Antonín Leopold Dvořák (September 8, 1841 – May 1, 1904) was a Czech composer of Romantic music, who employed the idioms of the folk music of Moravia and his native Bohemia. His works include operas, symphonic, choral and chamber music. His best-known works include his New World Symphony, the Slavonic Dances, “American” String Quartet, and Cello Concerto in B minor.
Dvořák was born on September 8, 1841, in the Bohemian village of Nelahozeves, near Prague (then part of Bohemia in the Austrian Empire, now in the Czech Republic), where he spent most of his life. He was baptized as a Roman Catholic in the church of St. Andrew in the village. Dvořák’s years in Nelahozeves nurtured the strong Christian faith and love for his Bohemian heritage which so strongly influenced his music. His father František Dvořák (1814–1894) was an innkeeper, professional player of the zither, and a butcher. Although his father wanted him to be a butcher as well, Dvořák went on to pursue a future in music. He received his earliest musical education at the village school which he entered in 1847, age 6. From 1857 to 1859 he studied music in Prague’s only organ school, and gradually developed into an accomplished player of the violin and the viola. He wrote his first String Quartet when he was twenty years old, two years after graduating.