Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904)
Dvořák composed four piano trios, each more famous than its predecessor concluding with his most celebrated final trio known by the nickname “Dumky”. The prior in F minor is a muscular, serious trio drawing comparisons with Brahms, a contemporary and friend only eight years older. Dvořák’s even earlier second Piano Trio in G Minor, Op. 26 is much more rarely programmed, crowded out by its more familiar successors, but it is a very fine piano trio imbued with Dvorak’s vivid musical personality: Color, warmth, lyricism, melancholy, lively dance, Slavic folk elements and artful craft abound. His already masterful skills wielded confidently display a mature composer in fine form.
Yet, as Dvořák began this trio early in 1876, he was a thirty-five-year-old unknown provincial composer. He had just applied to a commission in Vienna that granted funds to struggling artists and caught the attention of two prominent boards members, Eduard Hanslick and Johannes Brahms, both of whom found promising talent in Dvorak’s submissions and awarded him the highest amount allowable. With new funding, an ongoing connection with Brahms and his publisher, and a fresh creative impetus yielding several winning works in short order, within the next year or so, Dvorak would achieve international fame. (more…)