The composer loved North America, Indigenous Music, Trains, and … Iowa

For the sixth episode of Backstage Podcast, join us as we explore the musical and cultural repercussions of Antonin Dvorak and his visit to the United States.

Mrs. Jeannette Thurber, the founder of the National Conservatory of Music of America, was determined to bring the influential Czech composer to New York–she succeeded by offering him unprecedented influence and a huge paycheck.

Dvorak sailed into Hoboken in 1892. In his wake came musical change, cultural reconsideration, and a group of very disgruntled American composers.

We also invite you to read our guest article on the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society’s website.

Antonin Dvorak & His Influence on America: Podcast Transcript

Antonin Dvorak.

What do you think of when you hear that name?

Do you think of a great European composer who generously spent time in the United States to help us poor ignorant Americans find our own musical mojo?

Or do you find the Dvorak American excursion a little bit patronizing? In other words, maybe you feel like we were going to be just fine without someone coming in and telling us how to run our own show.

Gotta admit, we erred towards the latter side.

Sure, Dvorak was a wonderful composer and all, but for crying out loud, I’m not going to go to some other country and tell them what their “National Music” should sound like.

I know, I know, going to another country and telling them what to do sounds exactly like something America would do, doesn’t it. Touche. I also kind of sound like a grumpy old man sitting on his front porch shouting at clouds.

But that’s beside the point.

What I’m getting at is that I used to resent Dvorak in a way, and I felt that it was unfair to 19th century American composers that we all look at the New World Symphony as the predecessor to authentic North American classical music. It’s almost as if people think that Aaron Copland wouldn’t have ever come up with anything good without Dvorak or something.

It’s almost as if without Dvorak, we wouldn’t have baseball, apple pie, bald eagles, or Mark Wahlberg.

I’m basically saying that I used to think our musical scene would have been just fine without this Czech guy ever showing up and telling us how to compose.

Maybe a little bit of my original sentiment still remains. But a closer look at Dvorak, his life, and the state of American culture at the time warranted a change of heart on our side.

If you are already in that first crowd that thinks Dvorak founded American classical music, we’ll show you some things between this episode and the next that will probably change your mind.

And if you fall into the latter category like us, well, we found a lot of holes in our thinking too.

This is Backstage Podcast.

Hello and welcome to this week’s Backstage Podcast: where we tell you true stories about music and its musicians. My name is Justen Blackstone. After the previous episode, which was quite heavy in its subject matter, we promised a lighter look at music history. We’re glad you’ve joined us for part 1 of our 2-part series on Dvorak. Between the two, we’ll cover his two most important works written on our side of the pond, the cultural ramifications, and his lasting legacy on American music.

Here we go!

Antonin Dvorak Biography: Humble Beginnings

It’s easy to resent someone’s public actions when you don’t know them personally. You can also misinterpret people’s intentions that way. I mean, just look at American political life right now.

We thought that by getting to know Dvorak on a personal level–at least as well as you can get to know a guy who’s been dead since 1904–we could maybe come to appreciate his impact on American music a little bit more. Here’s a quick overview of his life, with plenty of his own words, up until his departure for North America.

Dvorak grew up in a quaint little village called Nelahozeves, in the shadow of Prince Lobkowitz’s castle. The church where he played his first violin solo rested nearby, and young Antonin would accompany his father to the market to purchase livestock. He was the eldest of nine children.

This sounds like it was set further in the past than the 1840s, doesn’t it?

Here’s a brief passage from Vaclav Novotny’s memoir on Dvorak. In the words of the great composer himself,

“That was the happier side of my youth, the brighter moments, but even the darker side was not uninteresting though it cost me many a tear. Look there! These are the places I used to visit with my father to buy all kinds of cattle-beasts, and when my father entrusted me with one or other member of the brute creation, it would often out of sheer exuberance give me the slip, or without further ado drag me to the nearest pond, so that my situation was not exactly enviable. But all the calamities and trials of my young life were sweetened by music, my guardian angel.”

Dvorak’s upbringing was humble. He was expected to learn the family trade and become a butcher, so from 1854 to 1856, you probably could have found him running from a violin lesson, to an organ lesson, to a piano lesson, then to the butcher’s shop. I bet his violin teacher sat at home worrying that he would cut a finger off with a butcher’s knife or something—you know how teachers are.

It didn’t take long for young Antonin’s musical ability to rise to the surface, though.

The village music teacher was a crusty old guy named Leihmann–at least that’s how Dvorak remembered him later in life–but despite the slaps on the wrist and Leihmann’s austere manners, he cared about his students and wanted them to succeed. He ultimately convinced Dvorak’s parents to let his pupil attend the organ school in Prague.

It turns out that the organ school was just a necessary evil for Dvorak. He hated it. As Dvorak once wrote,

“At the organ school everything smelt of mold. Even the organ. And anyone who wanted to learn anything had to know German.”

Apparently his classmates laughed at him behind his back, and his German was mocked because it wasn’t up to par. Beyond that, they ridiculed his compositional efforts, but we all know who got the last laugh there.

Antonin had been living with relatives while he attended the Organ School, but like his immediate family, they were poor. He scraped by with some gigs and by teaching a few students, and he had to rent a piano in order to compose.

After his family moved, he would stop by a certain Mr. Kvaca’s house to borrow the piano. The man’s wife didn’t appreciate the intrusion though, all because Antonin would sometimes leave footprints on Mrs. Kvaca’s clean floor. It seems like both parties could have been a bit more understanding here, but Dvorak apparently never learned to take his shoes off, and he had to find a different piano.

Dvorak’s next lodging place actually had a piano, but he abused that privilege too. He would sometimes get inspired in the middle of the night, run to the piano to figure out his new idea, and proceed to wake everyone up. The housemates soon rebelled.

In other news, Dvorak wasn’t a huge fan of social activities. He would avoid parties and frivolity at all costs, even to the point of sleeping elsewhere when some friends arranged a fancy party at the place he was staying. But despite small flaws like taking his dirty shoes inside and waking up neighbors by playing piano, he seems like he was a truly wonderful person. Said his cousin,

“I never heard him speak vulgarly, flippantly, or indelicately. He was through and through of noble character, of high morals and his conduct was without reproach.”

Dvorak first found love in the mid 1870s, when he fell for one of the classic blunders—he got involved with a student. He actually taught two sisters, Josefina and Anna, and he fell in love with the elder of the two. She didn’t return his feelings though, opting to marry a regional Count instead, and in a move that most of us would regard as a really bad idea, Dvorak married the younger sister.

Despite the initial awkwardness, they truly loved each other, Dvorak was an honorable man, and the older sister and her husband were nice people, so everyone was happy in the long run. None of the usual composer relationship drama that you’ve gotten used to hearing about from us.

He took church organist jobs in the early 1870s to try and make a living, and one of his compositions, Hymnus for choir and orchestra, had some success in 1873. It was his first taste of life as a legitimate composer.

He was still terribly poor though, and the fact that he now had a family made paying the bills rather precarious. He had a wife and one child–their first three children died in infancy.

In 1874, when he was in his thirties,  he applied for an Austrian State grant. The grant was reserved for promising, yet very poor, composers.||||||||Here is his letter to the town clerk, asking that his financial state be verified for the application.

“Dear Sir, I should be obliged if you would be good enough to furnish me with a certificate in German confirming that I am without means, as such a certificate must be enclosed with my application for the award of a State Grant for artists.”

Now here’s the letter from the clerk to the grant committee on behalf of Dvorak. It’s never funny to see a family in need, but we found humor in this note because of the obvious dramatic irony. Dvorak would eventually become one of the world’s foremost composers. Here’s the note.

“Certificate confirming that Antonin Dvorak, teacher of music, resident at no.1364, is without means.”

“The Town Clerk’s Office of the Royal Capital of Prague hereby confirms, for the purpose of gaining a state grant, due official investigation having been made, that Antonin Dvorak, teacher of music, born 1841, married and father of one unprovided child, has no property, and that, except for a salary of 126 gulden which he receives as organist of the church of St. Adalbert and 60 gulden which he earns monthly by the private teaching of music, he has no other source of income.”

Dvorak’s body of work, along with his pretty formidable financial need, gave him a strong chance of landing the grant.

Also, a rather famous composer was on the adjudicating board for that grant. His name was Johannes Brahms.

Composer Antonin Dvorak, Brahms, and Jeanette Thurber

Dvorak ultimately won the grant, and he qualified for it 5 years in a row. Furthermore, he struck up a close friendship with Brahms, who referred the up-and-coming composer to his publisher. Dvorak’s life dramatically improved throughout the 1870s.

For sake of time, let’s fast-forward a little bit. His Moravian Duets and Slavonic Dances won him international acclaim in the latter half of the 1870s, and his attention to folk songs in the Slavonic Dances earned him the reputation as the guy who created a Czech national identity through music. The success of his Stabat Mater and Te Deum bring us up to 1892, and that’s when his tenure in the United States began.

Sorry to gloss over all of that, it’s really cool stuff. But the real purpose of this episode is to talk about music in the US., so we’re going to jump ahead to Dvorak’s invitation to the New World.

The fateful letter came on June 6th, 1891, just after Dvorak had received an honorary doctorate from Cambridge.

It was from Mrs. Jeanette Thurber.

Thurber was a wealthy arts benefactor in New York who wanted to promote a national conservatory of American music. Dvorak’s responsibilities would include several hours each week teaching, office hours to coach the most talented composition students, the promise to continue composing on US soil, and an obligation to six concert appearances annually.

In return, Dvorak would receive the huge sum of $15,000 per year, which was 25x what he made in Europe according to the New York Times. He would also get 4 months of vacation in the summer.

Basically, it was like Mrs. Thurber asking a fish to swim, and then paying for it. Of course Dvorak would be happy to keep composing and appearing in concerts.

The real trick was convincing him to leave his beloved Bohemia for a few years.

Believe it or not, Dvorak couldn’t bring himself to agree at first. His letters say things like “Should I take it? Or should I not?”, and “What people say in America is very mixed . . .”

His wife eventually took the signed contract to the post office for him. At least someone in the family had her head on straight.

By the way, that $15,000 would be roughly $355,000 today.

Dvorak in America

Dvorak landed in America on September 27, 1892 in Hoboken, New Jersey. His first stop? The Cake Boss.

Well ok, it wasn’t the Cake Boss. Dvorak probably wouldn’t have enjoyed reality TV.

Dvorak got busy with his work, and he immediately began to assess the state of musical affairs in the United States. Some of what he saw impressed him.

“Just imagine how the Americans work in the interests of art and for the people,”

…he wrote to a friend in 1892.

“Yesterday I came to Boston to conduct my obligatory concert at which the Requiem will be given with several hundred performers. The concert on December 1st will be for only the wealthy and the intelligentsia, but the preceding day my work will also be performed for poor workers who earn 18 dollars a week…That’s something, isn’t it? I am looking forward to it like a child!”

Some of what he saw and heard left him a little bit disappointed though. Take the conservatory’s opera competition, for instance.

“I look at the first page and can tell straight away whether it is the work of a dilettante or an artist. As regards operas, they are very poor and I don’t know whether any will be awarded a prize.”

Regarding Dvorak’s social life in America, well, it looks like he preferred pigeons to people. I mean, don’t we all?

“What the Master missed in America were his pigeons and locomotives,”

Wrote J.J. Kovarick.

No, we aren’t talking about a ten year old boy. We’re talking about arguably the most prominent living composer of the late 19th century. He had a beloved pigeon collection back at home, and yes, he really loved watching locomotives.

J.J. Kovarick wrote of how they took Dr. Dvorak to the Central Park Zoo so he could see the pigeons and other birds. This turned into a regular event.

Kovarick also tells a story in which they couldn’t find any trains for the great composer to watch, so they had to wait all afternoon at 155th street to catch a glimpse of the Boston express.

Fortunately, Dvorak found that he enjoyed steamships too, and the harbor was much closer to his home in Manhattan than 155th street was. It wasn’t long before Dvorak knew every ship captain and first mate by name.

As a working professional, where would you spend your four months of summer vacation? The beach? Colorado? The New England Coast? San Diego?

Dvorak chose Spillville, Iowa.

There was a large Czech population there, and he enjoyed a time of composition and relaxation. The change in pace seemed fitting to his personality. He hardly ever spoke about music with the town residents, and apparently he preferred it that way. He was content to play the organ in a quaint local church. Overall, his letters indicate that he was very happy in Iowa.

He also offered up some humorous, and spot on, descriptions of the Midwest:

10: “It is very strange here.”

Yep. Nailed that one.

11: “Few people and a great deal of empty space. A farmer’s nearest neighbour is often 4 miles off, especially in the prairies (I call them the Sahara)…”

Really though, Dvorak did love his time in cornfield country.

On his way back to New York after his four months off, Dvorak stopped at Niagara falls. After a few minutes of silence, the quintessential music nerd said…

12: “My goodness, what a symphony in B minor that will be…”

It’s hard not to love this guy.

Antonin Dvorak, Harry Burleigh and African American Spirituals

“I am now satisfied,” said Dvorak to journalist James Creelman, “That the future music of this country must be founded upon what are called negro melodies.”

That would have been a pretty jarring statement in late 19th century North America. But ignorance is bliss, isn’t it? Dvorak didn’t understand the deeply rooted racism in the United States, and he just called things as he saw them. He really liked African American melodies. He also loved Native American music, and he often wrote about the so called “Indian” music on our continent.

Dvorak had much more to say about what we now refer to as plantation songs and spirituals.

“These beautiful and varied themes are the product of the soil. They are American….These are the folk songs of America and your composers must turn to them. All of the great musicians have borrowed from the songs of the common people.”

We’ll get into the cultural ramifications of his statements in a little while. Right now, with Dvorak’s’ interest in folk tunes in mind, let’s get into the background of the New World Symphony and String Quartet No. 12, the one we call the American.

In Dvorak’s’ own words, he was here not to “interpret Beethoven or Wagner for the Public.” He wanted to, and I quote, “discover what young Americans had in them and to help them express it.”

And since he couldn’t create melodies in these young Americans’ heads, he encouraged them to dig into their own folklore and find tunes. After all, Dvorak had made a career out of using Slavic folk songs back home in Bohemia.

One student in particular, a young man named Harry T. Burleigh, played an especially important role in Dvorak’s discovery of African American spirituals.

One could even say that Burleigh, despite not being advanced enough to participate in Dvorak’s classes at the conservatory, influenced the New World Symphony more than anything else in North America.

You see, Harry Burleigh was himself an African American. He was a student at the conservatory because of Mrs. Thurber’s inclusive policies–I know, it sounds crazy, but she was actually well ahead of her time. We’ll get to that in a bit–and he would sweep the hallways after hours to earn some side cash. He would sing spirituals in the hallways as he worked.

One day Dvorak came along and heard the songs. He soon fell in love with what he and others referred to as “Southern” music, and you can hear the influence of spirituals in his music after that.

Sure, that chapter in the New World Symphony’s life may be apocryphal. And it sounds like we just tore a chapter out of Good Will Hunting, if you’ve seen that movie. But the story continues.

Burleigh later wrote that Dvorak asked him to play and sing a couple of spirituals each time he sat down to work on the New World Symphony, and that the composer wanted to be, quote, “saturated,” with southern music before arranging ideas into his music.

Burleigh, who also worked as a scribe for Dvorak, was thrilled to comply. Burleigh relates how the intro of the 9th symphony is, and I quote,  “pervaded with syncopation common to Negro song and by a use of the flat seventh in the minor mode,” end quote.

Speaking of Good Will Hunting, it’s too bad we lost Robin Williams before he could play Antonin Dvorak in a movie. I can see a billing for Robin Williams and John Boyega right now as Dvorak and Harry Burleigh, the young protege. Helen Mirren would have been a great Jeanette Thurber, the founder of the conservatory.

Oh well, life goes on.

Dvorak: New World Symphony (Symphony No. 9)

When you sit down and listen to Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, the one known as the New World Symphony, you probably won’t think to yourself, “Wow, that sounds American.” You won’t pull out an American flag or anything. Mark Wahlberg won’t make a movie about it.

It actually sounds just like a product of its time, which would be late romanticism. You can find some African American spiritual vibes in it if you listen carefully, though.

There’s a particular flute solo around the 9:00 minute mark in the first movement that sounds very much like it could be a spiritual. Part of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” to be exact. You’ll notice it when you listen. While the tune is definitely an original composition by Dvorak, the solo brings to mind the fact that Harry Burleigh sang spirituals for Dvorak before the composer sat down to work.

In the second movement, the famous English Horn solo “sounds for all the world like a folk song,” in the words of James Keller. It’s actually a 100% original melody from Dvorak though.

The second movement has been a source of confusion in the past because one of Dvorak’s students wrote a song called “Goin’ Home” decades after the premiere of the New World Symphony.

“Goin’ Home” is a song based on the theme from the 2nd mvt of the New World Symphony, not the other way around.

“Goin’ Home” has been referred to as a “pseudo-spiritual.” It’s not an authentic spiritual, just to reiterate, and it’s derived from a theme in the New World Symphony.

The third movement doesn’t have much of a north american sound at all, if you’re looking for folk songs and spirituals and that sort of Americana stuff. Dvorak said that it relates to the dance section of Longfellow’s epic poem, “The Song of Hiawatha.” The poem is in trochaic tetrameter, in case you were wondering. I just looked that up.

So to recap a little bit, the New World Symphony has very little New World-sounding material, but the little bit that does exist is important. Also, Dvorak doesn’t directly quote any folk songs. He just uses them as inspiration, some of which is more obvious than others. After all, that was his mission here in North America, wasn’t it? To help our composers find a unique and fresh American voice, rooted in Native tradition?

Dvorak’s Chamber Music

In fairness to Dvorak’s chamber music, we need to talk about his String Quartet No. 12, the “American” quartet. We’ll make it fast.

He wrote the quartet in 1893 while he was in Iowa on vacation, and it only took him about two weeks. In case you were wondering if composers enjoy working on the same piece for a long time, this is what Dvorak had to say about the American quartet:

“”Thank God! I am content. It was fast.”

I guess that answers our question.

Many listeners point to Dvorak’s heavy use of the pentatonic scale in the quartet as an indication of native American influence, but he had used it before in his Slavic music. That wasn’t uniquely North American.

The Pentatonicism in his String Quartet No. 12 did make the piece sound open and a bit stark though, which is a perfect parallel to Iowa, where he lived during his vacation. Dvorak often wrote about the impact that American geography, as well as folk tunes, had on his composition.

Ironically, the most American thing about Quartet No. 12 is Dvorak’s reference to a little bird that continually annoyed Dvorak while he was working. The bird is a scarlet tanager. You can hear the reference in a recurring violin motif in the third movement.

James Creelman on the Influence of African American Music

Thanks for hanging in there with us so far. I hope you’re not suffering and wondering how much longer this episode will be, and maybe you’re just sticking it out because, well, you’ve made it this far. I have some good news—we get to jump into the more juicy cultural stuff now.

Remember how we mentioned earlier that Dvorak started talking about what he viewed as uniquely American music without really understanding the great racial divide in this country? It was wonderful. He really entered the ring throwing punches, so to speak, but he had no idea that an opponent was in the ring too. He didn’t really mean to hit anybody.

We’re so glad he did, though.

Earlier, we briefly referred to the journalist James Creelman. In 1893, Creelman wrote a story for the New York Herald entitled the “Real Value of Negro Melodies.” It sheds some light on Dvorak, his views on African American music, and how Jeanette Thurber’s National Conservatory of Music in America influenced the future of North American music.

In an interview, Dvorak told Creelman the following:

“I am now satisfied that the future music of this country must be founded upon what are called negro melodies. “[these songs] are pathetic, tender, passionate, melancholy, solemn, religious, bold, merry, gay, or what you will. It is music that suits itself to any mood or any purpose.”

I know we’ve said over and over how Dvorak loved African American folk music and spirituals, but it bears mentioning again that Dvorak thought spirituals were THE FUTURE of American classical music. That was a big deal at the time.

James Creelman himself weighed in on that debate:

“Many of the negro melodies–most of them, I believe–are the creations of negroes born and reared in America. That is the peculiar aspect of the problem. The negro does not produce music of that kind elsewhere….The negro in America utters a new note, full of sweetness, and as characteristic as any music of any country.”

Basically, Creelman was saying that the so-called “negro songs” were about as American as it gets. They were, in more ways than one, uniquely American. After all, most of the folk songs from other ethnicities in America came from Germany, Scotland, Ireland, and others. It seems like a pretty logical conclusion to us now, but it was controversial at the time.

The third aspect of James Creelman’s article that we should look at is the attention it gives to the the conservatory’s admission policies. Jeanette Thurber, the founder, was adamant that talented African American students be permitted to attend the Conservatory just like everyone else.

While this was a hugely important step forward, it’s crazy to think that they actually had to put an announcement out in the paper about it. Here’s a bit of the printed announcement:

“The National Conservatory of Music of America proposes to enlarge its sphere of usefulness by adding to its departments a branch for the instruction in music of colored pupils of talent…the aptitude of the colored race for music, vocal and instrumental, has long been recognized, but no definite steps have hitherto been taken to develop it.”

We also need to be honest here and acknowledge that the announcement still appears to fall short on the equality scale.

The announcement explicitly states that the Conservatory of music would admit African American students because they, as a race, have demonstrated an aptitude for vocal and instrumental music.

The obvious inverse there is that if African Americans, as a race, had not demonstrated a sufficient aptitude for music, they wouldn’t be admitted as students.

Oh man. Yes, entry to the conservatory should have been merit-based, but on an individual basis and not a racial one. Such was the climate of the US at the time.

Before we vilify the institution for its patronizing word choices though, we should consider that maybe they wrote the announcement the way they did because they knew how racist the American public was. You know, the same people who would be reading the announcement.

The Conservatory may have been trying to ease into public inclusiveness, as it almost certainly realized that the decision to include people of color would cause backlash. Creelman continued with the following passage:

“The importance of this step can only be appreciated in light of Dr. Dvorak’s declaration that negro melody furnishes the only sure base for an american school of Music.”

Regardless of the fact that Dvorak didn’t correctly predict the future of American classical music, it’s fair to say that Dvorak and his boss at the time, Mrs. Jeanette Thurber, played an invaluable role in making it possible for young African Americans to have futures as classical composers.

Around this time, Scott Joplin was making waves with his ragtime compositions. The blues were quietly forming elsewhere. Basically, African Americans in non-classical music settings were quite literally setting the stage for every influential music outlet in the 20th century United States.

While this is almost certainly an oversimplification, and you’ll just have to forgive me for that, Dvorak may have been the ticket to musical validation for young African American classical composers.

That’s not to say these young composers couldn’t break out on their own. But Dvorak really helped.

We’re going to leave the race conversation at that for now, but we’ll get into it again in part II. And I promise we’re not trying to exploit a hot button issue just to be relevant. We committed to the Dvorak topic a few weeks ago, and well, the racial material is an inseparable part of Dvorak’s life. It’s also an unfortunate part of America’s musical history that few people understand. So we all have something to look forward to in a couple of weeks, I guess.

James Creelman brought up one more interesting point in his article that we haven’t discussed yet though. It involves federal funding of a national conservatory.

Creelman wrote, and I quote, ““Dr. Dvorak, of course, cannot understand why the national authorities should not support such a broad educational enterprise out of the public treasury,” end quote.

It’s easy to see how a composer who benefited from his own country’s grant program and conservatory would be confused. We aren’t implying that the United States should take the funding of conservatories out of the private sector–to the contrary, I think our conservatory model operates pretty well–but we found it amusing to see Dvorak wonder publicly at how in the world our system could function.

Creelman himself offers a bit of rather sharp criticism though. He wrote about how America’s big donors loved to contribute to projects where they would be recognized or see instant gratification.

Creelman cited the appeal of hospital donations, where donors got to see the smiling faces of newly cured patients, but he compared that to the small number of people who contributed to necessary behind-the-scenes work in labs developing the medicine.

He tied that into the fact that there were no shortages of philanthropists willing to pay for public productions and gaudy opera houses, but it was hard to find someone willing to fund the growth of students and pay for teachers.

That was why Mrs. Jeanette Thurber was such a big deal.

Ultimately, her conservatory didn’t last. It lost its relevance in the 1920s and was declared defunct in 1952.

But without her, there would have been no Dvorak in America, no New World Symphony, no American Quartet, and maybe not much serious consideration of spirituals and native American tunes in art music.

Despite the wonderful contributions from Thurber and Dvorak though, we should mention that a number of established American composers got pushed to the side in all of this, and as you can imagine, there was some major kickback.

That’s what we are going to cover next time on Backstage Podcast.

Backstage this week was written by Adam Gingery and narrated  by Justen Blackstone. As always, music and production is by Vyking, who actually just put out a brand new album! The name of the album is “Message” and you can get it for free on Amazon, Noisetrade, or Spotify. Just search “Vyking Message”, that’s V-Y-K-I-N-G message.

Also, we are still waiting for your emails, yes you, telling us about your crazy classical music experiences. Might be a funny teacher, audition, horrible concert, or just a cool story you think we should know. We also would love to hear any comments, complaints, or feedback about our shows as well.