Ten things you might not know about Dvorak
1. At the age of 13 he was inducted into the Butcher's Guild of Zlonice as an apprentice. His father was a butcher and it was assumed he would continue in that trade.
2. Dvorak's grandmother called him, "my little toothy" because of his good teeth.
3. Early in his career, he frequently changed his lodgings because of the ire he aroused by composing at a piano in the middle of the night.
4. Dvorak was the director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York City from 1892 to 1895.
5. He spent a couple of weeks living in Spillville, Iowa, which was at that time mostly inhabited by Czech speaking immigrants. There, he spent time with the Iroquis Indians listening to their music. It was also in Iowa that he wrote the famous "American" String Quartet. Here is a mural that you can find today in Spillville, IA.
6. Dvorak was a deeply spiritual man and often began compositions with the words, "with God," and ended them with "God be thanked."
7. Dvorak liked weightlifting as well as playing Skittles, a form of European lawn bowling.
8. In 1901 he was appointed a member of the Austrian Senate, in part to calm the Czech speakers in Austria who were upset over the banning of their language. Dvorak came the first day, accepted the honor, pocketed all of the pencils provided at his desk declaring them perfect for composing, and never showed up again.
9. In Spillville, the buidling where Dvorak lived is now called the Bily Clocks Museum and Anton Dvorak exhibit. It is a museum devoted to three of Spillville's most famous residents, Clock makers Frank and Josef Bily, and of course Dvorak himself.
10. Two of Dvorak's favorite hobbies were pigeon raising and train watching. In New York he also picked up a love of Steamboats. In the morning the first thing he did was read the shipping reports.
In addition to being a little quirky (aren't we all?), Dvorak was a great composer, and there is no better place to see this than in his Cello Concerto. Our soloist for the concerto is the great Zuill Bailey who is returning to the ISO this week, and I'm sure it will be a performance you won't soon forget. Finally, don't forget that Sound Off starts at 6:30 p.m. on stage where I'll be answering such questions as, "What does this guy have to do with an orchestra concert?"
Hope to see you there!