DAHA IN THE NEWS:
- Overlooked No More: Sissieretta Jones, a Soprano Who Shattered Racial Barriers
The legendary black singer Sissieretta Jones (1868-1933) was featured in the New York Times series of obituaries of remarkable, but overlooked, women in American history on August 15, 2018.
Backstory: Czech Composer Antonín Dvořák and New York music impresario Jeannette Thurber played an important role in catapulting the singer to fame in a newsmaking 1894 Madison Square Garden concert. The event, organized by Thurber as a fundraiser for the New York Herald Clothing Fund, featured black soloists, students, and the orchestra of the National Conservatory of Music of America, the institution Thurber founded and oversaw as President. Dvořák, the Conservatory Director appointed by Thurber, conducted at the concert, and Jones was a soloist. The previous year Jones was the first black singer to headline a concert at prestigious Carnegie Hall.
Thurber broke barriers by offering full scholarships to students with musical talent - including African-Americans, women, and the physically disadvantaged - as part of her mission. She invited Dvořák to become Director of the Conservatory from 1892 to 1895 to help jump-start an American school of composition, and he in turn recognized "Negro spirituals" as the true folk music of America and a rich source of musical themes. He captured the deep feeling of such melodies in the famous Largo, the slow movement of his Symphony "From the New World," which was later set to words by William Arms Fisher, a student of his, as a spiritual titled "Goin' Home."
By Majda Kallab Whitaker
Dvořák Manuscript Ranks Among Top Ten Treasures of New York Philharmonic Archives
New York Philharmonic Archivist and Historian Barbara Haws considers Dvořák’s “New World” Symphony manuscript to be among the top ten treasures she has unearthed in the New York Philharmonic Archives during her 34-year tenure. The document records how Dvořák’s renowned work, composed in New York City, was transformed by conductor Anton Seidl during rehearsals for the historic premiere on December 16, 1893. With the composer’s consent, Seidl changed the tempo of the famous second movement of the symphony from Larghetto to Largo, capturing the feeling of African-American spirituals that Dvořák heard sung by baritone Harry T. Burleigh of the National Conservatory of Music of America. Haws, who has lead digitization of the New York Philharmonic archives and provided unprecedented public access to its many holdings, is leaving to pursue her doctorate at Oxford University – delving into another treasure she unearthed: the travel diary of New York Philharmonic founder Ureli Corelli (1802-1875). Haws has collaborated with DAHA on many projects, as well as worked closely with DAHA Vice President, Professor Michael Beckerman, who has served as New York Philharmonic Leonard Bernstein Scholar-in-Residence from 2016 - 2018.
See the New York Times online article “10 Treasures, Unearthed From the New York Philharmonic’s Archives,” published in print Sunday, May 20, 2018 here.
New York Philharmonic Press Release: “Barbara Haws Named Archivist and Historian Emeritus at the New York Philharmonic,” April 18, 2018.
Barbara Haws lecture of 11/17/14 on DAHA’s YouTube Channel here.
By Majda Kallab Whitaker, DAHA
- Maestro Maurice Peress, March 18, 1930 - December 31, 2017
Distinguished American orchestra conductor, educator, author.
The Dvořák American Heritage Association mourns the loss of Maurice Peress, fellow board member, esteemed colleague, friend, and passionate advocate of composer Antonín Dvořák. He was one of the founding members of DAHA and fought to save the house in which Antonín Dvořák lived during his American residency in the 1890s. He started our Concert and Lecture series in 2006. Author of "Dvořák to Duke Ellington: A Conductor Explores America's Music and its African American Roots" and other works, he was committed to Dvořák and to DAHA. He shared his enthusiasm for Antonín Dvořák with his students at the Aaron Copland School of Music who always excelled when they played at our events at the Bohemian National Hall, under the baton of Maestro Peress. It was an honor and privilege to have him among us and we will miss him greatly.
Susan Lucak, President, Dvořák American Heritage Association (DAHA)
- From Antonín Dvořák to Rubin Goldmark and his Progeny
Who was Rubin Goldmark (1872-1936)? Answer: a star student of Czech composer Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) at the National Conservatory of Music of America in the early 1890s, and nephew of the important late-19th century Hungarian-born Viennese composer Karl Goldmark. When the young Rubin Goldmark presented a work that pleased Dvořák, the great composer famously commented “Now there are two Goldmarks.” At the time Goldmark was already a teacher of piano and music theory at the National Conservatory in New York City. In a long career that included teaching at the Juilliard School of Music and private instruction, Goldmark was a leading light among musicians and famously taught other composers, among them Aaron Copland and George Gershwin, who are sometimes called “grand students” of Dvořák.
Today we continue to learn of great- and great-great-grand students of Dvořák. Two have collaborated with the Dvořák American Heritage Association. Eric Ewazen, a Julliard faculty member whose works have been included in DAHA Spring Musicale programs, is a great-great-grand student of Dvořák, as the student of Milton Babitt, who studied with Philllip James, who studied with Rubin Goldmark. And composer, pianist, and DAHA Board Member Moshe Knoll recently discovered that one of his early teachers, Ozan Marsh, American pianist, pedagogue, arranger and composer at the University of Arizona, Tucson, studied directly under Goldmark, making Moshe the newest-minted great-grand student of Dvořák. Knoll recently premiered his Psalm 133 in concerts at the Merkin Concert Hall in New York and New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. It’s a small world when it comes to Dvořák and American music composition!
By Majda Kallab Whitaker
- DAHA Musical Notes
Star violinist Pavel Sporcl (with the blue violin) recently visited the Dvořák Room and Bohemian National Hall Ballroom to film a segment for his upcoming Czech TV series about famous Czech violinists. The focus: late-19th century violinistFrantišek Ondříček, who was encouraged to visit the United States by Antonín Dvořák and made his American debut with the New York Philharmonic in November 1895, playing Dvořák's Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 53, which he had premiered in Prague in 1883.
- Harry T. Burleigh (1866-1949): African-American Composer, Arranger, Baritone Singer, and Inspiration to Dvořák’s “New World” Symphony
DAHA recommends two new and noteworthy additions to Burleigh music appreciation and scholarship:
The recently formed Harry T. Burleigh Society has posted a recording of their path breaking concert: “Harry T. Burleigh Annual Service of Negro Spirituals at St. George’s Church: A Tribute,” performed on March 31, 2017. View the recording here http://bit.ly/2xq1rwn
Jean E. Snyder has published her milestone biography of Burleigh: Harry T. Burleigh: From the Spiritual to the Harlem Renaissance (University of Illinois Press, 2016). Purchase the book here: http://bit.ly/2y44qN6
- DAHA Offers Pop-up Chamber Music Concert at Juilliard
On Friday, September 22nd, Juilliard students previewed Dvořák’s rarely heard String Quartet No. 2, performed later in full concert on Sunday, September 24th at 3 PM., as part of Dvořák’s Chamber Music Survey series presented at the Bohemian National Hall by the Dvořák American Heritage Association. Musicians from the New York Philharmonic and friends were featured; organized by violinist Laura Jean Goldberg, Juilliard faculty member and DAHA board member.
Eric Ewazen, Composer and Professor at The Juilliard School remarked:
"I am THRILLED that you brought your quartet to my class! What a glorious performance! It was a treat for me to hear this gorgeous and joyous piece!"
The students raved about this performance saying: "Cool experience!"
- The Dvořák American Heritage Association Mourns the Loss of Two Beloved Figures from the Czech Music World:
Antonín Dvořák III, 88, grandson of Czech composer Antonín Dvořák
Jiří Bělohlávek, 71, Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
From the New York Times, June 1, 2017: “Jiri Belohlavek was the most devoted and to my mind the most profound proponent of Czech orchestral music in the world today,” Michael Beckerman, the Carroll and Milton Petrie Professor of Music at New York University and a Czech specialist, said by email. “His recordings and performances of Dvorak and Martinu, among other composers, were superb, thoughtful and filled with insight, but also wit and joy,” he added.
DAHA welcomed both in the Bohemian National Hall on several occasions and we will deeply miss them.
Insights at the Atrium Event Featuring Professor Michael Beckerman: “Origins of a New World Voice: NYC in 1893,” Monday, September 12, 2016
The New York Philharmonic 175th anniversary season commenced in late September with three exciting programs featuring Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, From the New World — the Philharmonic’s first World Premiere of a work written in New York that would become part of the standard repertoire. That history-making premiere took place in December 1893, and provides this year’s theme for the Philharmonic’s programming and educational outreach.
Kicking off the New York Philharmonic’s anniversary activities and The New World Initiative—which coincide with the 175th anniversary of the birth of Antonín Dvořák—the New York Philharmonic presented a free Insights at the Atrium event, “Origins of a New World Voice: NYC in 1893,”Monday, September 12, 2016, at 7:30 PM. A theatrical exploration of Dvořák’s time in New York and the American influences in his New World Symphony, the event was led by Professor Michael Beckerman, the author of Dvořák and His World, who has been named The Leonard Bernstein Scholar-in-Residence at the New York Philharmonic for the 2016–17 season.
Dr. Beckerman was joined by actors reenacting the reception of African American musical sources at the dawn of the Progressive Era and how they contributed to the development of an American musical voice. The event, co-presented with Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, took place at the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center. As The Leonard Bernstein Scholar-in-Residence, Michael Beckerman will be involved with public outreach and education programs throughout the season and work with the Philharmonic Archives on projects related to Dvořák, contributing further to The New World Initiative.
The Leonard Bernstein Scholar-in-Residence at the New York Philharmonic program honors and recognizes the enduring contribution of Leonard Bernstein, the Orchestra’s Music Director from 1958 to 1969 and subsequent Laureate Conductor. The position was created in the 2005–06 season to coincide with the 15th anniversary of Bernstein’s death, on October 14, 1990.
For more information, click here!
Professor Michael Beckerman, Leonard Bernstein Scholar-in-Residence at the New York Philharmonic, lectures and performs with actors at Lincoln Center Rubenstein Atrium. Photo Credit: New York Philharmonic
- Michael Beckerman Lectures on Dvořák and Martinů
Musicologist and DAHA Vice President Michael Beckerman discusses the music of Dvořák and Martinů in conjunction with a performance by the Pavel Haas Quartet at the Library of Congress, which featured Martinů's String Quartet no. 3, H. 183, and Dvořák's String Quartet in D minor, op. 34 and String Quartet in F major, op. 96 ("American"). Published on June 16, 2016.
For transcript and more information, visit http://www.loc.gov/today/cyberlc/feature_wdesc.php?rec=7272
The House in Prague and the Dvořák Statue in New York
The House in Prague, a new book by Anna Nessy Perlberg, explores her childhood memories of her musically talented mother and her family’s life in Prague, shattered in 1938 by the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia. Featured in the recent Literary Festival: Prague Summer Program at the Bohemian National Hall in New York City, the book is linked to the Dvořák Room and its collection in an intimate way. Nearly ten years ago the Dvořák American Heritage Association received a generous gift of an etching of composer Antonín Dvořák by noted Czech artist and caricaturist Hugo Boettinger (1880-1934). The print bears the artist's dedication to Czech soprano Julia Nessy Bacherová – “excellent interpreter of Dvořák’s songs, April 5, 1932.” The gift to DAHA was made by Anna Nessy Perlberg, in memory of her mother, Mrs. Bacherová, who was one of the group of Czech emigrees who commissioned the bronze statue of Dvořák now in Stuyvesant Square Park, near the former site of Dvořák’s residence in New York, from 1892-95.
The House in Prague by Anna Nessy Perlberg (Emmaus, Pennsylvania: Golden Alley Press, 2016). http://goldenalleypress.com/anna-nessy-perlberg/
In this memoir that reads like a novel, we meet Anna’s shining and beautiful opera singer mother, her prominent lawyer father, and their circle of friends that includes Albert Schweitzer and the family of Czech President Thomas Masaryk.
Born in Prague’s Malá Strana, Julia Nessy Bacherová (1889-1981) dedicated her life to music, graduating from the Prague Conservatory and starting as the youngest violinist in the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. She later performed as harpist in the same orchestra and eventually had a rich career as a concert and opera singer, with Dvořák songs prominent in her repertory. She held the Dvořák etching close to her throughout her life.
When the etching was received and placed next to the plaster cast of the Dvořák Statue in the Dvořák Room, it became evident that the print had served as the inspiration for the sculptor Ivan Meštrović (1883-1962) when creating the statue. Both statue and etching show Dvořák in the act of composing, standing by a piano, right hand on the keyboard, while he looks at a music score. Like long lost friends, the two artworks came together in the Dvořák Room once again, where they are permanently on view, along with a copy of The House in Prague.
By Majda Kallab Whitaker, DAHA
- Michael Beckerman, Carroll and Milton Petrie Professor of Music at New York University and Vice-President of the Dvořák American Heritage Association, was featured in a New York Times article on December 4th, with comments about the New York Philharmonic’s original orchestral parts from the “New World” Symphony. He participated in the program “Insights Immersion: The Many Worlds of Antonín Dvořák” offered as part of the NY Philharmonic’s Dvořák Festival on Sunday, December 7th at the 92nd Street Y in New York City.
The accompanying exhibition, mounted by the Archives of the New York Philharmonic on the Grand Promenade of Avery Fisher Hall, presented two contributions from the Dvořák American Heritage Association: DAHA’s archival treasure, the original contract that brought Antonín Dvořák to America, signed “Antonín Dvořák. Prague 1892,” which is the only existing copy of the contract; and a photograph of the Honorary Membership Certificate awarded to Dr. Antonín Dvořák by the Philharmonic Society (New York Philharmonic) in April, 1894, documented by DAHA in the Czech Republic courtesy of Antonín Dvořák III. The exhibit was on view through the end of January 2015.
- Check out the latest DAHA New York Times coverage, "Dvorak’s ‘New World’ Manuscript to Revisit New York" by Allan Kozinn, November 3, 2014: http://nyti.ms/1ySzM2w
- Read the New York Times article about DAHA's recent exhibition, "The Deal that Brought Dvořák to New York" by Michael Cooper, Saturday; August 24, 2013: http://nyti.ms/1iEcU1h
- See also "Unfinished Dvořák Manuscript To Be Presented in New York," April 3, 2014 in The Strad: http://bit.ly/1mZL2at