Antonín Leopold Dvořák (1841 – 1904) was a Czech composer, conductor, andpedagogue, and one of the country’s most prominent and earliest internationallyrecognized musicians. Originally trained as a violinist, organist, and pianist,Dvořák was also a prolific composer of chamber, choral, and symphonic works.He garnered international acclaim in the 1870s with the publication of hisSlovanské tance, Op. 46, originally a piece for piano 4-hands later arranged fororchestra.
Dvořák’s music makes heavy use of Bohemian and Moravian folksong, oftenderiving rhythmic aspects and complete melodies for his own compositions.Later on, he also began to incorporate folk music from the United States, as wellas music written by his students. His orchestration is delicate and deliberate,intrinsically bound to his compositional voice as a whole, and offers a level ofdistinction between himself and other prolific romantic composers of the time.
In 1891, Dvořák began a professorship with the Prague Conservatory before being hired as the Director for theNational Conservatory of Music of America in New York City in 1892. Though he departed that position threeyears later, he wrote some of his most widely acclaimed pieces during that time, include his ninth symphony—From the New World—his Cello Concerto, and the String Quartet No. 12 in F Major, “American,” Op. 96.
Dvořák passed away in 1904, most likely due to complications from influenza. His body was interred at theVyšerad Cemetery in Prague.
Kurt M. Mehlenbacher
Vítězslav Hálek (1835 – 1874) was a journalist, author, poet, and theatre critic, and a prominent member of theMáj school. Reacting heavily to the Austro-centric cultural policies from the House of Hapsburg, Hálek and hiscolleagues focused on the development of Czech nationalist writings and the codification of the Czech languageas a literary avenue of expression.
Dvořák set poetry by Hálek on three different occassions: Dědicové bilé hory (1872), Večerní písně (1876), andV přírodě (1882)—the source material of this edition—though the composer used many tangential adeptationsand translations of Hálek’s work throughout his active career. The poetry for this set evokes the beauty of theBohemian landscape and complements many of the nationalistic elements seen in Dvořák’s own music.
This octavo contains two pieces: Napadly pisne and Vecerni les Rozvazal zvonky. Other octavos from V Prirode are published separately (Zitne pole, Vybehla briza belicka, and Dnes do skoko a do pisnicky).