Antonin Dvorak centenary commemorated at Vysehrad cemetery

Antonin Dvorak

Aptly enough, the 1st May is not only E-day but also the day that we remember a great Czech European. Antonin Dvorak - probably the most famous Czech in history - died exactly a hundred years ago. Special concerts and other events are being held around the country to honour the centenary. Radio Prague's Pavla Horakova went to the event to mark the beginning of celebrations.

Antonin Dvorak
Prague's Vysehrad cemetery is the final resting place of many great Czechs, from heroes of the Czech National Revival, to artists and figures from the world of science and politics. On the eve of the Dvorak centenary, members of the composer's family along with the Czech classical music celebrities and dignitaries of the Catholic Church gathered at Antonin Dvorak's grave to pay their tributes.

Conducter Jiri Belohlavek, one of the leading personalities in Czech music, expresses his affection for the music of Antonin Dvorak - whose tones filled the air around the tomb of the great master of Czech classical music.

Dvorak was a deeply religious man, which reflects in a number of his spiritual works. In his honour the Archbishop of Prague, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk celebrated a mass at Vysehrad. The Bishops' Conference spokesman Daniel Herman speaks of the spiritual significance of Antonin Dvorak's music for the Czech nation.

"Antonin Dvorak is really a great composer and his music was also an expression of his spiritual deepness. I think it is possible to feel that it is practically a prayer in many of his music opuses and for the church it is a logical thing that we celebrate the 100th anniversary of his death here in Vysehrad cemetery because Vysehrad is something like a pilgrimage place for the Czech nation."

Daniel Herman says the legacy of Dvorak's life and work is greater than just the beauty of his music.

"I think that his message is greater. It's something like the message of the Czech heart. His music is still alive and flourishing around the world, also in the United States, for example. I think that through Dvorak goes a link between the heart, the very heart of Europe and the United States. And I think that also this one could be something like a message from the very heart of Europe to the whole world."