The best known of all Czech composers and one whose enduring popularity earns him a place in the top rank of classical composers. The son of a butcher, he started out as an orchestral viola player. After Brahms recommended his music for publication he turned full-time to composing in a wide range of forms but most successfully for the orchestra and for chamber music. Of his nine symphonies the most famous, From the New World was written during his time as Director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York. His American Quartet also dates from this time. However, it was his love of his homeland that inspired the fresh, captivating and generally optimistic quality of his music as seen, for example, in his Cello Concerto and in the opera Rusalka.
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