This video is about Antonín Dvořák (1841 – 1904)
Symphony No. 8 in G major
Allegro con brio – Adagio – Allegretto grazioso – Allegro
Antonín Leopold Dvořák was a Czech composer who was born on the 8th of September 1841 in Nelahozeves, near Prague. He played the violin, piano, and organ and began composing his first string quartet in 1862. The first public performances of his works took place in Prague in 1872.
His symphony No. 8 in G major was written in his new country house in Vysoka during 1889, and the symphony reflects some of the happiness he felt during this period in his life. Its more cheerful and optimistic feel is a contrast with most of his other symphonies and it is one of his shorter symphonies. Dvořák himself conducted the piece’s premiere in Prague in February 1890 and also introduced it to London audiences two months later.
Dvořák made six trips to England between 1884 and 1890 and many of his works were influenced by styles popular in England at the time. Symphony No. 8 has the typical four movement format of a symphony but it is structured in an unusual way. The movements all have a variety of themes, many based on Bohemian material. Dvořák’s frequent use of rhythms and other aspects of the folk music of Moravia and his native Bohemia can also be seen in his other works.
Unlike many of Dvořák’s symphonies, this work begins with a short introduction. It then introduces a lyrical G minor theme in the cellos, horns, clarinets and bassoon. The movement then leads to a flute melody in the symphony’s key G major, and then to a second main theme played by the cor anglais, before ending with a coda.
The second movement is slower and is inspired by tranquil landscapes, depicting a summer’s day, interrupted by a thunderstorm. This is similar to Beethoven’s ‘Pastoral’ Symphony. The third movement is a melancholy waltz, and the finale of the symphony is made up of themes and variations which vary in character, some slower and some faster in tempo. Most are in the major mode, but the central one is in the minor. The piece ends with a chromatic coda, where the brass and timpani are heavily featured.