Composers Datebook®

Dvořák and friends

Antonin Dvořák (1841 – 1904): String Quartet in Eb, Op. 51 (Takacs Quartet) London 466 197

Composer's Datebook - July 29, 2021


July 29, 2021


As a young man in his 20s, just starting out on his musical career, the Czech composer Antonin Dvorak had a rough time making ends meet. He played viola in a theater orchestra, worked as a church organist, and took on music students.

But by the time he hit his 30s, things started to click. His own music, composed in his rare, free moments, was starting to attact attention. The German composer Johannes Brahms took him under his wing and helped Dvorak find a publisher.

The year 1878 was a particularly auspicious one for Dvorak. He was in his late 30s, and the publication of his first set of Slavonic Dances for piano four-hands had proven to be something of a smash hit with amateur musicians across Europe. Some of Dvorak’s orchestral and chamber works published that year were also doing very well.

Dvorak was approached by the leader of the Florentine String Quartet and asked to write a chamber piece in his popular “Slavonic” style. The result was Dvorak’s “String Quartet No. 10, Op. 51.”

Dvorak showed it to Brahms, who liked the new work and in turn showed it to some of HIS friends, including Josef Hellmesberger, whose String Quartet was the best in Vienna. But as it turned out, Dvorak’s new Quartet was premiered in Berlin, on today’s date in 1879, by the Quartet headed by another of Brahms’ old friends, the virtuoso violinist Joseph Joachim.

Music Played in Today's Program

Antonin Dvořák (1841 – 1904): String Quartet in Eb, Op. 51 (Takacs Quartet) London 466 197

On This Day


  • 1865 - Russian composer Alexander Glazunov, in St. Petersburg (Gregorian date: August 10)

  • 1887 - Hungarian born American operetta composer Sigmund Romberg, in Nagy Kanizsa; He came to the U.S. in 1909, and settled in New York City, where his over 70 operettas were produced from 1914-1945

  • 1900 - Soviet composer Alexander Mosolov, in Kiev (Gregorian date: August 10)

  • 1925 - Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis, in Chios; He achieved international fame for his score for the 1965 film "Zorba the Greek"


  • 1856 - German composer Robert Schumann, age 46, at an insane asylum in Endenich (near Bonn


  • 1879 - Dvorák: String Quartet in Eb, Op. 51, in Berlin, by the Joachim Quartet

  • 1962 - Gene Gutchë: Symphony No. 5 for strings, in Chautauqua, N.Y.