He played the viola and he studied with Brahms. Two reasons why he is one of my all time favorite composers.
In 1857 he went to the capital or Czechoslovakia, Prague, to study at the Organ School, where he studied composition, the playing of chorales and improvising, while attending also the secondary school. He played viola in the music society orchestra. In 1859, as a viola player, he joined a dance band that played in restaurants and for balls, remaining there for some years. In 1862 he was principal violist with a Czech opera house theatre orchestraWhile Dvorak was studying composition, he went through a sort of “practical training” about instrumental music, playing viola in orchestra from the age of 16 to the age of 30, learning first hand how to write for the viola. He believed that “no instrument should be playing a part that is merely filling in, every instrument speaks a language of its own.” His first first official opus was a quintet with two violas.
Born September 8, 1841, in Nelahozeves, Bohemia (now Czech Republic); (died May 1, 1904, in Prague); son of Frantisek (a butcher and innkeeper) and Anna Zdenek Dvorak; married Anna Cermakova, November, 1873; children: Otakar, Otilie Suk, Aloisie, Anna, Antonin, Magda. Education: Prague Organ School, 1857-59.
Considered the greatest composer that the Czech nation ever produced, Antonin Dvorak wrote a career’s worth of classical works for orchestra, symphony, and choir that survive as some of the most majestic and acclaimed works of nineteenth-century Romantic music.