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WHAT THEY SAID ABOUT DVORAK

SIR CHARLES MACKERRAS, conductor

“Dvorak has always been a favourite composer of mine. His compositions embrace a vast range of different styles hardly equalled by any composer other than Mozart. Think of his great symphonies, descriptive tone poems, dramatic operas, simple songs, chamber and piano music. His works, although frequently inspired by Czech nationalism are, however, completely cosmopolitan and have an international appeal. In my opinion, Dvorak belongs in the very top rank of composers.”


EDWARD ELGAR, composer

“I wish you could hear Dvořák’s music. It is simply ravishing, so tuneful and clever and the orchestration is wonderful: no matter how few instruments he uses it never sounds thin. I cannot describe it, it must be heard.”

 


RENÉE FLEMING, soprano

“I have always felt a special connection with Dvorak’s work. While I was a student, I discovered his opera Rusalka and was swept away by the beauty of the music. Productions of Rusalka were once a rarity but happily, the opera is steadily growing in popularity. It makes me very happy to see that Rusalka’s moon is still rising... and will continue to shine brightly.”


JIRI BELOHLAVEK, conductor

“As soon as I began studying to be a conductor, Dvorak’s symphonic works became the practical axis around which all my subsequent forays into the Czech symphonic repertoire developed. I can say that, during my thirty years of conducting to date, I performed Dvorak’s music wherever I found myself. I realised right at the beginning and I feel this today, that it’s such a great privilege for us, Czech musicians, that we can propagate Dvorak’s oeuvre and nurture this supreme wealth which, in my opinion, has yet to be fully evaluated. It is my desire and passion to show Czech and foreign audiences Dvorak’s work in all its breadth and diversity. This is one of the tasks I have set for the entire remainder of my professional career...” 

 


JAROSLAV SEIFERT, poet

“I regret the fact that I am not schooled in music, but my life would be all the poorer without it. I must have it, I have to hear it every day, one can never really have too much of it. And the Slavonic Dances! Not a day goes by without one of them making itself heard. It is as if, in them, we hear all the boundless musicality sealed within the heritage of this nation, all the melodious qualities of the people and their inherent talent for dancing. Of all his melodies, it seems as if, in the Dances, the jubilation of this music comes pouring out in a single creative gesture.”


JEAN SIBELIUS, composer

“It is very rare for an artist that his outward expression finds itself in such perfect accord with his art, as it does in the case of this great Czech musician, in whom the purely human aspects and the artistic traits come together as one.”                                                         
 


HANS VON BÜLOW, conductor

“Whatever I decide to perform, I stand behind it. For me, alongside Brahms, Dvorak is the most important musician.”


LIBOR PESEK, conductor

“The music of Antonin Dvorak sounds as virtuous as his wonderful name. His music has accompanied me my entire life and so I venture to think that I know Dvorak right down to the gentlest quivers of his soul. I perhaps know him better than I know those closest to me. He is very much a part of me and I don’t know what we would have done without his music. Because he has said practically everything on our behalf. Both in joy and in suffering.”


GABRIELA BENACKOVA, soprano

“Antonin Dvorak had the ability to bring us contentment, joy, life harmony, and fervent declarations of love. Sometimes I regret never having met him in person. I am glad that I am able to sing his wonderful works which give me a sense of artistic fulfilment and to which I, too, have given a piece of my heart.”


FRANTISEK ADOLF SUBERT, director of Prague’s National Theatre 1883 - 1900

“He used to come to my office, either when he had finished something he was working on, or when they were rehearsing one of his works. I don’t remember him ever sitting down. He usually walked about the room, sometimes he would approach my desk or go over to the window, and he would speak or listen while often staring into the distance. And it would happen that, in the middle of a sentence, he would suddenly stop and lose himself in thought. Deep within him a lark would take to the air and begin singing some melodies which he might start whistling there and then. After a while, he would come back down to earth and take up the conversation once more. And then, at other times, he would turn on his heel and rush out of the room without another word. He would perhaps come back a few days later “to finish what we were discussing”. It was music that was doing all this. You could almost tell from the look in his eyes and the expression on his face that, within him, whirling around constantly, was a fountain of notes in those innumerable melodic combinations which he used to create his works.”


VACLAV HAVEL, playwright

“Antonin Dvorak is one of the great figures in Czech history who showed us how best to integrate ourselves into broader world contexts by being good at what we do and by doing our own work well. He, himself, entered international consciousness not by shouting his name to the world and by pointing his finger at himself, but through his entire being, through his work, his achievements, and also through his spirituality.”


MICHAEL TILSON THOMAS, conductor

“The world needed Antonin Dvorak even before he was born, and we can only express our gratitude that he lived among us. In a language comprehensible to all, Dvorak communicates a message of universal validity – a message of hope, noble-mindedness, integrity, humility and courage.”


JOSEF SUK, violinist

“I am immensely proud of my famous great-grandfather. His superb music has accompanied me on all my international concert tours. He was a brilliant composer, next to W. A. Mozart, the greatest.”


MARIE CERVINKOVA - RIEGROVA, Dvorak’s librettist

“I like Dvorak. He is extremely good-hearted and natural. He loves music with a passion and he is convinced that it is the best thing in the world. When he looks through a piece of music, the deep furrow dividing his brow becomes even more pronounced. Dvorak doesn’t have any high notions of himself, his fame in the world has no influence on him; he has remained as natural as he was before.”


VACLAV TALICH, conductor

“Antonin Dvorak knew how to listen to nature. In his mind, the tangible values of objects are transformed into the spiritual values of music. Trees, streams, stones – they all sing. The naturalistic rhythms of village music are recast into rhythmical poetry. The land sings... Dvorak had a supreme command over the techniques of his trade, in fact, he surpassed them, but he imbued them with the spirit of his homeland and this, in my opinion, is what made him a world-class composer. There is only one way to arouse the world’s interest in our culture: to master the technical achievements of our day while, at the same time, not forgetting to speak Czech well.”


VLADIMIR FRANZ, composer

“For me, Dvorak is a holy angel. This country has never produced a greater genius. Even if he cooked dumplings, music would come out of the mix.”


JAN NERUDA, writer

“I am not personally acquainted with Dvorak, I do not know what he is like, but I take him to be a true musician. In other words, a ‘poet of the air’, as true musicians are known, hardly concerned with what is going on down there on Earth, far below them... He is accused of still having too much imagination and too little composure. It seems that he is also very ambitious. Bravo! I would embrace him for that! And, if that weren’t enough, he is apparently working too hard. Let us criticise the ocean for having too many waves!”


JOSEF SUK, composer

“Truth without superficiality, true democracy which doesn’t court the powerful or elevate its own greatness above those “lower down”, self-confidence of the Chosen One without conceit, the most profound emotion without sentimentality, ineffable joy from his work, a pure and genuine relationship with God and people – these were the qualities of his soul. But still the constant creative unease! I can see the Maestro’s hand now, even during a lull in the conversation, his fingers continually playing restlessly on his lapel, as if on the keys of a piano. It seemed as if he were thinking only through music.”


ZDENEK MAHLER, writer

“In Dvorak God created a Czech, the way he was meant to be.”


ILJA HURNIK, composer

“I spent my childhood in the small Silesian village of Poruba. All we had there was wind band music which they played during Sokol training drills. One day the Poruba postmaster died, he was a nice, kind man. I was six at the time; in my school uniform, together with the Sokols, I was a guard of honour at the coffin, and I heard music I had never heard before; it was exquisite. Up there in the choir a violinist was playing something mournful, so painful the tears welled up in me. After the funeral I found out that this piece was written by the great composer Antonin Dvorak and that it was called Humoresque.”


PETER DVORSKY, tenor

“When, as a little boy, I began to acquaint myself with wonderful music, its richness, colour and variety, one of the musical geniuses I liked immediately was unquestionably Antonin Dvorak. Later on, during my studies at the Conservatoire, I became more familiar with the Maestro’s works and began increasingly to understand the depth and fervour that lay within them. When I could choose which composer I would perform, I always preferred Dvorak to the Italian opera masters. Each time, hearing the notes that he wrote brings me a profound sense of enrichment and awareness.”


LEOS JANACEK, composer

“You know when someone takes the words right out of your mouth before you have even managed to express them? That’s how it always was for me in the company of Dvorak. As a person, he was like his music, they were one and the same. His melodies truly echo what is in my heart. Nothing on Earth can break such a bond.” 


JOHANNES BRAHMS, composer

“It would be wonderful if the major ideas that occur to me were like the ones that occur to Dvorak simply in passing.”


OTAKAR SOUREK, Dvorak’s biographer

“Dvorak’s oeuvre looms high above all favour and disfavour. It is the work of a Genius blessed by God and, as such, it will remain not only perpetually living, but also perpetually new and, one might add, also modern – the lasting pride of Czech music.”


JOSEF HLAVKA, architect and patron

“For me, whatever Dvorak says about music is sacred.”


VITEZSLAV NOVAK, composer

“How did he regard the great composers? He revered Beethoven, whom he continually cited as an example to us, he admired Wagner and Berlioz, he had great respect for Brahms, and he loved Schubert, his kindred spirit. This list of names, if incomplete, demonstrates that Dvorak’s taste in music was in no way partisan. The master was aware of everything beautiful and original that had been created in music, and his comments and comparisons were fascinating, and often highly original as well...”


BOHUSLAV MARTINU, composer

“Dvorak was one of those who showed me the path that an artist and composer should take. Perhaps because he expressed his national affinity and his Czechness with such sincerity and because in this approach was something that I, myself, wanted to express. As an individual Dvorak emanated some kind of rare affability, a sense of humanity and well-being. If anyone expressed a healthy and joyful attitude to life, it was him. Music should always be joyful, even when it is tragic. Happy is the man who leaves behind a legacy such as this.”


LEOPOLD STOKOWSKI, conductor

“Nature rendered him one of the greatest musicians of all time.”

                                              

ERICH KLEIBER, conductor

“His music reflects a crystal clear image of the Czech landscape and the soul of the Czech people... In all his works, whether song, chamber piece, symphony or any of his operas, we will always find places which lift our hearts.”


EVA URBANOVA, soprano

“Antonin Dvorak is my most cherished composer. If he had written nothing else but the Biblical Songs, that would have been enough. When I have the opportunity to sing them, I feel as if I were in heaven. He was someone who was able to extend a direct link to God; his music opens up the skies. No other composer makes me feel like this.”

 

EDVARD GRIEG, composer

“We will always remember Antonin Dvorak as one of the few great figures of our day. I recognised in him a kind-hearted, truly enchanting individual. There was something severe and restless about him, something which unsettled people who didn’t know him. But this soon disappeared and I am glad that he has left me forever with the impression of a man whose personal and artistic aims were high.”