Iowa's Czech-ed History

Aug 7, 2017

One of the most colorful cultural histories in Iowa belongs to those of Czech heritage. Early Czech immigrants to Iowa settled in farming communities, most notably at Spillville in the northeast corner of the state. Later, immigrants from today’s Czech and Slovak Republics came to work in meatpacking plants, primarily in Cedar Rapids where Czech immigrants first settled in the early 1850s. Many of the Czechs who settled in Cedar Rapids worked in the large Sinclair meatpacking plant. Today, more people of Czech ancestry live in Cedar Rapids than in any other city in the world, except for the Czech capital of Prague.

In a nod to the Czech history abounding in eastern Iowa, Orchestra Iowa’s “A Night in Prague” offers a musical exploration of a heritage deeply embedded within our communities. Mozart’s popularity in the Czech capital increased with his overwhelmingly successful premiere of his 38th Symphony, nicknamed “Prague.” And Czech composers, Leoš Janáček and Antonín Dvořák, each wrote music reminiscent of their cultural identity with folk songs and dances often becoming the motivation for melodies and themes used in their works. Dvořák even spent the summer of 1893 in Spillville where he was able to work on his music surrounded by his fellow Czechs. Please tune in tonight, August 7th at 7 p.m. for this Symphonies of Iowa broadcast!


JANÁČEK             Moravian Dances

MOZART              Symphony No. 38, "Prague"

DVOŘÁK              Symphony No. 8 

Timothy Hankewich, Music Director and Conductor

(Concert recorded Nov. 11-12, 2016)