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The United States[edit]

Dvok with his family and friends in New York in 1893. From left: his wife Anna, son Antonn, Sadie Siebert,
Josef Jan Kovak, mother of Sadie Siebert, daughter Otilie, Antonn Dvok
[60]

From 1892 to 1895, Dvok was the director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York
City. He began at a then-staggering $15,000 annual salary.
[61]
Emanuel Rubin
[62]
describes the
Conservatory and Dvoak's time there. The Conservatory had been founded by Jeannette
Thurber, a wealthy and philanthropic woman, who made it open to women students as well as
men and to blacks as well as whites, which was unusual for the times. Dvok's original contract
provided for three hours a day of work, including teaching and conducting, six days a week, with
four months' vacation each summer.
[61]
The `Panic of 1893,' a severe economic depression,
depleted the assets of the Thurber family and other patrons of the Conservatory. In 1894
Dvok's salary was cut to $8000 per year and moreover was paid only irregularly.
[61]
The
Conservatory was located at 126128 East 17th Street,
[63][64]
but was demolished in 1911 and
replaced by what is today a high school.
Dvok's main goal in America was to discover "American Music" and engage in it, much as he
had used Czech folk idioms within his music. Shortly after his arrival in America in 1892, Dvok
wrote a series of newspaper articles reflecting on the state of American music. He supported the
concept that African-American and Native American music should be used as a foundation for the
growth of American music. He felt that through the music of Native Americans and African-
Americans, Americans would find their own national style of music.
[65]
Here Dvok met Harry
Burleigh, his pupil at the time and one of the earliest African-American composers. Burleigh
introduced Dvok to traditional Americanspirituals.
[66]

In the winter and spring of 1893, Dvok was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic to
write Symphony No.9, "From the New World", which was premiered under the baton ofAnton
Seidl, to tumultuous applause. Clapham writes that "without question this was one of the greatest
triumphs, and very possibly the greatest triumph of all that Dvok experienced" in his life, and
when the Symphony was published it was "seized on by conductors and orchestras" all over the
world.
[67]

Dvok spent the summer of 1893 with his family in the Czech-speaking community of Spillville,
Iowa, to which some of his cousins had earlier immigrated. While there he composed the String
Quartet in F (the "American"), and the String Quintet in E-flat, as well as a Sonatina for violin and
piano. He also conducted a performance of his Eighth Symphony at the Columbian Exposition in
Chicago that same year.
In the winter of 1894-1895, Dvok wrote his Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104, B. 191,
completed in February 1895.
[68]
However, his partially unpaid salary,
[61]
together with increasing
recognition in Europe he had been made an honorary member of the Gesellschaft der
Musikfreunde in Vienna and a remarkable amount of homesickness made him decide to return
to Bohemia. He informed Thurber that he was leaving. Dvok and his wife left New York before
the end of the spring term with no intention of returning.
Dvok's New York home was located at 327 East 17th Street, near the intersection of what is
today called Perlman Place.
[69]
It was in this house that both the B minor Cello Concerto and the
New World Symphony were written within a few years. Despite protests, from Czech
President Vclav Havel amongst others, who wanted the house preserved as a historical site, it
was demolished in 1991 to make room for a Beth Israel Medical Center residence for people with
AIDS.
[70][71][72]
To honor Dvok, however, a statue of him was erected in nearby Stuyvesant
Square.
[64]

Brahms continued to try to "clear a path for" Dvok, "the only contemporary whom he considered
really worthy."
[73]
While Dvok was in America, Simrock was still publishing his music in
Germany, and Brahms corrected proofs for him. Dvok said it was hard to understand why
Brahms would "take on the very tedious job of proofreading. I don't believe there is another
musician of his stature in the whole world who would do such a thing."
[73]