Series of concerts marks Dvorak centenary

Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra

Throughout the weekend special concerts and events were held to mark the centenary on Saturday of the death of the great Czech composer Antonin Dvorak. Over the weekend all the major Czech orchestras played Dvorak's music in concert halls around the country.

Dvorak's Slavonic Dances along with other works were performed at Prague Castle on Sunday by the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra. This was one of a series of concerts looking at the Slavonic element in Dvorak's work. In the Dvorak marathon, other concerts were dedicated to the national, cosmopolitan, intimate and spiritual qualities of Dvorak's music. And an exhibition presenting Dvorak's spiritual and religious works was opened on Sunday in Prague.

"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."

Daniel Herman, from the Czech Bishops' Conference. Antonin Dvorak is without doubt the best-known Czech composer. The internationally famous violinist and Dvorak's great-grandson, Josef Suk, says it is because Dvorak speaks in an international language.

"Dvorak's music comes from the heart. The audience worldwide can feel it - not only people in this country. When I travelled to various parts of the world, I realised Dvorak was beloved in Japan, China, Argentina, America... Dvorak is understood all over the world because he speaks with pure feeling and the audience understands it."

Antonin Dvorak was perhaps the most cosmopolitan of Czech composers. Jan Simon, director of the Prague Radio Symphony orchestra.

"This is the main reason why Dvorak is so popular worldwide - because of his life experience. He spent many years outside the Czech territory, he spent many years in Great Britain and in America. He was a genius in that sense that he was able to connect Slavonic elements with his cosmopolitan way of thinking and that's why his music is so easily understandable for the audience worldwide."

And Daniel Herman goes still further:

"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."