Qwiz5 Quizbowl Essentials - Antonin Dvorak

Antonin Dvorak was a 19th century Czech Romantic composer. Although he was prolific and wrote hundreds of compositions throughout his career, his best known works are Slavonic Dances and From the New World.

By analyzing questions, you can see patterns emerge, patterns that will help you answer questions. Qwiz5 is all about those patterns. In each installment of Qwiz5, we take an answer line and look at five of its most common clues. Here we explore five clues that will help you answer a tossup on Antonin Dvorak.


CZECH

While you will occasionally see questions about Bedrich Smetana (The Bartered Bride, Ma Vlast and The Moldau), Antonin Dvorak is by far the most asked about Czech (or Bohemian) composer.


SLAVONIC DANCES

Dvorak was inspired by the Hungarian Dances of Johannes Brahms to write this work that celebrates the folk songs of his home country. The piece features versions of the furiant, polka and dumka, all popular folk dances.


RUSALKA

Rusalka is the best-known Dvorak opera. Dvorak was heavily influenced by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid in writing Rusalka. The opera tells of the title water nymph who gives up her immortality to become human and and marry a prince. It is well known for its aria Song to the Moon.


FROM THE NEW WORLD

By far, the best known and most asked about Dvorak work is his Symphony #9: From the New World. It was inspired by Dvorak’s travels to Spillville, Iowa, and features musical allusions to African-American spirituals and Native American traditional music. Specific references are made to the Longfellow poem Song of Hiawatha and the spiritual Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.


OTHER WORKS

While Dvorak is best known for Slavonic Dances, Rusalka, and From the New World, he has a few other works that regularly appear in tossups. These include Cello Concerto in B Minor, the Dumky Trio, the Bells of Zlonice, and The Water Goblin.


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Quizbowl is about learning, not rote memorization, so we encourage you to use this as a springboard for further reading rather than as an endpoint. Here are a few things to check out:


* Want to jam to some Dvorak? Check out his work on Spotify.


* Read more about the opera Rusalka and the story behind its composition here.


* What was the America that Dvorak wrote about in 1892? Read more here or listen to the story on NPR below:

* Finally, watch a great performance of From the New World here:

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