2-6-2001

 

Antonin Dvorak

(1841-1904)

 

   
 
Dvorak was born in a small village on the banks of the Vltava River, about forty-five miles north of Prague.  He went to school until the age of eleven.  At this age, he dropped out to become an apprentice butcher, and the next year went on to study German in Zlonce.
 
In  Zlonce most of Dvorak’s time was spent on music lessons, learning to play many instruments such as violin, organ, and piano.  He also learned basic composition.   With these classes his interest in music only grew. 
With many misgivings, Dvorak’s father enrolled him in the Prague Organ School.  At this specialized school, Dvorak received strict training in church music.  Though Dvorak enjoyed this training, he enjoyed even more attending the concerts gives by contemporary composers such as Wagner and Schumann. After graduation from the Prague Organ School in 1859, Dvorak joined the Provisional Theatre Orchestra as the head violinist.
Though this was a steady job Dvorak needed more income.  So Dvorak took up teaching which left him with limited free time.  This limited free time did not make Dvorak happy so in 1871 he gave up the orchestra to compose full time.  With this extra time, Dvorak found time to date and marry Anna Cermakova in 1873.
The next year in 1874, Dvorak entered no fewer than fifteen works including his Third Symphony into the Austrian National Prize.  Dvorak won and received a much needed cash prize, but more importantly he won the respect of Brahms who was one of the judges for the contest.  With this new found friendship, Dvorak was put in touch with Brahms’ publisher Simrock.  Simrock commissioned the first set of Slavonic Dances in 1878.  These melodies would be played for years to come across the world.  From these tunes, Dvorak’s fame escalated.

Dvorak began composing the Stabat Mater a few months after his first-born daughter, who was only two-day-old, had died and completed the sketch between February 19th and May 7th 1876. After that, however, he shelved the work for seventeen months and did not return to it after another misfortune sruck his family bitterly. His eleven-month-old second daughter drank a solution of phosphorus, and died on August 13th, 1877. Then his eldest son, with three-and-a-half years, caught smallpox and died on September 8th. Then he completed the score of Stabat Mater by November 13th in the same year. First perfomance was on December 23th, 1880 in Prague, with Adolf Cech conducting.

In 1884 Dvorak began to travel widely.  In 1884 he took his first of nine visits to London.  Many of what are considered his greatest works, such as his Seventh and Eighth Symphonies were composed in London.  Dvorak’s Seventh Symphony, often regarded as his best, powerfully tells of a mood of tragedy overlaid with ominous and foreboding overtones.  The Eighth Symphony is a great contrast to the Seventh, using folk melodies and colorful orchestration.

In 1891, Dvorak was appointed professor of  composition at the Prague Conservatoire.  He soon left this position to take up the offer of the position of Directorship of the National Conservatory of Music in New York.  He stayed there three years, spending all holidays in Spillville, a Czech-speaking community in Iowa.  This period in America brought inspiration to write some of this best loved music Symphony Number Nine From the New World and American String Quartet.  Both of these works made use of themes influenced by American Indian folk melodies and Negro Spirituals.  Dvorak would later admit that he chose to be influenced because of his homesickness in America.  Though homesick, in 1895 just before leaving America, he produced his most remarkable symphonic work Cello Concerto.

Returning to Prague with great relief, Dvorak resumed his position at the Prague Conservatoire, and in 1901 became the director.  For three years he devoted his creative energies to working on symphonic poems and operas.
 
Dvorak died from a short illness in 1904 at the age of sixty-two.  He is buried in Prague at the beautifully manicured cemetery at Vysehrad.

 

 

 

 

Stabat mater dolorosa 

(Hymnus de passione)

Jacopone da Todi 

(1230-1306) 

 

Stabat mater dolorosa

iuxta crucem lacrimosa,

dum pendebat filius;

cuius animam gementem,

contristatam et dolentem,

pertransivit gladius.

o quam tristis et afflicta

fuit illa benedicta

mater unigeniti,

quae maerebat et dolebat

Pia Mater, dum videbat  

nati poenas inclyti.


Quis est homo qui non fleret,

Christi matrem si videret

in tanto supplicio?

quis non posset contristari,

piam matrem, contemplari

dolentem cum filio?


pro peccatis suae gentis

vidit Iesum in tormentis

et flagellis subditum:

vidit suum dulcem natum

morientem desolatum,

dum emisit spiritum.


Eia mater, fons amoris,

me sentire vim doloris

fac ut tecum lugeam;

 

Fac ut ardeat cor meum,

in amando Christum Deum

ut sibi complaceam.

Sancta Mater, istud agas 

crucifixi fige plagas 

cordi meo valide.

 

Tui nati vulnerati 

tam dignati pro me pati 

poenas mecum divide.

 

Fac me vere tecum flere, 

crucifixo condolere 

donec ego vixero.
Iuxta crucem tecum stare 

et me tibi sociare 

in planctu desidero.

 

Virgo virginum praeclara 

mihi iam non sis amara 

fac me tecum plangere

 

Fac ut portem Christi mortem 

passionis fac consortem 

et plagas recolere.

Fac me plagis vulnerari 

fac me cruce inebriari 

et cruore filii.

 

Inflammatus et accensus, 

per te, Virgo, sim defensus

In die judicii.

Fac me cruce custodiri 

morte Christi praemuniri 

confoveri gratia.


Quando corpus morietur 

fac ut animae donetur 

paradisi gloria. Amen

  

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

De pé, a mãe dolorosa

junto da cruz, lacrimosa,

via o filho que pendia.

Na sua alma agoniada

enterrou-se a dura espada

de uma antiga profecia. 

Oh! Quão triste e quão aflita

entre todas, Mãe bendita,

que só tinha aquele Filho

Quanta angústia não sentia,

Mãe piedosa

quando via as penas do Filho seu!

 

Quem não chora

contemplando a Mãe de Cristo

num suplício tão enorme?

Quem haverá que resista

se a Mãe assim se contrista

padecendo com seu Filho?

 

Por culpa de sua gente

Vira Jesus inocente

Ao flagelo submetido.

Vê agora o seu amado

pelo Pai abandonado,

entregando seu espírito.

 

Faz, ó Mãe, fonte de amor

que eu sinta o espinho da dor

para contigo chorar.

 

Faz arder meu coração

do Cristo Deus na paixão

 para que o possa agradar. 

Ó Santa Mãe dá-me isto,

trazer as chagas de Cristo

gravadas no coração.

 

Do teu filho que por mim

entrega-se a morte assim,

divide as penas comigo.

 

Oh! Dá-me enquanto viver

com Cristo compadecer

chorando sempre contigo.

Junto à cruz eu quero estar

quero o meu pranto juntar

Às lágrimas que derramas.

 

Virgem, que às virgens aclara,

não sejas comigo avara

dá-me contigo chorar.

 

Traga em mim do Cristo a morte,

da Paixão seja consorte,

suas chagas celebrando. 

Por elas seja eu rasgado,

pela cruz inebriado,

pelo sangue de teu Filho!

 

No Julgamento consegue

que às chamas não seja entregue

quem por ti é defendido. 

Quando do mundo eu partir

daí-me ó Cristo conseguir,

por vossa Mãe a vitória.

 

Quando meu corpo morrer

possa a alma merecer

do Reino Celeste a glória. Amen.

   

 

 

LINKS

 

 

Stabat Mater

 

 

Catholic Encyclopedia

Site of Hans van der Velden

 

   

Dvorak

Biografia:

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Obra:      

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NEW WORLDS OF DVORAK
Searching in America for the Composer's Inner Life

By Michael B. Beckerman
Illustrated. 272 pages. W.W. Norton & Company. $29.95.

 

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