Born into a humble family settled in Nelahozeves, a village near Prague, Antonín Dvořák left school at the age of 11 to learn his father's trades, butcher and innkeeper. Thankfully, Antonín's precocious musical gifts are quickly noticed, and the young boy is sent to study at his uncles's plance in Zlonice, then to Prague from 1857 onwards. Playing the viola in the Prager Kappelle's orchestra, Dvořák familiarized himself with the classical and contemporary masterworks. Enjoying a well-established reputation from his peers and the internation audience, Dvořák is in his lifetime a Major figure on the musical scene. Invited in Germanay, in France, in the United Kingdom and in the United States, Dvořák eventually went back to his homeland to manage the Conservatory of Pragua. Dvořák, who died in 1904, left a considerable oeuvre which has ever since been performed on the stages worldwide.
Composed in 1890, Dvořák's Requiem in B-flat Minor was premiered in 1891 during the Birmingham Festival. Based upon a four-note chromatic motif inspired from the fugue of the second Kyrie in Bach's B Minor Mass, Dvořák's Requiem is a dense and mysterious work in which the Czech composer intertwins musical and personal references. Besides the reference to Bach, the four-note chromatic motif was already used in Dvořák's opus 83 under the words "Oh when will the wave of life carry me away?." Expression of human doubt, of the fear of death, Dvořák's Requiem is with no doubt one of the Czech composer's masterpieces.
The Prague Symphony Orchestra's Dvořák Cycle Vol. IV
The Prague Symphony Orchestra's Dvořák Cycle Vol. I