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Dvorak in America
September 27, 1892Dvorak, wife and children arrive in Hoboken. In first public appearance he conducts world premiere of his Columbian Te Deum in Carnegie Hall. Assumes directorship of National Conservatory of Music of America on 17th Street and Irving Place. Family moves into five-room flat at 327 East 17th Street, near Stuyvesant Square Park.



Dvorak with his wife, children, and friends in New York.
Photo courtesy of Muzeum Antonina Dvoraka v Praze.
(Antonin Dvorak Museum in Prague)



Mid-December, 1892 - May, 1893
– Begins work on "American themes"; completes score of "New World" Symphony. New York Herald quotes Dvorak's famous statement, "In the Negro melodies of America I discover all that is needed for a great and noble school of music." Dvorak's "curious" theory also sets European musical world abuzz.

May 30, 1893 – Dvorak and family, including six children, plus entourage, leave by train for Spillville, Iowa, Czech-speaking farm village, to spend summer.

August 12, 1893 – Dvorak conducts gala "Bohemian Day" concert at Chicago
World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, besieged by visitors including conductor of Chicago Symphony, who arranges for performance of "American" String Quartet, just completed in Spillville.

Via Harry T. Burleigh, Dvorak's assistant from New York conservatory who introduced him to "Negro spirituals," Dvorak meets violinist Will Marion Cook who becomes Dvorak's student and celebrated Broadway composer and conductor, future mentor of Duke Ellington.

December 16, 1893 – World premiere of "New World" Symphony at Carnegie Hall, to instant acclaim.

January 1, 1894 – Kneisel Quartet premieres "American" String Quartet in F, opus 93, at Carnegie Recital Hall. Dvorak attends Sokol fundraising dinner for Bohemian National Hall.

February 1895 – Kneisel Quartet visits Dvorak for read-through of newly completed Cello Concerto. In April, Dvorak returns to Prague for good.

1902 – Composer Arthur Farwell launches "progressive movement" for American music, including a definite acceptance of Dvorak's challenge to go after our own folk music."

May 1, 1904 – Dvorak dies at age 63 in Prague. One obituary read: "If it were possible the Afro-American musicians alone could flood his grave with tears."

December 13, 1941 – Dedication ceremony at Dvorak House on East 17th Street honors his 100th birthday. Plaque mounting and speeches by Jan Masaryk and Mayor LaGuardia. Pianist Rudolf Firkusny and Metropolitan Opera star Jarmila Novotna perform "Biblical Songs," composed in the house. Burleigh and Kovarik, Dvorak's former assistants, attend.

November 11, 1993 – Dvorak's "Rusalka" finally premieres at Metropolitan Opera.