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National Museum buys unknown letter by Antonín Dvořák

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Prague, April 6 (CTK) – The Czech National Museum has gained a letter that Czech composer Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904) wrote to Austrian music critic Eduard Hanslick in 1882, Veronika Urbanova, from the museum, told CTK on Wednesday.

The museum bought the letter, which has been unknown until now, at a Berlin auction for 9500 euros on Tuesday.

Czech National Museum director Michal Lukes said the museum administers the world’s largest and most significant collection of items related to Dvorak.

“As letters by Antonin Dvorak appear at auctions rarely, we are very glad that we succeeded in gaining the unique manuscript for our collections,” Lukes said.

Apart from precious original manuscripts, the museum’s Antonin Dvorak Fund includes items such as the composer’s piano, viola, baton and glasses that he used for conducting.

The museum’s experts said the letter from Dvorak to Hanslick, one of then most prominent music critics, is unique not only because of the two men, but also because of its contents. Dvorak writes about the premiere performance of his opera The Cunning Peasant that took place on October 24, 1882 in the Dresden Hofoper. He asks Hanslick to write about the opera in the Neue Freie Presse newspaper in order to help it be staged at the Viennese Opera. The letter shows the close relation between Dvorak and Hanslick.

At the Berlin auction, the National Museum also bought a receipt of Czech soprano singer Josefina Duskova (Josepha Duschek; 1754-1824) for 1600 euros.

Duskova confirms in writing that she received a pension of 250 guldens from her benefactor, Count Christian Clam-Gallas. The receipt is an evidence of her life in old age and of the benefactory activities of the Clam-Gallas family.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed two arias for Duskova. In the house Duskova and her husband had in Prague-Betramka, he wrote part of his opera Don Giovanni.

Lukes said the museum bought both documents for a good price. The Culture Ministry promptly provided finances for the special acquisition, he said.

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