Featured piece : Dvorak Cello Concerto in b minor – listen to the first movement ( till 16’33”) and comment below .

The Dvorak Cello Concerto is performed on this video by the world’s most renowned cellist of the 20th century Mstislav Rostropovich . He was known to his friends as “Slava”(second part of his first name and Russian for “glory”).

This is the greatest of all cello concertos. It was composed by Anthony Dvorak , Czech composer of Romantic period born in Bohemia / September 8, 1841; d. Prague, Bohemia / May 1, 1904. The Concerto was composed during Dvorak’s three-year term as Director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York. At the time the composer was homesick for his beloved country which you can definitely hear in this piece.

Master Class with “Slava”on the Dvorak Concerto

6 thoughts on “Featured piece : Dvorak Cello Concerto in b minor – listen to the first movement ( till 16’33”) and comment below .”

  1. The grandiose opening with brass reminds me of a fanfare, which conveys Dvorak’s pride in his home country. The 1st movement is built heavily upon that one motif which is repeated in many different ways and in many different instruments. It’s always changed slightly to keep the listener’s interest, such as when it’s slowed down to half the original note lengths. The solo cello sections remind me of a rich green countryside. Overall, the energy of the piece is proud and triumphant. I think the idea of nostalgia and homesickness isn’t introduced until the quiet section before the final return to the motif. That’s when minor really becomes prevalent.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very nice observations. I like the comparison of the beginning to “the Grandiose Fanfare” That is definitely the character intended for this opening .


  2. What really stuck out for me is how Rostropovich conveyed the overall feeling of homesickness with the way he played. His cello sounds like it’s alternating between complaining about being in a big, stinky, noisy city like 19th century NY and telling you how wonderful home is and how great things are back home. It reinforces what he taught in his masterclass about expressing music for the public, which I think of as painting pictures with the way you play your instrument so that the audience can see what you’re communicating with the music. When it comes to playing music written by others, I think it’s important to do some research on the composer and the era in which they lived so that you can help the audience get to know the composer and the composer’s piece better with the way you play it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for bringing your perspective on this piece ! To your point about knowing of the composer and the piece before playing it I can’t agree more. It is very important. That goes the same for the audience and that is why before concerts and recitals it is a common practice to have a pre concert lectures to educate the audience about the pieces they are about to hear.


  3. A few observations I had when watching both videos were: considering the context provided in this post where “[Dvorak] was homesick for his beloved country,” his cello concerto had lots of emotion expressed throughout the entire piece and Rostropovich brought this out through actions such as lifting the bow before playing certain phrases, quick sets of double stops, and multiple octaves going into the cello’s higher range of sound. He also pays careful attention to details in this piece as he performs it, such as in the very first note of the first movement, as he pays attention to how it’s expressed when “for the public” versus “for oneself.” Additionally, it was my first time hearing someone differentiate the composer and musician by using the idea of who is “on the stage,” which was a very interesting point Rostropovich made during his masterclass and as a musician, I think it is helpful to consider that when performing someone else’s piece.

    Liked by 1 person

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