Music is all in the family

Cellist comes from a long line of famous musicians

“Sometimes when I go to concerts at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra I wonder what a wonderful life it would have been to be a full time musician,” says John Dvořák.

“But now I have the best of both worlds.”

While working in the publishing industry, midtown’s Dvořák spends his free time as a member of Orchestra Toronto playing his cello with the renowned community group and offshoot quartets he’s formed throughout the way.

The rich and sweet melody of the cello is Dvořák’s instrument of choice, as it has been ever since his parents — both musicians — taught him to play when he was nine.

“My parents encouraged my sister and me to pursue music as a career, but I always did it for pleasure,” says Dvořák, who worked in broadcasting before switching to the publishing industry.

The Hungarian-born cellist now works for publishing company Captus Press, where he handles new media development.

Dvořák’s father played the trombone for major Budapest orchestras while Dvořák’s mother was a concert violinist and eventually became a concert master of the Winnipeg and Hamilton symphony orchestras following Dvořák’s family immigration to Canada after the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.

Music is in Dvořák’s genes, and not just because of his parents. It’s ingrained in Dvořák from further up his family tree.

Dvořák’s great-great-uncle was Antonin Dvořák (1841-1904), a celebrated Czech composer known for such works as the New World Symphony, the Slavonic Dances, and the “American” String Quartet.

Dvořák grew up learning to play the music of his great-great uncle but the fact that he was related to a world famous composer was never a big part in his musical upbringing, he says.

As children he and his sister — a hobbyist violinist — would play Dvořák’s quartets with their friends with their mother conducting them.

He was most drawn to his relative’s music.

“I react more to Dvořák as a musician as he created wonderful works,” Dvořák says.

“I react more to that than to him being my great-great uncle.”

Dvořák alongside Orchestra Toronto play the great composer’s Symphony No. 7 in D minor on April 11 at the Toronto Centre for the Arts’ George Weston Recital Hall.

The concert is the fourth in the orchestra’s 2009-2010 A Season of Symphonies, a series of five Sunday-afternoon concerts at the North York concert hall, where they are one of the many community orchestras-in-residence.

“Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7 isn’t one that is played very often as his eighth or ninth symphonies,” Dvořák says.

“His music has a freshness to it.”

Music, it seems, is in every generation of the Dvořák family.

Dvořák’s son Matthew, 25, is also a cellist, having learned to play the instrument when he was four-and-a-half.

He studied at the University of Toronto with top Canadian soloist Shauna Rolston.

Matthew is now debating if he should pursue a full time music career like his paternal grandparents and Antonin, or a more of a hobbyist one, as his father has done.

“I think he’ll be more like me.” Dvořák says, with a chuckle.

“Music acts as nourishment with the rest of your life.”

And because of that, it follows you whatever path you take, Dvořák says.

About this article:

By: Lorianna De Giorgio
Posted: Mar 31 2010 11:58 am
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto