Antonín Dvořák: Když mne stará matka zpívat učívala

Written by Leann Osterkamp


In category: Song of the Day

Published November 27, 2018

Although the February 20th concert will feature many of today’s talented first-generation American composers, the concept of American music being redefined by immigrants is far from a modern phenomenon. Antonín Dvořák, a Czech composer, is a prime example, coming to American around 1892. Upon coming to the United States, Dvořák was a pioneer in defining American music (years before the discussions and writings of some of the most prominent figures related to this topic, such as Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland). He wrote many articles discussing the importance of African-American and Native American musics in defining American musical identity. Though this song Když mne stará matka zpívat učívala (Songs My Mother Taught Me) was composed prior to his move to America, it is a poignant example of how Dvořák uses his cultural depth and understanding to inspire his compositional style. The clear Czech influences in this song can be heard later in his American compositions, where he mimics the elements of American spirituals. He is an early example of cross-cultural composing, as well as an influential artist in defining American music from an objective outsider perspective. 

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Leann Osterkamp is a passionate educator, solo/collaborative pianist, and recording artist. She is an American Presidential Scholar of the Arts and a Steinway Artist. She has garnered numerous accolades, in both performance and academia, starting with her first competitive win at age 8. She has performed/lectured at Caramoor, the Kennedy Center,  Carnegie’s Weill Hall, Steinway Hall, and the Library of Congress. She has recorded for Steinway Spirio and WQXR. Her solo album The Complete Works of Leonard Bernstein for Solo Piano and her recording of John Musto’s Improvisation & Fugue are released under the Steinway and Sons Label. Leann received her training at Juilliard and The Graduate Center CUNY. Formerly Adjunct Faculty at Juilliard, where she taught for 6 years, she is currently the Orchestra Director, Piano/Guitar faculty, and Boys Choir Director at Regis Jesuit High School. Leann joined the NYFOS family in 2014 as the first pianist to be invited to the Caramoor Rising Vocal Star Residency, and will be featured in Hyphenated-Americans on February 20, 2019 at Merkin Hall.


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