Quartet No. 12 in F Major, Op. 96 (“American”)
Composed by Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904)
for Flute, Violin, Viola, and Cello
Arranged and Edited by Stepahnie Jutt/Paganini Quartet)
Published by International Music Co.
For most flutists, our exposure to the music of the Bohemian Czech composer Antonin Leopold Dvorak consists of his orchestral works, including the popular symphonies (there are nine!), the Slavonic Dances, and his beloved opera, Rusalka. Flutists traveling further afield may have heard his chamber music, including the American String Quartet, arranged here for flute, violin, viola, and cello.
I first performed and recorded this thrilling work in an arrangement for wind quintet, and thought to myself, “I think this will work for flute and strings!” And indeed it does.
Dvorak traveled from Bohemia to the United States in 1883 to become the director of the new National Conservatory of Music in New York. With his family, he traveled west and spent time in the vibrant Czech community in Spillville, Iowa, which retains its Czech roots to this day. Dvorak began the American Quartet in a burst of inspiration only three days after he arrived in Spillville in June of 1893, and finished it before the end of the month.
The American Quartet remains the most frequently performed of all of Dvorak’s chamber music, and in it, he sets out to capture his impression of the spirit of American music. Although Dvorak never directly quotes an American tune or composition, his unmistakable ear for melody and harmonic approach reflect his exposure to American music, including that of Native American and African American traditions. In addtion to its irresistible melodies, the American Quartet presents a bird’s-eye view into the experience of the great Bohemian composer traveling to America for the first time.