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Classical Notes

Fishin' music

Posted at 8:10 PM on May 29, 2006 by John Zech
Filed under: The blog

The past few days a lot of people have tried to cool off in or near some body of water.

When Antonin Dvorak visited the Czech community of Spillville, Iowa in the summer of 1893, he cooled off near the Turkey River, where he liked to walk and listen to the birds. He said they helped him come up with musical ideas — ideas he would scribble in pencil on his stiff white shirt cuffs. In fact, Dvorak’s son, Otakar, who was eight years old at the time, reported that a fishing trip along the Turkey River was cut short, much to his annoyance when Daddy Dvorak said simply: “My cuff is already full of notes — I’ve got to get home and copy them down.”

In less than a week Dvorák finished what would become one of his best-known and best-loved works — a string quartet in F Major nick-named the “American” Quartet. The quartet’s Scherzo movement even includes a musical quotation from a particularly persistent American bird whose song Dvorák found a bit distracting.

Dvorak's "American" quartet, along with Borodin's lush and lyrical String Quartet #2 will be the featured works on a concert by members of the Chamber Music Society of Minnesota Tuesday night (May 30). It starts at 7:30pm at the Convent of the Visitation School in Mendota Heights.

This is a free concert, although a free-will offering will be taken to benefit both organizations. I'll be hosting the program. Hope to see you there.