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Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Wednesday, October 14

Dvořák's Violin Concerto

Synopsis

On today’s date in 1883, the premiere of Antonín Dvořák’s Violin Concerto was given in Prague by the Czech violinist František Ondrícek with the National Theatre Orchestra led by a Czech conductor named Moric Anger, an old friend of the Dvořák’s and his one-time roommate.

The concerto was commissioned by the distinguished violinist Joseph Joachim, an old friend and collaborator of the German composer Johannes Brahms. Brahms had sent Joachim two of Dvořák’s chamber works for strings. Joachim expressed enthusiasm for these pieces and urged Dvořák to write a concerto for him.

So far, so good.

Dvořák had a finished score by December 1879, but Joachim had what we now would call “some issues” with the score, and, by the time Dvořák was finishing the last revisions, three years had elapsed with no talk of a premiere. Dvořák realized Joachim was unlikely to ever premiere the new Concerto, so he offered it to Ondrícek, a young virtuoso who eagerly championed it in Prague and abroad.

We should note that Joseph Joachim finally did perform Dvořák’s Concerto in Berlin in 1894, some 15 years after he had commissioned it.

Music Played in Today's Program

Antonin Dvořák (1841 - 1904) Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 53

Additional Information

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