“Bohemia ruled the World’s Columbian Exposition yesterday. It was the special date set apart for that nationality, and its citizens invaded the White City at every entrance by the thousands,” wrote the reviewer in the Chicago Daily Tribune.
On August 12, 1893, 8,000 people packed into the fair’s Festival Hall to hear the Exposition Orchestra—the Chicago Orchestra expanded to 114 players—under the batons of Vojtěch I. Hlaváč, professor of music at the Imperial University in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and the director of New York’s National Conservatory of Music in America, Antonín Dvořák.
The Tribune reviewer continued: “As Dvořák walked out upon the stage a storm of applause greeted him. For nearly two minutes the old composer [age fifty-one!] stood beside the music rack, baton in hand, bowing his acknowledgements. The players dropped their instruments to join in the welcome. Symphony no. 4 in G major [now known as no. 8], considered a severe test of technical writing as well as playing, was interpreted brilliantly. The Orchestra caught the spirit and magnetism of the distinguished leader. The audience sat as if spell-bound. Tremendous outbursts of applause were given.” On the second half of the program, Dvořák conducted selections from his Slavonic Dances and closed the program with his overture My Country.
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