Home > Forum > Antonin Dvorak

Antonin Dvorak

Did Tchaikovsky ever meet Antonín Dvorak? If so— what can you tell us of Tchaikovsky's impressions of his music and the composer himself.


George Boyd

In the ‘’Diary of My Tour in 1888’’ Tchaikovsky characterizes Grieg :

"There entered the room a very short, middle-aged man, exceedingly fragile in appearance, with shoulders of unequal height, fair hair brushed back from his forehead, and a very slight, almost boyish, beard and moustache.

There was nothing very striking about the features of this man, whose exterior at once attracted my sympathy, for it would be impossible to call them handsome or regular ; but he had an uncommon charm, and blue eyes, not very large but irresistibly fascinating, recalling the glance of a charming and candid child.

I rejoiced in the depth of my heart when we were mutually introduced to each other, and it turned out that this personality, which was so inexplicably sympathetic to me, belonged to a musician whose warmly emotional music had long ago won my heart".

Life and letters of Tchaikovsky, by Modest Tchaikovsky and Rosa Newmarch (Vienna House Inc.)

Kenji Sugiyama (Japan)

I 'm sorry. My comment was fatal mistake. Subject is not Greig but DVORAK!!

Ignore my comment please. Thanks a lot.

Kenji Sugiyama (Japan)

Tchaikovsky and Dvořák first met at the National Theatre n Prague in February 1888, during preparations for a production of Evgenii Onegin, which Dvořák described as "such beautiful music as permeates the sole and cannot be forgotten". During this visit Tchaikovsky also attended rehearsals of Dvořák 's Seventh Symphony, which he also admired.

On Tchaikovsky's initiative, Dvořák visited Russia to conduct concerts of his own works in February and March 1889, although Tchaikovsky was conducting in Europe at the time. They also missed each other when Tchaikovsky returned in Prague in late 1892 for a production of the Queen of Spades, while Dvořák was in America. But their correspondence shows a warm relationship between the two composers. Scores of Dvořák 's opera Dmitry and his Second Symphony, bearing the Czech composer's inscriptions, are still preserved in Tchaikovsky's library at the Klin House-Museum.

Brett Langston

There are no detailed comments from Tchaikovsky concerning in particular works of Dvořák. There is just one entry in his diaries from 2nd February 1888, where he wrote, that Dvořák’s quintett was pleasant to hear (in Prague).

But vice versa we know more from Dvořák’s reactions concerning works of Tchaikovsky. Janáček indicated, that Dvořák studied very exactly works from colleagues. This stimulated him sometimes for creation of his own works. He studied foreign works, which he admired, but also works, which made him angry !. In a letter from 8thApril 1879 to the publisher Simrock he wrote, that he just played a symphony on piano (Tchaikovsky’s 4th symph.), which he regarded as “terrible”. Notices from Oskar Nedbals (found in the theatre department of the national museum) are indicating, that Dvořák was at first irritated about Tchaikovsky’s 5th symph. But when Dvořák composed his own 8th symph. in 1889, he was so impressed by Tchaikovsky, that his own 8th symph. can be regarded as a reaction on Tchaikovsky’s work. (musical details see also: “Dvořák’s eighth Symphony: A response to Tchaikovsky ?” in “Rethinking Dvořák, Views from Five countries” edited by David Beveridge, Oxford 1996).

Furthermore there are some similarities between Tchaikovsky’s 5th symphony and the famous cello concerto (Op. 104, the “10th symphony”) of Dvořák. Compare the first five bars respectively at the beginnings of these great symphonic pieces.

Finally there are some parallels between Tchaikovsky and Dvořák. Both composers wrote a lot of operas, which are interesting and not well known outside their homelands. Both composers wrote symphonies and also symphonic poems, even if Dvořák started with that after the composition of his symphonies. The richness of melodies and the diversity of the composition genres are typical for Tchaikovsky and Dvořák. Dvořák got two years earlier the honorary doctor of the university of Cambridge. And one year after Tchaikovsky he was invited to come to New York

Rüdiger Herpich

Tchaikovsky received a letter from Dvorak, on January 2nd,1889.

“DEAR FRIEND,——-When you were lately with us in Prague I promised to write to you on the subject of your opera Oniegin. I am now moved to do so, not only in answer to your request, but also by my own impulse to express all I felt on hearing your work.I confess with joy that your opera made a profound impression on me —— the kind of impression I expect to receive from a genuine work of art, and I do not hesitate to tell you that not one of your compositions has given me such pleasure as Oniegin。

It is a wonderful creation, full of glowing emotion and poetry, and finely elaborated in all its details; in short, this music is captivating, and penetrates our hearts so deeply that we cannot forget it. Whenever I go to hear it I feel myself transported into another world. 

I congratulate both you and ourselves upon this work. God grant you may give us many another like it. 

I embrace you, and remain your sincerely devoted ANTON DVORAK.”

Life and letters of Tchaikovsky, by Modest Tchaikovsky and Rosa Newmarch (Vienna House Inc.)

Kenji Sugiyama

This discussion is closed and has been archived, but you are welcome to try our new forum at:

This page was last updated on 05 November 2013