How sad that it does not seem to say anything about the music and even
less about Dvorak 6 which, in most parts of the world, is hardly a
repertoire piece. I do not think it would encourage me to go out and
If that is what the critic thought, so be it. I do not want to be
unkind to the critic for I was not at the performance but this is a
wonderful symphony, right up there (in my opinion) with 7, 8 and 9.
It was commissioned by Richter and Dvorak (I think) threw himself into
this work. Sadly, of course Richter's orchestra did not want to do
Dvorak, I think, thought he was on the edge of "making it" to a wider
audience at that time. I have played this score many times, always
with great reward.
Moving moments for me are where Dvorak uses a theme better known in Ma
Vlast. Is that coincidence, I wonder, or is it someone saying a thank
you to the man who gave him his first chance in an orchestra? (albeit
the humble viola in Smetana's little band).
I do not think it a coincidence and that might have been something
really interesting for the critic to discuss.
If you look at Dvorak's correspondence he thought this commission a
turning point in his life and was disappointed and put out when it
turned out not to be so. Dvorak was a sensitive soul and was very
hurt by the rejection of Richter's orchestra.
I have always believed that Dvorak "wrote in" Smetana in Symphony 6
quite deliberately. I believe that is the sort of person he was.
Then he goes off to do his own, personal and substantial thing but
(briefly) leaves it running in the bass before he does so.
Ancerl was a wonderful person to do Dvorak 6 with. He used to fly
like the wind in the Furiant (a real hang on in there job) and even in
separate string section rehearsals insisted upon the timpanist being
present as well. "This is a Bass symphony" he said and so, I think,
I think Dvorak Symphony 6 a masterpiece and I am sorry that the critic
seems to have missed what I think are some of the wonderful subtleties
of this work.
In truth, I suppose all of it is just a matter of opinion and my
opinion is not that of that particular critic.
Alan M. Watkins
Alan M. Watkins