Dvořák Memorial

In July 1924, the CIASI Board made a decision to build a memorial to Dr. Antonín Dvořák at Riverside Park.

  1. F. Heuser spearheaded the project, A.R. Coffeen built the base for $368.75, J.P. Kuhn hauled the boulder for $9.00, and community members pitched in and donated labor. Heuser also wrote a speech for the Dvorak Memorial Dedication on September 28, 1925, and initiated the annual Dvořák Music Festival.

“This memorial is not dedicated to any particular one or more of his works; it is dedicated to the memory of Antonín Dvořák in commemoration of his visit to Iowa in general, and Spillville in particular. To one, whose name in the Galaxy of the World’s Music Masters of all time, ranks among the highest—a name that will be revered by the world’s music lovers to the end of time.”

Gottfried F. Heuser

Dvořák was homesick and came to Spillville to relax and regroup because Joseph J. Kovařík, an American of Czech ancestry, recommended Dvořák visit Spillville—a quiet little Czech-speaking farm village. So in late May 1893, Dvořák, his wife, their six children, an aunt, and a cook traveled by train to spend the summer of 1893 in Spillville.

Here, in the quiet of nature and companionship of fellow Czechs, he composed the String Quartet in F and the String Quartet in E-flat and made final edits to the freshly composed New World Symphony. He found in Spillville familiar food and drink. It was a common site that summer to see Dvořák walking along the Turkey River with his bucket of beer (predecessor of the growler) from one of the local pubs. The Spillville community just felt like home. When Dvořák departed, he was carrying the completed scores of his Symphony “From the New World” and his new “American” String Quartet. They both premiered at Carnegie Hall during the 1893-94 season, the most triumphant of his life.