November 17, 1878, marked a milestone in the career of the 37-year old Czech composer Antonin Dvorak. For the first time Dvorak engaged and conducted the orchestra of the Provisional Theater in Prague in a concert entirely of his own works, including the premiere performance of a new Serenade for Winds.
Earlier that year, Dvorak heard a performance of a Mozart wind serenade in Vienna, and was so taken by the sound of Mozart’s double-reeds and horns that he wrote a similar work of his own in just two weeks.
Dvorak added to the open-air feel of Mozart’s 18th century wind serenade some lively 19th century Czech dance rhythms. But he also chose the key of D minor, reserved by Mozart for some of his most serious works. That enables Dvorak’s Serenade to seem both somber and upbeat, infused with musical shadows AND sunlight.
The new Serenade was well received in Prague and also in Vienna, where one its biggest fans was Johannes Brahms, who wrote: ``A more lovely, refreshing impression of real, rich and charming creative talent you can't imagine,” wrote Brahms, “I think it must be a pleasure for the wind players!''
Music Played in Today's Program
Antonin DvorakSerenade for Winds in D minorSaint Paul Chamber Orchestra; Hugh Wolff, cond.Teldec CD
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