Antonín Dvořák – Symphony 1, The Bells of Zlonice, Op. 3 (1865)

Zlonice, Czech Republic

Zlonice, Czech Republic

The first five of Dvořák’s nine symphonies are early works. They are winsome. The first, fourth, and fifth are underrated.

The first symphony was written in 1865, when Dvořák was 23, but not published or performed till 1961. It is subtitled The Bell of Zlonice. Zlonice is a small town in the northwest of what is now the Czech Republic, then Bohemia. Dvořák was an apprentice butcher there between the ages of 12 to 16. The symphony has a first movement whose music, especially its first theme, imprints itself on the ear of memory, and does not let go.

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