Dvořák – String quartet in F major “American” / String quartet in A flat major


If you have to rate the works of Dvořák, his works from his American period score really high. Together with the ninth symphony, this might be his most popular work. Both were composed in 1893, with Dvořák living in a small Czech enclave in Iowa. He composed the quartet in a total of sixteen days.

Though in recent years the influence of American folk music on both works have been doubted, they have been the subject of a lot of assumptions. Dvořák would even have added the rhythm of a train in the last movement because of his love of trains. Also sounds of American songbirds were identified, but mainly of course, African-American folktunes. As a result, before 1950, the quartet used to be called the Negro Quartet.

The influence of the quartet on American music is undeniable. Many later American composers have picked up on the medium of the quartet and tried their hand at it with Dvořák as their inspiration.

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