Antonín Leopold Dvořák was born in 1841 to František and Anna Dvořák. František was an innkeeper, butcher, and professional zither player. Antonín was their eldest child and showed an aptitude for music at a young age. At the age of six, he was learning to play the violin. He went on to study the organ and piano as well as music theory.
In his late teens, Dvořák lived in Prague and studied at the Organ School. After graduating second in his class, he applied for an organist position but was unsuccessful in securing the job. He remained in Prague and performed with the orchestras there during his twenties. At this time, he also started composing and was teaching on the side to supplement his income.
He married Anna Čermáková in 1873. Shortly after his marriage, Dvořák became the organist at St. Vojtěch Church in Prague.
In 1874, he won the Austrian State Prize for composition. This prize was intended to give some additional financial support to composers in need. Dvořák applied again in 1877 and was once again awarded the prize. Brahms was on both juries that awarded the prize and he was much impressed by the talent and volume of Dvořák compositions. So much so that Brahms recommended Dvořák to his own publisher, Simrock. After the successful publication of Dvořák’s Moravian Duets, Simrock commissioned him for a series of dance pieces, published as the Slavonic Dances. This helped launch his international career.
Tonight the Prazak Quartet will bring us one of Dvořák’s better known chamber music pieces. Join us to hear Quartet in F Major, Op. 96, “American”. http://music-toronto.com/quartets/prazak.htm
Austrian composer Anton Bruckner was born in 1824 in Ansfelden. His family had been there for a number of years with his grandfather holding the position of schoolmaster and his father inheriting the same position the year before Anton was born.
Anton’s first music teacher was his father. Music was taught as part of the school curriculum and Anton was a good student in all areas. At the age of 9, he was sent by his father to another school to complete his education and continue his music studies. Unfortunately, his father passed away when Anton was only 13. The schoolmaster position was given to another successor and Anton was sent to the monastery in Sankt Florian to be a choir boy and continue on with his studies in violin and organ.
Even with his obvious musical abilities, Anton’s mother sent him to train as a teacher when he was 17. Achieving excellent marks in his training, he was giving a teaching assistant position in Windhaag. He was to spend the next 2 years there quietly putting up with terrible living conditions, low pay, and teaching subjects that had no connection to music.
He was finally transferred to a school back near Sankt Florian. Here he was also able to continue his own training and advance his teaching career. He was also able to play the organ again at the monastery. He remained in Sankt Florian for the next 10 years teaching and taking on the regular position of organist.
In 1855, Anton was accepted to study with music theorist Simon Sechter. Anton divided his time between Sankt Florian and Vienna as he pursued his own studies for a little more than a decade. In 1868, he accepted the position of teacher of music theory at the Vienna Conservatory after the passing of Sechter who had previously held the post. Eventually he accepted a teaching post at the Vienna University and stayed at the University until he was around 68 years old.
In addition to teaching, Anton continued to compose and perform. While he did not compose for organ, he was a well-known and respected organist in his time and gave several successful concerts in England and France. He died at the age of 72 in Vienna.
On March 2, 2017, the Prazak Quartet will play his string quartet on our stage. Subscriptions are currently on sale. Single tickets go on sale in September. http://www.music-toronto.com/