Seventh Symphony

Nearly a whole century after Mozart’s masterpiece, celebrated Chech composer ANTONIN DVOŘÁK created his SEVENTH SYMPHONY in D Minor. The symphony was written on the commission of the London Philharmonic Society and the offer accompanied the news that the composer was elected honorary member of the Society of London. He completed the score within only three months, on 17 March 1885, and shared in a letter to a friend his wish that the piece would be „capable of stirring the world, and may God grant that it will!” The composer imagined in his mind the success of his symphony in connection with the revival of Bohemian national culture. As well as the impulse for the main subject of the opening movement: „It flashed into mind on the arrival of the festive train bringing 400 Bohemians and Magyars from Pest to attend performances at the National Theatre. Thousands streamed to the festive welcome and alongside the solemn orations everybody sang the Bohemian hymn and Hey, Slavs’!” Another impulse of inspiration was Brahms’ Third symphony, which made strong impression on the composer. Elated by his friendly support, Dvořák demonstrated in the Seventh interesting ideas in the building of the cycle’s dramaturgy, the intensive symphonic development and the orchestration. In this period, he faced a creative dilemma – whether to continue to write in the easily recognizable national style, which brought him popularity, or to enrich it with the attainments of contemporary European music language? Dvořák embarked on the latter and more challenging course, without losing his identity and the sentiment of his personal experience. Thus, in the Adagio, which brings us to a relatively more tranquil world of beauty, the composer noted on the score: „From the sad years”. He refers to the recent death of his mother, but there is also a broader horizon, revealed in one of his letters: „What is in my mind is Love, God, and my Fatherland” – the three supreme values in his life and creative work! It was only in this movement that Dvořák later made abridgements and wrote to his publisher Simrock: „The adagio has become shorter and more concise and now I am convinced that there is not a single superfluous note in the work!” The Seventh received a remarkable premiere performance on 22 April 1885 at the Saint James Concert Hall in London, to rapturous applause from audiences and undivided critical acclaim.


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