About the project
In the beginning, there was just enthusiasm for the music of Antonín Dvořák, interest in the world of artificial intelligence (AI), and a desire to learn how to use AI creatively and how far the current possibilities reach.
Later, having become overwhelmed with the creative process, we realized an ambition to create work that would be of great pleasure to an audience; a pleasure that would awaken positivity.
This was to be a work to really show the advantages and limitations of AI, and help us find an answer to the question: what is our role in this process - the role of “Homo sapiens”?
Antonín Dvořák left more than forty unfinished compositions and unfinished sketches behind him when he died. We decided to finish one of them - a two-page fragment of a piano composition in E minor stored in the Czech Music Museum - … 115 years later. As it turned out, it wasn’t all just about this fragment of unfinished music…
We called the team at AIVA Technologies to enquire about their artificial intelligence system, AIVA (Artificial Intelligence Virtual Artist), which is the only artificial intelligence in the world to have been awarded composer status by SACEM, an association of authors and composers.
Since 2016, there have been around 30,000 compositions by authors of all ages, from baroque to the 20th century, analyzed by AIVA in order to learn the basics of classical music composition.
AIVA’s neural network system can combine melody, harmony, rhythm and pace with emotional patterns in a very skilled way.
It doesn’t just copy what someone has created, but uses its own creative ideas.
Our assignment for AIVA was to study all of Antonín Dvořák’s 115 finished opuses, analyze his compositional style, and finish the fragment mentioned above using algorithms. We also tasked AIVA with creating two additional parts for the eventual three-part composition, From the Future World, all in the style of the grand master.
It took AIVA an entire month to work on Dvořák’s opus compositions. After, AIVA produced sheet music for a five-minute composition for piano, which was later rewritten for violin.
AIVA then composed two additional movements, not for the purpose of finishing any of Dvořák’s incomplete sketches, but to represent a free composition in the style of Antonín Dvořák.
We named the composition, From the Future World.
We wanted to express continuity from Dvořák's famous Symphony No. 9 in E minor, From the New World, and echo the piece’s fascination with the “new”, and the hope and desire not to be disappointed by expectation.
Using modern technology, we pay our tribute to one of the greatest Czech composers, who was one of the first to achieve worldwide recognition.
Are you curious to find out how well AIVA did with the composition? Are you interested in what the creators, artists and other influential thought-leaders think about the project? Would you like to connect with the team?
Check out the website, and don’t miss out on the PKF – Prague Philharmonic live performances at the Rock for People festival, and at the Rudolfinum Concert Hall, with Chief Conductor Emmanuel Villaume, on 15 November 2019!
Who was Antonín Dvořák?
Antonín Dvořák was born in 1841 in Nelahozeves, a small village near Kralupy nad Vltavou. He was the first child and eldest son of František and Anna Dvořák. With his father being a butcher, there was an expectation that Antonín would one day take over his father’s trade. Soon after starting to learn the craft of butchery, it became clear his immense talent for music was going to take him in another direction.
When the family moved to Zlonice, the twelve-year-old Antonín studied under the tutelage of Antonín Liehmann, a violin-teacher and multi-instrumentalist. He learned to play violin and organ, as well as music theory.
In 1857, at the age of 16, he moved to Prague to begin studies at an organ school. At 18, he became a violist in Karel Komzák’s orchestra, where he would stay and play for almost nine years. One of the chief composers the orchestra regularly worked with was another famous Czech composer, Bedřich Smetana.
This engagement was essential for Dvořák. Not only did he get to learn contemporary Czech music, but also opera from around the world, thanks to playing in the Provisional Theatre Orchestra.
Soon after, he began composing, and met his love and muse, Josefína Čermáková, and later marrying her younger sister, Anna.
Despite relatively rapid success, he had to wait a couple of years longer to become financially independent. It wasn’t until 1875 when he won the Austrian State Prize (Stipendium) awarding financial support to young composers in need that he became legitimately independent and successful.
However, more important than the money was the support of Johannes Brahms, who was part of the awarding jury. Brahms recommended Dvořák to one of the most important German publishers, Fritz Simrock.
Dvořák composed the famous Moravian Duets, and the first parts of the Slavonic Dances, which became the first international successes for Dvořák.
This happy period, however, was marred by tremendous family tragedy. Within two years, Dvořák lost all three of his children. While overcome by grief, he created one of his most beautiful works – Stabat Mater. Paradoxically, this work finally opened the way for Dvořák to further succeed internationally, performing Stabat Mater at the Royal Albert Hall in London. He wrote to his wife, Anna: “My dear wife, … I don’t know what to write, only just that I am immeasurably happy having so much appreciation and admiration from everyone here. Goodbye. Your Antonín.”
A happy period began. Dvořák built his summer house in Vysoká near Příbram, and over the following twenty years proceeded to create some of his most famous compositions there.
In 1891, Dvořák received an offer to become the Director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York, with a salary thirty times higher than his salary at the Prague Conservatory. After first hesitating, he moved to the United States where he stayed for two and half years.
While in the United States, he wrote his most successful pieces - Symphony No. 9 in E minor “From the New World”, String Quartet No. 12 in F major nicknamed the American Quartet, a cycle of eight humoresques, biblical songs from David’s book of psalms, and at the end of his stay in America, the famous Cello Concerto in B minor – a piece that became an essential part of the repertoires of cello players worldwide.
At the end of his life he found inspiration in the realm of fairytales, fables and folklore, composing two fabulous operas, The Devil and Kate, and Rusalka. The premiere of Rusalka in 1901 was one of the last triumphs of Antonín Dvořák.
He died on 1 May 1904, suddenly and unexpectedly. As he lived, so he left the world, without pathos and ostentation. His last words were: “My head is spinning somehow. I’ll go to bed.”