The Antonín Dvořák Society (ADS) was founded in Prague on 29 March 1931, originally as the ‘Society for Erection of a Monument to Master Antonín Dvořák in Prague’. After years of unsuccessful efforts to adorn the city with a Dvořák monument, in 1944 the organization was renamed as simply the ‘Antonín Dvořák Society’. In 2000, at last, Jan Wagner produced a larger-than-life statue of the composer based on a model by his father Josef Wagner, on the occasion of the project ‘Prague: A European City of Culture’, in collaboration with the ADS, the City of Prague, and other co-organizers and sponsors. The statue was erected in front of Prague’s Rudolfinum—home of the Czech Philharmonic whose inaugural concert in 1896 was conducted by Dvořák, and also his place of work as a professor at and then director of the Prague Conservatoire.
One of the two most important accomplishments of the ADS has been establishment of the Antonín Dvořák Museum on 20 June 1932, not long after the Society itself was founded. At that time the gates were opened to Michna’s Baroque summer palace in Prague’s New Town, which houses the museum to this day, and the first collection of memorabilia pertaining to the famous composer was presented, assembled by members of the Society in collaboration with Dvořák’s family. Later, in 1951, the Society shared in founding the Antonín Dvořák Memorial in Nelahozeves, in the house where the composer was born.
Another major achievement of the ADS was its establishment in 1954 of an editorial commission for a Collected Edition of the Works of Antonín Dvořák. This commission functioned until the end of the 1990s and succeeded in publishing most of the composer’s works. Its members over the course of time included Otakar Šourek (author of the monumental four-volume monograph on Dvořák’s life and work, who chaired the commission), Antonín Čubr, František Bartoš, Jiří Berkovec, Jarmil Burghauser (author of the thematic catalogue of Dvořák’s works), Jan Hanuš, Ladislav Láska, Antonín Pokorný, Karel Šolc, and Miroslav Nový.
The Society was established at the instigation of the composer’s devoted aide during the time of his sojourn in America, the Czech-American violinist and later violist Josef Jan Kovařík. Among its founding members were the players in the Czech Quartet at that time—violinist Karel Hoffmann, violinist and composer Josef Suk (Dvořák’s pupil and son-in-law), violist Jiří Herold, and cellist Ladislav Zelenka—as well as composers Vítězslav Novák and Rudolf Karel (also pupils of Dvořák) and other admirers such as the above-mentioned Otakar Šourek, pianists Karel Hoffmeister and Roman Veselý, and painter and caricaturist Hugo Boettinger. Those who have actively shared in cultivating Dvořák’s legacy through the Society have included above all its Chairs, namely Maxmilián Leiser, Richard Stretti, Josef Suk (the composer), Dalibor C. Vačkář, Jarmil Burghauser, Radoslav Kvapil, Radomil Eliška, and currently Markéta Hallová (for many years a Vice President of the Dvořák Society in Great Britain, formerly director of the Dvořák Museum). In 1997 the Society named its first Honorary Chair, Jan Hanuš, composer and long-time member of the commission for editing Dvořák’s works. Then came Dvořák’s great grandson, violinist Josef Suk (grandson of the composer Josef Suk), and then the conductor Jiří Bělohlávek, at that time already President of the Dvořák Society of Great Britain, after whose untimely death Radomil Eliška was elected Honorary Chair in 2018.Dvořák Museum). In 1997 the Society named its first Honorary Chair, Jan Hanuš, composer and long-time member of the commission for editing Dvořák’s works. Then came Dvořák’s great grandson, violinist Josef Suk (grandson of the composer Josef Suk), and then the conductor Jiří Bělohlávek, at that time already President of the Dvořák Society of Great Britain, after whose untimely death Radomil Eliška was elected Honorary Chair in 2018.
Others who have worked selflessly for the Society for many years have included especially its executive agents Jan Miroslav Květ, Otakar Šourek, Karel Mikysa, Eva Šebková, and Jitka Suková, Vice Chairs Jindřich Jaroš, Václav Tvrzník, Milan Pospíšil, Jarmila Tauerová (former director of the Dvořák Museum), as well as Marie Březnovská-Mikysová and František Pišinger (founding member of the Dvořák Quartet), and in recent years American musicologist David R. Beveridge, a Dvořák researcher living permanently in Czechia.
Since 15 September 1991 the ADS has been an independent association with full legal status: it regained its legal sovereignty, lost during the socialist era when in 1956 the Dvořák Museum it had founded was nationalized and when it was forced to hand over its original and subsequently-acquired collections to the state—a condition for it being allowed to continue in its activities, later under an umbrella organization which at the time was the Czech Music Society.
Today the Antonín Dvořák Society has ca. 200 members, including laypersons who admire Dvořák as well as outstanding performers, composers, musicologists, musical journalists, and organizers.
Primarily in collaboration with the Antonín Dvořák Museum, the Society is continuing to promote and protect the legacy of Dvořák both at home and abroad. It organizes concerts, discussion sessions, and excursions. For example it established an annual commemorative concert and ceremony at the grave of the composer Josef Suk in his native village of Křečovice, now one of the events of the Prague Spring International Music Festival, with support from Dvořák’s great grandson, the violinist Josef Suk, and after his death from his widow Marie Suková. It also shares in organizing a commemorative event at Dvořák’s tomb at Vyšehrad on or shortly before 1 May every fifth year after his death that day in 1904 (thus e.g. in 2014 and 2019), and each year around his birthday on 8 September a morning lecture and concert in the house where he was born in Nelahozeves. For many years the ADS has cooperated with the Dvořák Society for Czech and Slovak Music in Great Britain, under successive Chairs Graham Melville-Mason, Annette Percy, and currently (since the spring of 2019) David Roberts. It also collaborates with the Dvořák American Heritage Association in New York, led by Susan Lucak, building on the legacy of the Czech-American architect Hird Pokorný.te Percy, and currently (since the spring of 2019) David Roberts. It also collaborates with the Dvořák American Heritage Association in New York, led by Susan Lucak, building on the legacy of the Czech-American architect Hird Pokorný.
The renown of the ADS abroad was enhanced especially by the Dvořák scholar, musicologist, composer, and choirmaster Jarmil Burghauser (1921-97), who continued the work of Otakar Šourek, preparing the Antonín Dvořák Thematic Catalogue (1960, 2nd edition 1996), and initiating a new wave of interest in musicological evaluation of Dvořák’s works both at home and abroad, reflected in scholarly conferences held in the 1980s by the ADS as part of the Czech Music Society, culminating in an international congress devoted to Dvořák in Dobříš in 1991, and who thus contributed to a series of international Dvořák conferences held in the USA, France, Germany, and elsewhere.
The Society has shared in placing memorial plaques commemorating Dvořák’s stays at the stately homes of Sychrov and Lužany and in Karlovy Vary (Karlsbad) , as well as other locations including of course Prague, e.g. at the Rudolfinum. It has also preserved the memory of Dvořák’s pupils, especially Josef Suk, Vítězslav Novák, Oskar Nedbal, Julius Fučík, and Rudolf Karel. The Society contributed in various ways to celebrations in 2004 of the centenary of Dvořák’s death, which UNESCO included in its list of anniversaries of worldwide significance, on which occasion the ADS contributed to the mounting of a memorial plaque on the Church of St. Adalbert (svatý Vojtěch) in Prague to commemorate Dvořák’s service as organist there. The Society was also responsible for designation of the building where Dvořák lived and composed in Prague for many years, and where he died, at Žitná ulice 14 (formerly 10), as a cultural memorial. Recently, in 2019, the Society had an artistic plaque of stone, designed and produced by Petr Váňa, mounted on the building in Nelahozeves where the composer was born.
The Society accepts new members continuously, after they have filled out an application form and payed the minimum annual member’s contribution of 150 Czech crowns. The application form and the Bylaws of the ADS are available on the Society’s website (at www.dvorakantonin.com).
The Society arranges discounted tickets for its members to some concerts, e.g. concerts of the Dvořák Prague Festival and of the Czech Chamber Music Society, to theatrical presentations, lectures (especially those held in the Dvořák Museum), and tours (e.g. of the Rudolfinum in Prague). It regularly informs its members about interesting events related to Dvořák, primarily via e-mail. Publications issued by the ADS are provided to its members at a discount or even free of charge. Of the Society’s excursions let us mention especially that held in 2019 to the stately home in Maleč, home of Marie Červinková-Riegrová, librettist of Dvořák’s operas Dimitrij and Jakobín, granddaughter of František Palacký and daughter of František Ladislav Rieger. This stately home is now owned by Václav Macháček-Rieger; he and his wife devoted kind attention to the Society’s members during the visit.
For many years the ADS has awarded a prize for the best interpretation of a Dvořák song in the Antonín Dvořák International Singing Competition in Karlovy Vary (which it helped to found, originally as a national competition). It has also given prizes to young composers in a Czech-Korean event, the International Antonín Dvořák Composition Competition, and recently to a selected participant in the Oskar Nedbal International Viola Competition held in Prague in 2019 and 2020.
A new project of ADS member Slávka Pěchočová-Vernerová for 2021, celebrating the 180th anniversary of Dvořák’s birth, is a competition of young pianists. For more information see the competition’s website (www.antonindvorakmladym.cz).
Chairs of the Antonín Dvořák Society (in chronological order):
Partial list of honorary members:
For further information (in Czech only) see the entry ‘Společnost Antonína Dvořáka’ by Markéta Hallová in the online Český hudební slovník osob a institucí (Czech Musical Dictionary of Persons and Institutions), a portal of the Centre for Music Lexicography of the Institute of Musicology at Masaryk University in Brno (www.ceskyhudebnislovnik.cz/slovnik/)
Zprávu elektronické pošty s dotazy nebo komentářem k tomuto webovému serveru zašlete na adresu