This edition addresses the fascinating context of AntonínDvořák‘s visit to America, the work he produced there, and the under-recognized musicians, such as Harry Burleigh, from whom he learned much in America.
Dvořák’s famous sojourn in Iowa is captured beautifully in Andrea Ratuski’s excellent CBC documentary Spillville, Then and Now.Produced originally for radio, the MCO has transformed the 30-minute piece into a movie documentary (!). We’re very excited to present it publicly for the first time here. Watch it by clicking the image below:
Winner of ‘the Prix Italia Prize, held in Venice, for Works About Music, this charming piece details the three months Dvořák spent in the small, heavily Czech-populated town of Spillville, Iowa. The patrician Dvořák seems to have made quite an impression on the town’s residents, because over a 100 years later Spillvillians still vividly describe his eccentricities and habits. There is much affection in these stories, and Dvořák likewise came to feel quite tenderly toward this scenic town where he wrote some of his most inspired music. One of those pieces is his ‘American’ string quartet.
The MCO performed this piece outdoors with full strings on a gorgeous summer evening last July at the wonderful FestivaldeLanaudière Joliette near Montreal. We’re excited to today release an excellent video recording of that piece, filmed and generously forwarded to us by the Festival, which you can watch by clicking the thumbnail below:
Spillville reminded the somewhat homesick Dvořák of Bohemia, but his passion about America ran much deeper than that. He was ecstatic about the homegrown and non-European varieties of music he encountered bursting through the cracks of American life despite its cemented repressions. This music had a strong impact on his musical ideas. For a more in-depth exploration of his dialogue with American musicians – in particular the African American composer Harry Burleigh – check out this MCOarticlewhich also contains a Spotify playlist of Burleigh’s music.
Classic 107’s biweekly broadcasts of MCO performances
The MCO is very pleased to work with our good friends at Classic 107 to deliver this initiative: on Sunday afternoons, beginning at 2PM, attend a radio concert broadcast of a classic MCO performance from the archives. Brought to you by The Winnipeg Foundation, we will continue the feature every second Sunday. Though we are not able to gather in person, we are able to gather on the radio airwaves for a physically-distanced concert. The next broadcast concert will be 2PM Sunday, 21 June on 107.1 FM
The MCO gratefully acknowledges support from the following: