Quotes & Statements

excerpt from a letter to Bohumil Fidler, 9. 1. 1886:

“Esteemed Sir!

I must confess to you in all sincerity that even your cherished letter somewhat took me aback, and this for its extreme flattery and humility; it seemed as if you were addressing some demigod; I have never thought of myself as such, nor will I ever in the future. I am quite a simple Czech musician and do not care for such blatant humiliation and, despite the fact that I have moved considerably in great music circles, I still remain what I have always been – a simple Czech musician.”

excerpt from a lecture Dvořák gave at the Prague Conservatoire:

“To have a wonderful idea is nothing special. The idea comes of its own accord and, if it’s fine and great, man cannot take the credit for it. But to take a fine idea and make something great of it, that is the hardest thing to do; that is what real art is!”  

excerpt from a newspaper interview:

“Gluck apparently stated that he always had his operas ready and completed in his head before he wrote them down. I don’t know if this is true; however, to a certain extent, I find this assertion appropriate in my case. I always make sketches which contain the essential elements for my motivic work, for the musical expression I have in mind. My imagination needs to be stimulated, but then it sweeps me along by itself.” 

excerpt from a letter to Josef Boleška, 15. 1. 1895:

“Not everything is for everyone and not everyone is for everything...”

in front of Raphael’s Ansidei Madonna at the National Gallery in London:

“See? This here is Mozart. It’s so beautifully composed. That landscape behind the throne, we don’t know why it’s there, but it’s beautiful and this is how it has to be. In Brussels they have paintings by Brueghel, huge paintings that are simply overpowering, and you immediately sense how small man is. And that’s Beethoven.”

in front of the Niagara Falls:

“Heavens, definitely a symphony in B minor!”

reflecting on the official ceremony at which Dvořák was presented with an honorary degree from Cambridge University:

“I don’t like these official ceremonies! And if I have to attend one, I’m all of a flutter. I’ll never forget the feeling I had when they gave me an honorary doctorate in England: all that ceremony and all those doctors! Everyone looked so serious and it seemed as if no-one knew any other language except Latin! I tried to listen to what was going on all around me, but I didn’t know who I was supposed to be listening to. And when I realised that they were speaking to me, I was stunned and ashamed that I didn’t know any Latin. But when I think of it today, I have to laugh, and I tell myself that to compose Stabat mater means a lot more than knowing Latin, after all...”

quotation from a lecture Dvořák gave at the Prague Conservatoire:

“Mozart is sweet sunshine!”

excerpt from a letter to Fritz Simrock, 10. 9. 1885:

“Let’s hope that nations which have and represent art will never cease to exist, no matter how small they are. You must excuse me, but I simply wanted to tell you that an artist also has his country, a homeland in which he has to have unshakable faith and for which he has a fervent heart.”

remembering his days at the organ school: 

“At the organ school everything smelt mouldy. Even the organ! Anyone who wanted to study there had to be able to speak German. He who spoke German well could be top of the class; if you didn’t speak German, you’d never get to be the best pupil. My German wasn’t good, and even if I did know something, I wasn’t able to express myself very well. My classmates looked at me through their fingers and they laughed at me behind my back! When they discovered that I wrote music, they said to one another: ‘Well, look at him! Did you know that Dvorak writes music as well?’”

excerpt from a letter to Alois Göbl, 31. 12. 1884:

“I’ve just finished the second movement of my new symphony, the Andante, and I am, once again, happy and blissful in my work, as has always been the case up until now and, God willing, will continue to be so, for my motto is and will be:

God, love, homeland!

These alone will lead to a happy conclusion!”

excerpt from a letter to Emil Kozánek, 12. 10. 1892:

“Even divine nature needs its diminuendos and morendos, in order to come to life again and rise up, heading for a great crescendo, attaining her strength and stature once more in a mighty ff.”

ode to the train engine:

“It comprises so many parts, so many different components, and each has its own importance, each has its proper place. Even the smallest bolt is where it is meant to be and fastens something together! Everything has its purpose and role and the result is astounding. This engine is then set on its railway track, they pour coal and water into it, a man pulls a small lever and then the big ones start to move and, even though the carriages weigh several thousand hundredweight, the engine speeds along with them like a hare. I’d give all my symphonies if I could have invented the locomotive!”