Two of my favourite cello concertos on one record, performed by the famous Rostropovitch. A stunning recording that never fails to make me cheerful. Dvořák’s concerto was written in 1894, in America. The last part of it was written when Dvořák returned home to Bohemia. The concert tells the story of his longing for his native country, and his homecoming.
Dvořák was invited to America to be a guide for the American music. To bring that so coveted European style of classical music to America. The suggestion is that without a move like that, American classical music basically would not exist. Nowadays this view has been criticised, and rightly so. America already had some brilliant composers earlier in the nineteenth century (George Frederik Bristow, Amy Beach, Edward MacDowell).
The time he spent in America certainly brought Dvořák his best works: his celloconcerto, his famous ninth symphony, and his string quartet in F major (op 96). It made him quite popular, and the outrageous salary he got must have made him a happy man. But the pull of Bohemia finally was too strong, and he returned in 1895.
He might not have had the huge European influence his bosses were looking for, but Dvořák did a lot to emancipate black music. The New York Herald quotes him in 1893, saying: In the Negro melodies of America I discover all that is needed for a great and noble school of music. That quote makes him a hero for many aspiring black musician or composer.
I wanted to write about Rostropovitch… Next time then.