Join Barbara Ortwein, author of “A Summer in Spillville in 1893,” for a multi-media exposition and reading from her newest book that follows the journey of Antonín Dvořák to Iowa. A book signing will follow.
The exhibition displays content about Dvořák’s Prague, his home around Charles Square, the friends who influenced him to go to the U.S., and the story of how Dvořák made his way to his Bohemia in the U.S., Spillville, Iowa. Barbara will also incorporate music into her reading featuring two short pieces of Dvořák’s.
In 1892, Dvořák accepted a very well-paid position at the National Conservatory of Music of America in New York City and relocated with his family from Prague to New York. In 1893, homesickness for his Bohemian homeland led him and his family to set off on an adventurous trip to the small town of Spillville in rural Iowa for several months, in an area where many of his countrymen had settled. The experiences of the composer and his family in the former “Wild West” not only allowed him to find a little Bohemia in America, but also an America of diverse influences to which Bohemian immigrants also had made their contributions. It is hardly surprising that this journey echoes through numerous musical works of the composer due to the special inspiration that he found in Spillville and its surroundings.
Barbara Ortwein’s novel was inspired by the author’s personal experiences in Iowa, as well as in her new home Prague. With the composer Antonín Dvořák, she introduces an artist who provided outstanding service to the intercultural exchange between Europe and North America, indeed contributing to a blending of European and American elements in music. The small town of Spillville in northeastern Iowa played a special role in assuring the success of this fusion, as the author clarifies in a manner both informative and entertaining with this novel.