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Cat. No. CHAN 6678 Price: Ł4.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 6678 - Dvorak: Serenades
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Available From: 09 February 2004
Dvorák’s two serenades were written just before and just after he passed from comparative obscurity to the spotlight of an internationally renowned composer. Dvorák’s background was not a privileged one. Nevertheless, the composer was fortunate in that both his family life and his school life involved a great deal of practical music making. Dvorák became adept at the piano, organ and viola as well as the violin, and also studied musical harmony, figured bass and modulation, skills which stood him in good stead, for, having resolved to be a musician, he needed practical ways to support himself. He eked out a living by teaching and playing the viola in an orchestra. In 1866 he had the fortune to play under Smetana. Influenced by the older composer, Dvorák composed with increasing fluency and some of his smaller works began to be played in public concerts. As Dvorák entered his early thirties his long experience brought him confidence to write more ambitious works.

In 1873 he sent his symphony in E flat to the Austrian Commission for the State Music Prize. The board recognised the talent and awarded Dvorák 400 gold florins.The sunny Serenade for Strings was one of the first works Dvorák composed after he had received the money. It was not long before Johannes Brahms became interested in the works being sent to the commission by the unknown Czech and recommended them to his publisher, who issued the Moravian Duets for soprano and contralto. These were enthusiastically reviewed by the Berlin critic Louis Ehlert. Dvorák’s Serenade in D for Wind, full of national character, was composed as a tribute to the critic in gratitude for the endorsement.

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