After two and a half years in America as Director of National Conservatory of Music in New York City, the Czech composer Antonin Dvořák and his family returned to Prague for good in April of 1895, and moved into his summer house in the Czech countryside.
In a letter to a friend, Dvořák wrote, “I am basking in God’s nature and am contentedly idle. I am not doing anything, which will probably surprise you, but it’s true, it really is. I’m just lazing around and I haven’t touched my pen!”
Well, Dvořák may have been telling the truth about not writing anything down, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t thinking about music -- and quite probably was mulling over not one, but two string quartets in his head.
In any case, in late autumn 1895, it took him just a month or so to complete his String Quartet No. 13 in G Major, published as his Op. 106. This was the first new work Dvořák wrote entirely in his native land after his years in America.
The new quartet premiered in Prague on today’s date in 1896, performed by the Bohemian Quartet, an ensemble which at that time included a violinist named Josek Suk, who was also a composer and who a few years later would become Dvořák’s son-in-law.