Antonín Dvořák: Legend in B-flat minor, Op. 59/10;
Slavonic Dance No. 7, Op. 46/7;
Místo klekání (mixed choir), Op. 29/1
Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major, Op. 19
Antonín Dvořák: The American Suite in A major, Op. 98b
Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37
The Festival Orchestra’s concert combines the works of the most prominent figure of 19th-century Czech national music Antonín Dvořák and one of the “3 B’s” of classical music, Ludwig van Beethoven, brightened by Slavic notes and piano parts that stand out from the rest of the instruments.
Dvořák’s career had a rocky start, but reached incredible heights. Though his parents wanted him to become a butcher, he preferred to take piano and organ lessons. He was a humble workaholic, given to composing practically non-stop, but did not publish his works for a long time because he did not think they would interest anyone. In 1874 he won a prestigious music competition, earning him a grant from the Austrian state as well as the support and friendship of Brahms (another one of the 3 B’s). He went on to one success after another with catchy melodies gaining him worldwide popularity. He demonstrated perfect ease in every musical genre, and great variety in his compositions performed at the concert. He introduced a Slavic touch, rhythms and dance forms into classical music, exemplified most clearly by Slavonic Dance No. 7 and his choral Misto klekáni.
The concert features two piano concertos, No. 2 and 3 from the other star of the evening, Beethoven. The former, reflecting the influence of Mozart (and to a lesser degree, Haydn), was his first published piano concerto, even though it was assigned the number “2”. Piano concerto No. 3, composed a few years later, is a clearly Beethovenian work, mature, powerful and unlike anything else, and giving a way more important and prominent role to the piano.