The Realization of 19th Century Czech Nationalism: Folk Music Elements in Dvorak’s “Dumky”
Dr. Julia Randel
Much of Antonin Dvorak’s music has historically been associated with Slavic folk music and Czech nationalistic sentiment. The nationalistic fervor of the 19th century drove Dvorak to create memorable and distinctive works representative of his native land. Many of his works feature Bohemian and Moravian folk elements. This research addresses the relationship between Dvorak’s “Dumky” Piano Trio in E minor, Op. 90 and musical folk elements of Dvorak’s native land. Specifically, it examines traits of Bohemian and Moravian folk music, as well as traits of the Ukrainian epic poem song genre called the Duma. The historical backgrounds of these influences shed light on the development of musical form, the selection of subject material, and other general musical characteristics. When analyzing Dvorak’s piano trio, one finds an abundance of characteristics that can be related to the three potential influences previously mentioned. Indeed, the “Dumky” Piano Trio seems to exhibit many musical influences from Dvorak’s homeland, as well as from the Duma. Yet at the same time, Dvorak creates and reinforces a new genre of music, one that has been traditionally associated with the Czech identity: the Dumka. Dvorak’s use of Bohemian and Moravian folk music elements, his evocation of the dramatic subject content of the Duma, and his own musical innovations have propelled the Dumka into its present form.
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