The Full Works Concert - Monday 19 August: Dvorak
Another week of Great Composers concerts gets under way, tonight starting with Bohemia's greatest export.
The Symphony No. 8 in G major was composed and orchestrated within a two-and-a-half-month period in 1889 and dedicated by Dvorak to 'the Bohemian Academy of Emperor Franz Joseph for the Encouragement of Arts and Literature, in thanks for my election.' The Eighth Symphony is performed not nearly as often as the more famous Ninth. It's a cheery work and draws its inspiration from the Bohemian folk music that Dvořák loved.
The Rondo in G minor was written for Hanus Wihan, a renowned Czech cellist, considered the greatest of his time. In 1892 Wihan went on a five-month tour of Czech towns with Dvorak, during which Dvořák wrote the Rondo, which Wihan premiered in Chrudim. Dvorak also dedicated his Cello Concerto in B minor to Wihan.
It was the lure of an amazing fee that persuaded Dvorak to venture to New York. For a little teaching and conducting, with four month's vacation, he was promised the unimaginable salary of $15,000 - 25 times what he was paid in Prague, and worth about £500,000 in today's terms. Dvorak initially wrote the American Suite for piano in New York between 19 February and 1 March 1894. The piano version was performed soon after its composition, but the orchestral version waited some years. The orchestral version of the American Suite was first played in concert in 1910 and not published until 1911, seven years after Dvorak's death in 1904.
Dvorak's Piano Quintet in A major not surprisingly employs elements from Czech folk music, including styles and forms of song and dance, but not actual folk tunes; Dvorák created original melodies in the authentic folk style. This is a piece that musicians love to play - for both its musical and emotional content.
Dvorak: Symphony No.8 in G major
Charles Mackerras conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra
Dvorak: Rondo in G minor
Cello: Tomas Jamnik
Tomas Netopil conducts the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra
Dvorak: American Suite
Dmitri Yablonsky conducts the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra
Dvorak: Piano Quintet in A major