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Dvořák: The Chamber Music Survey with Martinů Quartet

  • Bohemian National Hall 321 East 73rd Street New York, NY, 10021 United States (map)
Martinů Quartet: Lubomír Havlák, 1st violin; Libor Kaňka, 2nd violin; Zbyněk Paďourek, viola; Jitka Vlašánková, cello.

Martinů Quartet: Lubomír Havlák, 1st violin; Libor Kaňka, 2nd violin; Zbyněk Paďourek, viola; Jitka Vlašánková, cello.

“Dvořák: the Chamber Music Survey” brings Dvořák’s complete chamber music works to New York audiences at the historic Bohemian National Hall.  The brilliant Martinů Quartet from Prague will perform at the third annual concert in the series in September 2018.  Acclaimed by audiences around the world, they appear regularly at the Prague Spring Festival as well as concerts in many European countries, the United States, Canada and Japan. Formed in 1976 at the Prague Conservatory, the Martinů Quartet (formerly Havlák Quartet) earned prizes at the ARD Munich, Evian, Yehudi Menuhin, and Prague Spring competitions.  DAHA is pleased to be bringing the Martinů Quartet to New York audiences: the musical selections will include Dvořák’s Terzetto in C Major Opus 74; String Quartet No. 12 in F Major Opus 96, the “American”; and String Quartet No. 14 in A-Flat Major Opus 105.

The Martinů Quartet will guide listeners on a transcendental listening journey as DAHA continues to explore the chamber music of Czech master Antonín Dvořák.  A critic for the musical journal The Strad wrote of them : “The Martinů Quartet played...with such extraordinary homogeneity of sound and technical ease that their reading sounded deceptively laid back. ... Here again the Martinů players showed their gift for finding the emotional heart of a piece. This was an exquisitely crafted and profoundly moving performance.”


The Terzetto, or trio for two violins and viola in C major, Opus 74 is a charming miniature in which Czech composer Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) looks back at the Classical Style of Haydn and Mozart. The Neo-Classical writing is deftly synthesized with melodies and rhythms from the Bohemian Folklore. This Terzetto, like much of Dvořák’s work, is a record of the thoughts and impressions that came to Dvořák when walking in nature.  He composed the piece in 1887 for close friends, but when it proved to be too difficult for them, the prolific composer immediately wrote another quartet!

The String Quartet in F major Opus 96, the "American" Quartet, is one of the best-known pieces in the entire Standard Repertoire of Classical Music.  It was composed by Dvořák during his epoch-making, three-year sojourn in the United States. This composition came to life in a period of great joy and inspiration, experienced during a visit to the Czech-American village of Spillville, Iowa, in the summer of 1893. The melodies have a distinct American flavor, reminiscent of both Native American chants and African American melodies. In the third movement, you hear the delightful bird song of the Scarlet Tanager from the midwestern region. In this work Dvořák largely avoids the rich, late-Romantic style then current in Europe.

The String Quartet in A flat major Opus 105 comes late in Dvořák’s creative life. By the time he wrote this, he had risen from poverty and obscurity to the status of an international celebrity.  Dvořák had already proven himself. In this work, the master gives us a glimpse of the excitement, the passion and the sheer joy of Bohemian folklore; and all this within the framework of a large, late-Romantic String Quartet. The youthful enthusiasm of his previous music has now given way to a more philosophical view of life.

Though chronologically the last of Dvořák's chamber works, the opus 105 is numbered second to last.  Composed in 1895 (begun in New York and completed in Bohemia), it represents a culminating statement in Dvořák's chamber music output, "an affirmation of life from the standpoint of one who sees and knows, and an expression of thanks for all its material and immaterial beauty," in the words of Dvořák specialist Jarmil Burghauser.

General Admission to be paid at the door: $30; Seniors, Students, Czech Center Club Members $20.

Supported by Bohemian Benevolent & Literary Association.


Photo Credit: Petra Hajska

Photo Credit: Petra Hajska