Antonín Dvořák and the lost symphony

Antonín Dvořák

Antonín Dvořák was born 180 years ago, on September 8, 1841, in Nelahozeves north of Prague and his music is still performed around the world to this day.

Dvořák composed his first four-movement symphony at the beginning of 1865. However, he did not live to see its premiere.

Zlonice | Photo: Martina Schneibergová,  Radio Prague International

The symphony, known as the The Bells of Zlonice, was first performed on October 4, 1936 in Brno, 32 years after his death. It is said that Dvořák wrote it for a composing competition in Saxony, sending it there but never seeing it again.

For his entire life the composer believed the piece to be lost. However, many years later it was found in the estate of a certain professor at Charles University.

He had bought it as a student in Leipzig but never mentioned this rare manuscript. So it was not until 1920, when the original work was passed down to his son, that the authenticity of the symphony was clearly proven.

Dvořák's first symphony was later played several times, but the first complete recording was not made until 1966 by the London Symphony Orchestra.