In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Antonín Dvořák

  • Introduction
  • Overviews by Authors Who Knew Dvořák Personally
  • Early Life and Works
  • Reference Works
  • Collected Essays
  • Journals
  • Bibliographies
  • Correspondence and Archival Documents
  • Articles and Interviews
  • Dvořák and America
  • Dvořák and Britain
  • Dvořák as Conductor and Performer
  • Editions of the Music
  • Facsimiles
  • Manuscript Sources
  • Iconography
  • Discography
  • Reception
  • Societies and Research Center

Music Antonín Dvořák
David R. Beveridge
  • LAST REVIEWED: 14 October 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 September 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199757824-0098


Antonín Dvořák (1841–1904) was born in rural Bohemia (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) and lived mainly in Prague. But he traveled extensively, and from 1892 to 1895 taught composition in New York where he influenced the development of music in America. Coming from an impoverished family, he had only a primitive education and battled social prejudices against the lower classes. But talent and perseverance eventually won him such renown that Cambridge University awarded him an honorary doctorate, and Emperor Franz Joseph appointed him a member of the Austrian House of Lords. For the last seven years of his life many in German- and English-speaking regions considered him the greatest living composer in the Western world. Prolific and versatile, Dvořák left an extensive bequest in the genres of opera, choral works, symphony and other orchestral works, chamber works, solo songs and duets, and pieces for solo or four-hands piano. No less diverse is his style, ranging from folk-like pieces to works of extreme complexity and emotional depth, including interesting experiments decades in advance of their time. Although Dvořák’s music has been widely performed since the 1870s, its full appreciation has been hindered by misleading preconceptions. One is that he was important mainly for his instrumental music. In performance time his output is divided evenly among works with and without voices, and vocal works played a key role in furthering his career at various stages. Another preconception––one that has affected practically all composers from countries other than Germany, France, and Italy––is that his significance derives from his status as a representative of his nation. Actually his music is highly cosmopolitan, and his few works demonstrably expressing something Czech or Slavic were almost always written to satisfy requests from others. Finally, his music is thought to have required no conscious effort in elaboration, revision, and refinement; anyone who has studied his sketches knows how ludicrous this is, even if the final result often does sound spontaneous. The Dvořák literature is immense. Creating separate citations for the hundreds of important items contained within larger publications would exceed the capacity of this bibliographical article. In annotations for selected journals and collected essays indicated are the topics whose coverage may be expected therein. Citations for individual items in larger fora are usually restricted to those where the fora themselves are not cited; otherwise book-length publications devoted to Dvořák are mainly cited.

General Overviews

This section discusses books and encyclopedia articles providing overall coverage of Dvořák’s life and works. Various circumstances have prevented Dvořák from receiving the thorough and objective treatment accorded to many other composers of his stature, but this situation has begun to change in recent publications. In overall scope and depth nothing begins to approach the four volumes of Šourek 1954–1957 (under Book-Length Overviews 1916–1957), which are available in Czech only and reflect the place and time of their origin in other ways as well. Books in other languages are incomparably more modest, but do offer new findings and points of view, most importantly Clapham 1966, Clapham 1979, and Döge 1997 (all under Book-Length Overviews from 1966 to the Present).

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