Dvorak Symphony no 9 (New World) & Cello Concerto

March 3, 2018 @ 7:00 pm – March 4, 2018 @ 3:00 pm
Brooklyn Theatre
c/o 13th Street & Thomas
R310, R260, R160

Dvorak Concert for the 100th Anniversary of Czechoslovakia
Gauteng Philharmonic Orchestra in collaboration of Embassy of the Czech Republic.

Sat 3 March 19:00
Sun 4 March 15:00

Dvorak – Symphony no 9 (New World)
& Cello Concerto
Czech Republic 100 years. In association with the Czech Embassy.
Czech cello soloist: Jan Pech
Czech conductor : Jan Štván

Block A (Adult) – R310 Block B (Adult) – R260
Block A (Senior) – R260 Block B (Senior)- R210
Block C (Row P, Q, R) – R160


Brooklyn Theatre (012 460 6033)
Greenlyn Village Centre
C/o Thomas Edison and 13th Streets
Menlo Park


Jan Pech (Cello)

RNDr. MgA. Jan PECH, Ph. D. (*1982) is an active musician working in parallel as a scientist in the laboratory of computational fluid dynamics at the Institute od Thermomechanics of the Czech Academy of Sciences.

His musical education came from the Prague Conservatory and Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (professors R. Lojda, D. Veis, J. Hošek). He participated the masterclasses in Semmering and succeeded in the Prague Spring competition in 2012.

As a cellist, he performed several recitals and cooperated with many orchestras (Berg, South Czech Philharmony, Philharmony of the Nations, NTUSO Taipei, Prague Youth Philharmonic, Talich Chamber orch.). As a soloist accompanied by orchestra, he performed cello concertos of C. Saint-Saëns, J. Haydn, A. Kraft and repeatedly the famous B minor concerto of A. Dvořák.

Jan Pech excels in interpretation of compositions written for cello solo, which are the most often performed pieces of his repertoire, especially O. Kukal’s „Violoncelliana“, Bach’s suites or solo sonatas of Z. Kodály or P. Hindemith; he premiered the solo sonata of M. Knížák.

Besides the classical music he acts in projects of other genres. He established the Prague Cello Quartet and now leads his “PECH cello quartet”. He is a member of group Aktual.

Jan Štván (Conductor)

International master courses by Genadij Rozhdestvenski in Siena, Italy. Next year he also took IMG by Helmuth Rilling in Oregon, USA and Stuttgart, Germany. In the same time he worked as a chorus master in a National theater in Prague and then 6 years as the conductor and principal conductor in Nord Czech philharmonic in Teplice. After a few years he came back to the National Theater in Prague, where he performed operas as for instance Ottelo, Tosca or Salome. 1998 he bacame principal conductor in Opera in Pilsen where he performed many opera premieres and symphony concerts, for example Beethoven IX or Dvořák Requiem. In the same time he became a guest conductor by Nürenberger symphoniker in Germany. In between he worked in many foreign states, as guest conductor, for example in Italy, Lebanon or Switzerland. Between the years 2013-2016 he has done more than 90 concerts in France with the Moravian philharmonic Olomouc.


For a brief period in his early 50s, Antonín Dvořák left his home in Vysoká, Czechoslovakia – and his position as composition professor at the Prague Conservatory – to oversee the newly-founded New York National Conservatory. He came as an international celebrity, having made a name and successful body of work in Europe, and he brought his cachet to a hungry “new world” at the infancy of its high culture.

The composer’s ninth and final symphony was overtly inspired by his time in America (1892 – 1895), an attempt at harvesting our native musical seeds in the soil of his established style. (Dvořák, like Ives, wove the folk tunes of his homeland into a contemporary, symphonic tapestry.) He seized on two local kernels, that of Native Americans and of slaves, albeit loosely and colored by his Slavic sensibility. He knew Longfellow’s epic poem, The Song of Hiawatha, and was inspired by the funeral of the protagonist’s lover (Minnehaha) when he wrote his Largo, and by the dance of the Indians when writing his Scherzo. The composer never claimed any ethnomusicological accuracy in his depiction of Native Americans. In his introduction to the piece, he wrote: “I have simply written original themes embodying the peculiarities of Indian music, and using these themes as subjects, have developed them with all the resources of modern rhythms, harmony, counterpoint, and orchestral color.”

The New York Conservatory may have been the vanity project of a wealthy socialite, Jeanette Thurber, but it was actually quite socially progressive. All races and nationalities were openly welcome, and tuition was generously matched to whatever students could afford. (Dvořák encouraged his students to mine the traditions of America’s mistreated natives and slaves in their compositions, as he had done with the folk tunes of Bohemia.) One student who benefitted from the school’s unusually equal treatment was Henry Burleigh, a Pennsylvania musician and the grandson of a former slave. Burleigh worked as a copyist for Dvořák, who encouraged him to sing the African-American spirituals and plantation songs he had inherited. The spirit of that heritage found a home in the symphony’s serene second movement, and Dvořák even acknowledged the timbre of Burleigh’s voice by assigning the melody to the English horn.

The symphony was written in the spring of 1893, and premiered in New York that December, quickly becoming the composer’s most loved and most performed musical offspring. He soon returned to his home country, and many critics hear as much nostalgia for Vysoká in his “New World” as any uniquely American flavor – a bias Dvořák would likely concede.

Cello Concerto in B Minor, Op. 104
by Phillip Huscher

Dvořák began his cello concerto in New York on November 8, 1894; he completed the score on February 9, 1895 (at 11:30 A.M.), revised the ending that June, and conducted the first performance, with Leo Stern as soloist, on March 19, 1896, in London. The orchestra consists of two flutes and piccolo, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, three horns, two trumpets, three trombones and tuba, timpani, triangle, and strings. Performance time is approximately forty minutes.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first subscription concert performances of Dvořák’s Cello Concerto were given at the Auditorium Theatre on January 29 and 30, 1897, with Leo Stern as soloist and Theodore Thomas conducting.

It was Victor Herbert, the composer of Babes in Toyland and Naughty Marietta, who inspired Dvořák to write the most beloved cello concerto in the repertory. We owe this historical curiosity, along with some of Dvořák’s most popular music, to Jeannette M. Thurber, the wife of a New York wholesale grocer, who exhausted her husband’s millions establishing an English-language opera company that folded and a National Conservatory of Music that flourished long enough to entice Dvořák to settle temporarily in the New World. The composer agreed to serve as director of her school for $15,000, and when he arrived in 1892, Victor Herbert was the head of the cello department. Herbert, who had come to the United States from Vienna only six years before, was highly regarded as a cellist, conductor, and composer, though he hadn’t yet written the first of the forty operettas that would make him enormously popular.

In 1892, Dvořák was as famous as any composer alive. Taking on an administrative title and a heavy teaching schedule was probably an unfortunate waste of his time and talents, although the music Dvořák wrote in this country includes some of his best: a string quartet and a string quintet (both titled American) composed in Spillville, Iowa; the New World Symphony; and this cello concerto.

For several years Dvořák had been unmoved by a request from his friend Hanuš Wihan, the cellist of the Bohemian Quartet, to write a cello concerto. During his second year at the National Conservatory, Dvořák attended the premiere of Victor Herbert’s Second Cello Concerto, given by the New York Philharmonic on March 9, 1894. It is difficult today to know why this long-forgotten score made such a deep impression on him, for Herbert was hardly an overwhelming or influential talent. But Dvořák enthusiastically applauded Herbert’s concerto, and he heard something in it that made him think, for the first time, that there was important music to be written for solo cello and orchestra. This concerto would prove to be the last major symphonic work of his career.

On April 28, 1894, Dvořák signed a new two-year contract with the conservatory. After spending the summer holiday in Bohemia, he returned to New York on November 1; a week later he began this concerto. While he was writing the second movement, he received word that his sister-in-law, Josefina Kaunitzová (with whom he had once been in love), was seriously ill. As a tribute to her, he quoted at length one of her favorite melodies, “Kéž duch můj sám” (Leave me alone), the first of his Four Songs, op. 82. He completed the concerto on February 9 (his son Otakar’s tenth birthday), at 11:30 in the morning.

After the premiere of the New World Symphony in 1893, Dvořák said, “I know that if I had not seen America I never would have written my new symphony.” The cello concerto shows no such outward signs of the composer’s American experience—it doesn’t imitate the rhythms and melodies of the native music he heard in the United States—and has often been accepted as an early warning sign of his homesickness. In fact, once Dvořák returned to Bohemia for the summer of 1895, with his new concerto in his bags, he realized that he couldn’t leave his homeland again; in August he wrote to Mrs. Thurber asking to be released from his contract. Since he had already contributed so much to American music, including a symphony as popular as any ever written, she could not refuse. The unveiling of the cello concerto, the last of Dvořák’s American products, belongs to the final chapter of his life: the premiere was given in London in March 1896, with the composer conducting. (The first American performance was not given until December.)

The literature for solo cello and orchestra isn’t extensive. At best, Dvořák can’t have known more than the single concertos by Haydn (a second was discovered in 1961) and Schumann, the first of Saint-Saëns’s two, and Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations for cello and orchestra. (He also knew the Triple Concerto by Beethoven and the Double Concerto by Brahms.) Dvořák had written one long-winded cello concerto in his youth and later said he thought little of the cello as a solo instrument (“High up it sounds nasal, and low down it growls”). Now, with little previous inclination and few useful models, Dvořák gave the form its finest example. Brahms is reported to have said, “Why on earth didn’t I know that one could write a cello concerto like this? Had I known, I would have written one long ago.”

The first movement of Dvořák’s Cello Concerto is as impressive as anything in the composer’s output.

The music is long and expansive. The orchestral exposition commits the textbook sin of traveling to a foreign key for the second subject—a luxury traditionally saved for the soloist—but Dvořák’s theme is so magnificent (Donald Tovey called it “one of the most beautiful passages ever written for the horn”) that it can justify the risk. Dvořák later admitted the melody meant a great deal to him. Once the soloist enters, the music grows richer and more fanciful. The development section dissolves into simple lyricism. By the recapitulation, Dvořák is writing his own rules: he bypasses his first theme and goes straight for the big horn melody, as if he couldn’t wait to hear it again. The movement is all the stronger for its daring and unconventional architecture.

Dvořák’s progress on the slow movement was sidetracked by the memory of Josefina, and, as a result, the music he wrote is interrupted midway by the poignant song she loved. The depth of his feeling for her, often debated and sometimes denied, is painfully clear. Josefina died soon after Dvořák permanently returned to Bohemia, and, hearing the news, he took this jaunty rondo finale down from the shelf and added a long, contemplative coda as a memorial. The concerto still ends in high spirits, but it’s no longer the same piece Dvořák took home from the New World.