Dvořák was born on September 8 (1) 1841 in Nelahozeves, near Prague then Austrian Empire, where he spent most of his life.
His father František Dvořák (1814-1894) was a butcher, innkeeper, and professional player of the zither. Dvořák's parents recognized his musical talent early, and he received his earliest musical education at the village school which he entered in 1847, age 6. From 1857 to 1859 he studied music in Prague's only Organ School, and gradually developed into an accomplished player of the violin and the viola. Throughout the 1860s he played viola in the Bohemian Provisional Theater Orchestra, which from 1866 was conducted by Bedřich Smetana, the great Czech Composer, who best known for his symphonic poem Vltava also known as The Moldau.
The need to supplement his income by teaching left Dvořák with limited free time, and in 1871 he gave up playing in the orchestra in order to compose.
In 1873 Dvořák married Anna Čermáková. They had nine children together.
At about this time Dvořák began to be recognized as a significant composer. He became the organist at St. Adalbert's Church, Prague, and began a period of prolific composition. Dvořák composed his second string quintet in 1875, and in 1877, the critic Eduard Hanslick informed him that his music had attracted the attention of Johannes Brahms ( whose birthday was yesterday, May 7), whom he later befriended.
Brahms contacted the musical publisher Simrock, who as a result commissioned Dvořák's first set of Slavonic Dances. Published in 1878, these were an immediate success. due to his successes Dvořák was invited to visit England where he appeared to great acclaim in 1884.
From 1892 to 1895, Dvořák was the director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York City, at a $15,000 annual salary. Here Dvořák met with Harry Burleigh, one of the earliest African-American composers, his pupil. Burleigh introduced traditional American Spirituals to Dvořák at the latter's request.
In the winter and spring of 1893, while in New York, Dvořák wrote Symphony No.9, "From the New World". He spent the summer of 1893 with his family in the Czech-speaking community of Spillville, Iowa, to which some of his cousins had earlier immigrated. While there he composed the String Quartet in F (the "American"), and the String Quintet in E flat, as well as a Sonatina for violin and piano. Problems over his salary with the founder of the New York Symphonie the wealthy and philanthropic socialite, Jeannette Thurber; coupled with new acclaim in Europe and homesickness compelled him to return to Bohemia.
In 1896 he visited England for his 9th and final time to hear the premier of his Cello Concerto in B minor.
Antonín Leopold Dvořák died in Prague in 1904.
Dvořák shares his birth date with the Virgin Mary, and notables such as Richard the Lion Heart and... me.