Antonin Dvorak: A Composer´s Life in Pictures

Antonin Dvorak

The Czech Republic is not the only place in the world where you can get a sense of Czech culture. Czech Centers exist all around the world, and the one in New York has recently opened an exhibit dedicated to the famous Czech composer Antonin Dvorak. Born in modest circumstances in the central Bohemian town of Nelahozeves in 1841, the composer remains an iconic figure in classical music today. His influence in North America began in 1892 when he accepted the post of director of the newly established National Conservatory of Music in New York City. Last Friday saw the opening of the exhibition, which is entitled "A Composer's Life in Pictures". The event was accompanied by the screening of a film about the composer. Kay Grigar spoke with Irena Kovarova, the acting director of the Czech Center New York, who comments on the concept behind this exhibit.

"I didn't want the exhibition to be just a lot of text, therefore the focus in the show is given in the visual form: photographs, important documents from Dvorak's life, advertising of the time, clips from his notes and of course photographs of his family and the important people in his life like Mr. Brahms or some of his student's in New York."

The exhibit and screening at the Czech Center New York opened last week on Friday the 13th. I hope you didn't have any bad luck at the vernisage, how has the response been to the exhibit thus far?

"We were very satisfied with the opening and the screening. We had a very nice audience with a lot of people that we haven't seen before and they very much appreciated not only seeing the informative film by Martin Suchanek but also a chance to meet with Radoslav Kvapil and talk about the possibility of getting involved with the International Antonin Dvorak Society. We also met the founders of the Dvorak American Heritage Association, the people who tried to save the building that Mr. Dvorak lived in while he was living in New York."

The location of the center is on Madison Avenue could you tell me a little bit about the area of the facility itself?

"We are in quite a well-to-do area. It's a very good address just a block away from the Metropolitan Museum and also very close to Central Park, which is an important marker in the city of New York. Basically we are in the area that people go to for culture. We are very close to what is called the 'museum mile', which has one museum after another including the world famous Guggenheim museum. But the Czech Center works in such a way that we are not only confined to our space and we cooperate with the facilities that are around us. In fact our center is quite small."

If you happen to be in New York and are curious about the legendary Czech composer, the Antonin Dvorak exhibit is on view through March 31st. For more information you can also take a look at the Czech Center New York website at: