It’s easy when you’re an artistic person, whether you’re a music composer, author, singer, painter, or anyone creative…sometimes you just feel tired of beating your head against the same wall.

Is it all really worth it? Will anyone ever take note of your hard work?

For the first 20 or so years of his professional career, Antonin Dvořák struggled to find widespread success. He managed to make a living as a musician, but he faced challenges including having an opera spurned as “unperformable”.

But somewhere along the way he caught the ear of Johannes Brahms, who Dvořák himself admired. Through Brahms he found a publisher and began to find a larger audience eventually receiving commissions by the Royal Philharmonic Society of London, and becoming the director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York City.

In an article he wrote for Harper’s New Monthly Magazine in February 1895, Dvořák had this to say about art and “making it”.

“It cannot be emphasized too strongly that art, as such, does not “pay,” to use an American expression – at least, not in the beginning – and that the art that has to pay its own way is apt to become vitiated and cheap.”

Wow, doesn’t that sound familiar? More than anything, Dvořák understood that the real value of being an artist is in mentoring and educating of younger artists, as Dvořák was mentored by Brahms.

“My own duty as a teacher, I conceive, is not so much to interpret Beethoven, Wagner, or other masters of the past, but to give what encouragement I can to the young musicians of America.”

WHY THIS MATTERS:

Perhaps you can find that mentor that can help you to the next level of your artistic success, or perhaps you can BE that mentor to someone you know who is struggling.

We all need it, especially in an age where the master/apprentice model has seemed to be harder to find.

Have a great week!

EC

John Eric Copeland is not a musicologist, but he does play one on the Internet. For more on his unique twist on Music History and why it matters today, subscribe to this blog or join us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn!

1 comment on “Dvořák and the Struggle for Success”

  1. …”apt to becoming vitiated and cheap”, wow, that really resonates. It's true. I am thinking that it is really important to not lose the focus of the passion for why we do what we do and to not compromise for the sake of getting something out there for whatever end goal.

    A recent opportunity has been placed in my lap to be part of a ministry team and mentor others. This seems to be right on with what you are talking about here. Preparing to accept that offer, covered in a lot of thought and prayer. Thanks for the confirmation.

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