proud family man and deeply religious soul, Dvorak poured his grief into his much-loved Stabat Mater - a work that would later make his name in Great Britain. Meanwhile, a set of delightful Moravian Duets set tongues wagging in Germany - and won him a Berlin publisher. Could the man from the so-called "backwater" of Bohemia be set for his biggest break?

Quis est homo qui non fleret (Stabat Mater)
Ilse Eerens, soprano
Michaela Selinger, alto
Maximilian Schmitt, tenor
Florian Boesch, bass
Collegium Vocale Gent
Royal Flemish Philharmonic Orchestra
Philippe Herreweghe, conductor

Five Moravian Duets, Op 29
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, soprano
Irmgard Seefried, contralto
Gerald Moore, piano

Symphonic Variations
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Marin Alsop, conductor

Piano Concerto in G minor, Op 33 (2nd mvt)
Stephen Hough, piano
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Andris Nelsons, conductor.

Two completely contrasting, yet pivotal, works: Dvorak's Stabat Mater and Moravian Duets.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

03Bohemian Variations2017041220180627 (R3)

Donald Macleod explores two completely contrasting, yet pivotal, works - Dvorak's Stabat Mater and Moravian Duets. Plus, a rare gem: his Symphonic Variations.

Long before the famous journey to the New World, the celebrated visits to this country, before even the great shaggy beard...there was once a young composer, obsessed with Wagner, scratching out a meagre living in obscurity in Prague - waiting patiently to snatch his moment as the most outstanding and distinctive musical voice his nation had ever heard. This week, Donald Macleod explores the critical period in the late 1870s when Antonin Dvorak first made his name, drawing musically from no fewer than four of Dvorak's early symphonies, his Piano and Violin Concertos, his much-loved Slavonic Dances, his String Quintet in G, and host of stage and chamber works.

Amidst the growing professional fame of the late 1870s, there was tragedy in Dvorak's family life as he lost the first three of his children to be born. A proud family man and deeply religious soul, Dvorak poured his grief into his much-loved Stabat Mater - a work that would later make his name in Great Britain. Meanwhile, a set of delightful Moravian Duets set tongues wagging in Germany - and won him a Berlin publisher. Could the man from the so-called "backwater" of Bohemia be set for his biggest break?

Quis est homo qui non fleret (Stabat Mater)
Ilse Eerens, soprano
Michaela Selinger, alto
Maximilian Schmitt, tenor
Florian Boesch, bass
Collegium Vocale Gent
Royal Flemish Philharmonic Orchestra
Philippe Herreweghe, conductor

Five Moravian Duets, Op 29
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, soprano
Irmgard Seefried, contralto
Gerald Moore, piano

Symphonic Variations
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Marin Alsop, conductor

Piano Concerto in G minor, Op 33 (2nd mvt)
Stephen Hough, piano
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Andris Nelsons, conductor.

Two completely contrasting, yet pivotal, works: Dvorak's Stabat Mater and Moravian Duets.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

03Notes from a small island20191106

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.

Donald Macleod asks how success in England changed Dvorak.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

03The Bohemian Brahms20160127

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

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

03The Bohemian Brahms20160127

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

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

04Dvorakmania20170413

Donald Macleod explores how the composer's new Slavonic Dances set off "Dvorakmania" in Germany. Plus: a complete performance of his radiant Wind Serenade.

Long before the famous journey to the New World, the celebrated visits to this country, before even the great shaggy beard...there was once a young composer, obsessed with Wagner, scratching out a meagre living in obscurity in Prague - waiting patiently to snatch his moment as the most outstanding and distinctive musical voice his nation had ever heard. This week, Donald Macleod explores the critical period in the late 1870s when Antonin Dvorak first made his name, drawing musically from no fewer than four of Dvorak's early symphonies, his Piano and Violin Concertos, his much-loved Slavonic Dances, his String Quintet in G, and host of stage and chamber works.

On the 15th November 1878, Dvorak's life changed for ever, as a review by the critic Louis Ehlert appeared in Berlin praising the composer as one of the most brilliantly gifted talents in contemporary music. As music lovers scrambled to buy Dvorak's new Slavonic Dances - the big hit of that winter - the Dvorak family were thrilled to be nursing a new baby, their beloved daughter Otilie. Donald Macleod presents complete performances of Dvorak's much-loved Wind Serenade, inspired by Mozart, and his charming Bagatelles for strings and harmonium.

Furiant in C major (Slavonic Dances, Op 46 No 1)
Peter Noke and Helen Krizos, piano duet

Skocna in A major (Slavonic Dances, Op 46 No 5)
Peter Noke and Helen Krizos, piano duet

Serenade in D minor, Op 44
Oslo Philharmonic Wind Ensemble

Bagatelles, Op 47
Vogler Quartet
Oliver Triendl, harmonium.

Donald Macleod explores how Dvorak's Slavonic Dances set off 'Dvorakmania' in Germany.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

04Dvorakmania2017041320180628 (R3)

Donald Macleod explores how the composer's new Slavonic Dances set off "Dvorakmania" in Germany. Plus: a complete performance of his radiant Wind Serenade.

Long before the famous journey to the New World, the celebrated visits to this country, before even the great shaggy beard...there was once a young composer, obsessed with Wagner, scratching out a meagre living in obscurity in Prague - waiting patiently to snatch his moment as the most outstanding and distinctive musical voice his nation had ever heard. This week, Donald Macleod explores the critical period in the late 1870s when Antonin Dvorak first made his name, drawing musically from no fewer than four of Dvorak's early symphonies, his Piano and Violin Concertos, his much-loved Slavonic Dances, his String Quintet in G, and host of stage and chamber works.

On the 15th November 1878, Dvorak's life changed for ever, as a review by the critic Louis Ehlert appeared in Berlin praising the composer as one of the most brilliantly gifted talents in contemporary music. As music lovers scrambled to buy Dvorak's new Slavonic Dances - the big hit of that winter - the Dvorak family were thrilled to be nursing a new baby, their beloved daughter Otilie. Donald Macleod presents complete performances of Dvorak's much-loved Wind Serenade, inspired by Mozart, and his charming Bagatelles for strings and harmonium.

Furiant in C major (Slavonic Dances, Op 46 No 1)
Peter Noke and Helen Krizos, piano duet

Skocna in A major (Slavonic Dances, Op 46 No 5)
Peter Noke and Helen Krizos, piano duet

Serenade in D minor, Op 44
Oslo Philharmonic Wind Ensemble

Bagatelles, Op 47
Vogler Quartet
Oliver Triendl, harmonium.

Donald Macleod explores how Dvorak's Slavonic Dances set off 'Dvorakmania' in Germany.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

04In The New World20160128

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

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

04In The New World20160128

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

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

04The American dream20191107

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?

“The Americans expect great things of me”. Dvořák’s arrival in New York in September 1892 has something of a mid-life crisis about it. Persuaded by the wealthy philanthropist Jeanette Thurber to take up a post of Director at the National Conservatory of Music, it was a chance to escape the shadow of his friend and fellow composer Johannes Brahms. America provided further successes, but also its own set of difficulties.

Today’s programme sees Dvořák embroiled in arguments about the nature of American music and struggling with homesickness. But he was also inspired by his time in America and we’ll hear music which began as a few scribbled notes on a shirt cuff in Iowa and a pieces written after a visit to the Minnehaha Falls.

Piano Trio in E minor, Op 90 (Dumky) (Allegro)
The Florestan Trio

Cello Concerto in B minor, Op 104 (2nd movt – Adagio ma non troppo)
Berliner Philharmoniker
Mstislav Rostropovich, cello
Herbert von Karajan, conductor

Violin Sonatina in G, Op 100
Jack Liebeck, violin
Katya Apekisheva, piano

Biblical Songs, op 99 (Oh, my Shepherd is the Lord & By the shore of the river of Babylon)
Dagmar Pecková, mezzo-soprano
Irwin Gage, piano

String Quartet No 12 in F major, Op 96 (American) (Lento)
Pavel Haas Quartet

Symphony No 9, Op 95 (From the New World) (1st movt – Adagio-Allegro molto
Royal Concertgabouw Orchestra
Nikolaus Harnoncourt, conductor

Produced by Cerian Arianrhod for BBC Cymru Wales

Donald Macleod focuses on the highs and lows of Dvorak's time in America.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

05On the Cusp of Greatness20170414

At the dawn of a new decade - the 1880s - Dvorak stood poised to conquer the musical world. Donald Macleod explores a series of works that made his name from Berlin to Brooklyn.

Long before the famous journey to the New World, the celebrated visits to this country, before even the great shaggy beard...there was once a young composer, obsessed with Wagner, scratching out a meagre living in obscurity in Prague - waiting patiently to snatch his moment as the most outstanding and distinctive musical voice his nation had ever heard. This week, Donald Macleod explores the critical period in the late 1870s when Antonin Dvorak first made his name, drawing musically from no fewer than four of Dvorak's early symphonies, his Piano and Violin Concertos, his much-loved Slavonic Dances, his String Quintet in G, and host of stage and chamber works.

As Dvorak stood on the cusp of worldwide fame, he found himself increasingly in demand from some of the Europe's greatest musical stars. Donald Macleod explores the Czech composer's relationship with conductor Hans Richter and violin virtuoso Joseph Joachim - as both politics, and the odd stray match, threaten to put a halt to the Dvorak juggernaut...

Symphony No 6 in D major, Op 60 (3rd mvt)
Lucerne Symphony Orchestra
James Gaffigan, conductor

Dimitrij (Act 4 excerpts)
Krassimira Stoyanova (Xenia, soprano)
Munich Radio Symphony Orchestra
Pavel Baleff, conductor

Violin Concerto in A minor, Op 52
Christian Tetzlaff, violin
Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
John Storgards, conductor.

Donald Macleod explores works that made Dvorak's name, from Berlin to Brooklyn.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

05On the Cusp of Greatness2017041420180629 (R3)

At the dawn of a new decade - the 1880s - Dvorak stood poised to conquer the musical world. Donald Macleod explores a series of works that made his name from Berlin to Brooklyn.

Long before the famous journey to the New World, the celebrated visits to this country, before even the great shaggy beard...there was once a young composer, obsessed with Wagner, scratching out a meagre living in obscurity in Prague - waiting patiently to snatch his moment as the most outstanding and distinctive musical voice his nation had ever heard. This week, Donald Macleod explores the critical period in the late 1870s when Antonin Dvorak first made his name, drawing musically from no fewer than four of Dvorak's early symphonies, his Piano and Violin Concertos, his much-loved Slavonic Dances, his String Quintet in G, and host of stage and chamber works.

As Dvorak stood on the cusp of worldwide fame, he found himself increasingly in demand from some of the Europe's greatest musical stars. Donald Macleod explores the Czech composer's relationship with conductor Hans Richter and violin virtuoso Joseph Joachim - as both politics, and the odd stray match, threaten to put a halt to the Dvorak juggernaut...

Symphony No 6 in D major, Op 60 (3rd mvt)
Lucerne Symphony Orchestra
James Gaffigan, conductor

Dimitrij (Act 4 excerpts)
Krassimira Stoyanova (Xenia, soprano)
Munich Radio Symphony Orchestra
Pavel Baleff, conductor

Violin Concerto in A minor, Op 52
Christian Tetzlaff, violin
Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
John Storgards, conductor.

Donald Macleod explores works that made Dvorak's name, from Berlin to Brooklyn.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

05Towards Dramatic Composition20160129

Donald Macleod focuses on Dvorak's productive final years.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

05Towards Dramatic Composition20160129

Donald Macleod focuses on Dvorak's productive final years.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

05Unfulfilled ambition20191108

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?

There was one musical form in which Dvořák never achieved the success he wanted. His first attempt at opera was immediately consigned to the bin by the critical composer and his second, as we heard on Monday, was a disaster. Despite these setbacks there was rarely a period in Dvořák’s life when he wasn’t writing opera.

Donald Mcleod considers what drove him to persevere, when his other works were so well received by audiences at home and abroad. Why was opera so important to Dvořák, and what held him back? We’ll hear extract from Vanda, The King and Charcoal Burner, Dimitrij and Rusalka as well as one of Dvořák’s other dramatic compositions, the tone-poem The Noonday Witch.

Vanda (Overture)
Prague Radio Orchestra
František Dyk, conductor

The King and the Charcoal Burner (Act 11, scene 7)
Lívia Aghová, soprano (Liduška)
Michelle Breedt, mezzo-soprano (Anna)
Peter Mikuláš, bass (Matěj)
Michal Lehotský, tenor (Jenik)
Prague Chamber Choir
WDR Rundfunkchor Köln & WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln
Gerd Albrecht, conductor

Dimitrij (Act 4, scene 3)
Krassimira Stoyanova, sopranp
Münchner Rundfunkorchester
Pavel Baleff, conductor

The Noon Witch, Op 196
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Charles Mackerras, conductor

Rusalka (Act 3)
Renne Fleming, soprano (Rusalka)
Ben Heppner (Prince
Franz Howlata (The Water Goblin)
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Charles Mackerras, conductor

Produced by Cerian Arianrhod for BBC Cymru Wales

Donald Macleod explores Dvorak's obsession with opera.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

201901A Determined Scribbler20191104

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?

Today we’re in the Czech Republic, where the not so young Dvořák eventually overcame professional and personal disappointment to wow audiences and critics alike. Highly self-critical of his own work, Dvořák claimed that as a young man he was never short of paper to light a fire. But despite a slow start he never gave up his dream of being a composer.

Thanks to some supportive individuals Dvořák was eventually catapulted to fame, despite an early attempt at opera which was declared “worse than Wagner … unsingable”.

We’ll hear a concert overture, a movement from the first of Dvořák’s symphonies to be performed publicly, and a series of love songs which were originally composed with his wife’s sister in mind.

Slavonic Dances, Op 46 (Dumka)
Chamber Orchestra of Europe
Nikolaus Harnoncourt, conductor

In Nature’s Realm, Op 91
Ulster Orchestra
Vernon Handley, conductor

Symphony No 3 in E flat major, Op 10 (3rd movt Allegro Vivace)
Czech Philharmonic
Jiří Bělohlávek, conductor

Písně Milostné, Op 83
Bernanda Fink, mezzo-soprano
Roger Vignoles, piano

Serenade, Op 44 (Minuetto)
Oslo Philharmonic Wind Soloists

Produced by Cerian Arianrhod for BBC Cymru Wales

Donald Macleod follows Dvorak as he struggles to make his mark as a composer.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

201902Influential Friends20191105

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?

By 1873 Dvořák was making a name for himself in Prague, but the musical snobbery of the day meant that to be thought truly successful a composer had first to make an impression in Vienna and the Germanic heartlands of classical music. Acclaim from Dvořák’s “narrow Czech fatherland” was not enough.

A state grant for struggling composers brought him into contact with many influential individuals, including Johannes Brahms who became an important friend. An introduction to Brahms’ publisher, Fritz Simrock led to “Dvořákmania”, but the Czech composer’s success came against a background of personal tragedy.

Today Donald Macleod examines Dvořák’s relationships with some of the influential individuals who championed his work, including Brahms, the conductor Hans Richter and the virtuoso violinist Joseph Joachim.

Piano Trio in F minor, Op 65 (Allegro grazioso: meno mosso)
The Florestan Trio

Moravian Duets, Op 32 (How small the field of Slavíkov is & Water and Tears)
Genia Kühmeier, soprano
Bernarda Fink, mezzo-soprano
Christoph Berner, piano

Symphonic Variations, Op 78
Prague Philharmonia
Jakub Hrůša, conductor

String Quartet No 10 in E flat major, Op 51 (Romanza)
The Emerson String Quartet

Violin Concerto in A minor, Op 53 (2nd movt – Adagio ma non troppo)
Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin
Marek Janowski, conductor
Arabella Steinbacher, violin

Produced by Cerian Arianrhod for BBC Cymru Wales

Donald Macleod explores Dvorak's relationship with influential figures in the music world.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

201903Notes From A Small Island20191106

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.

Donald Macleod asks how success in England changed Dvorak.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

201904The American Dream20191107

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?

“The Americans expect great things of me”. Dvořák’s arrival in New York in September 1892 has something of a mid-life crisis about it. Persuaded by the wealthy philanthropist Jeanette Thurber to take up a post of Director at the National Conservatory of Music, it was a chance to escape the shadow of his friend and fellow composer Johannes Brahms. America provided further successes, but also its own set of difficulties.

Today’s programme sees Dvořák embroiled in arguments about the nature of American music and struggling with homesickness. But he was also inspired by his time in America and we’ll hear music which began as a few scribbled notes on a shirt cuff in Iowa and a pieces written after a visit to the Minnehaha Falls.

Piano Trio in E minor, Op 90 (Dumky) (Allegro)
The Florestan Trio

Cello Concerto in B minor, Op 104 (2nd movt – Adagio ma non troppo)
Berliner Philharmoniker
Mstislav Rostropovich, cello
Herbert von Karajan, conductor

Violin Sonatina in G, Op 100
Jack Liebeck, violin
Katya Apekisheva, piano

Biblical Songs, op 99 (Oh, my Shepherd is the Lord & By the shore of the river of Babylon)
Dagmar Pecková, mezzo-soprano
Irwin Gage, piano

String Quartet No 12 in F major, Op 96 (American) (Lento)
Pavel Haas Quartet

Symphony No 9, Op 95 (From the New World) (1st movt – Adagio-Allegro molto
Royal Concertgabouw Orchestra
Nikolaus Harnoncourt, conductor

Produced by Cerian Arianrhod for BBC Cymru Wales

Donald Macleod focuses on the highs and lows of Dvorak's time in America.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

201905Unfulfilled Ambition20191108

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?

There was one musical form in which Dvořák never achieved the success he wanted. His first attempt at opera was immediately consigned to the bin by the critical composer and his second, as we heard on Monday, was a disaster. Despite these setbacks there was rarely a period in Dvořák’s life when he wasn’t writing opera.

Donald Mcleod considers what drove him to persevere, when his other works were so well received by audiences at home and abroad. Why was opera so important to Dvořák, and what held him back? We’ll hear extract from Vanda, The King and Charcoal Burner, Dimitrij and Rusalka as well as one of Dvořák’s other dramatic compositions, the tone-poem The Noonday Witch.

Vanda (Overture)
Prague Radio Orchestra
František Dyk, conductor

The King and the Charcoal Burner (Act 11, scene 7)
Lívia Aghová, soprano (Liduška)
Michelle Breedt, mezzo-soprano (Anna)
Peter Mikuláš, bass (Matěj)
Michal Lehotský, tenor (Jenik)
Prague Chamber Choir
WDR Rundfunkchor Köln & WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln
Gerd Albrecht, conductor

Dimitrij (Act 4, scene 3)
Krassimira Stoyanova, sopranp
Münchner Rundfunkorchester
Pavel Baleff, conductor

The Noon Witch, Op 196
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Charles Mackerras, conductor

Rusalka (Act 3)
Renne Fleming, soprano (Rusalka)
Ben Heppner (Prince
Franz Howlata (The Water Goblin)
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Charles Mackerras, conductor

Produced by Cerian Arianrhod for BBC Cymru Wales

Donald Macleod explores Dvorak's obsession with opera.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.