Berkshire Choral International

The Program

August 4-11, 2019
Concert: August 10
Antonin Dvořák: Stabat Mater (Latin)
Conductor: Heinz Ferlesch

Žofín Palace

 

The original Stabat Mater hymn, a depiction of the grieving Mother of Christ watching her beloved son being crucified, was written in the 13th century by Franciscan monk Jacopone di Toda. Antonin Dvořák’s Stabat Mater may have been inspired by the deaths of three of his children. He began the work in the early spring of 1876, finished the orchestral version in November 1877 and it premiered in Prague in 1880. Each of the 10 parts has its own thematic base, but in the last movement, Dvořák echoes the first to tie it all together. However, the last movement,  “Quando corpus morietur,” differs from the first by introducing acceptance, healing, and hope.

Antonín Leopold Dvořák (1841 - 1904) was the second Czech composer to gain international recognition. Following the movement to enhance Czech culture, he used themes from Moravian and Bohemian folk music. Dvořák began his public musical career in 1872 and was fortunate to gain the admiration of Johannes Brahms. After winning the 1874 Austrian State Prize for Composition, his reputation grew. He was invited to conduct his work in London several times, performed in Russia and moved to the US in 1892 to become director of the National Conservatory of Music of America in New York City. He would write the Symphony of the New World here before homesickness led him back to Bohemia.

Dvořák was familiar with Žofín Palace, where the Saturday night performance will be held. The building was the first made of brick, in 1835, on what is now Slavonic Island. It was named for the mother of Emperor Franz Joseph I, Princess Sophie (or Žofíe in Czech). After the city of Prague bought the island in1884, the building was converted into a neorenaissance palace and it has become a major cultural and social center. Today it hosts both classical and popular music concerts, the Žofín Forums, international conferences, and balls. There are both large and small halls/ballrooms, terraces, and an orangery.