The Dvorak Project

by Steve Staruch, Minnesota Public Radio
October 13, 2011

St. Paul, Minn. — What does it mean for a composer like Dvorak, steeped in 19th century romanticism to come face to face with the modern world? What does it mean for a European to be in America in 1893 as the US was celebrating the 400th anniversary of Columbus's voyage? These questions intrigued playwright Rachel Perlmeter. Her new theater piece, The Dvorak Project, will premiere Saturday, October 15. One of Dvorak's goals in the summer of 1893 was the creation of an opera based on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's 1855 epic poem The Song of Hiawatha. The project came to nothing as the composer discovered he was standing on the cusp of a whole new world.

Perlmeter calls The Dvorak Project, which features a score by J. Anthony Allen, a radio play for a theater audience. It is a non-narrative exploration of the summer of 1893 when Dvorak saw Minnehaha Falls, famously sketching the theme for his Violin Sonatina on his shirt sleeve, was honored at a banquet at the Czech Sokol in St Paul and shared a beer with Nikola Tesla at the World's Fair in Chicago. Steve Staruch spoke with the playwright.

(There is more information about The Dvorak Project here.)

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