Antonin Dvorak wrote five major symphonic poems in his life, of which we hear the last today. A Hero’s Song has no specific program to describe or illuminate its action, and some have concluded that it is partially autobiographical. I don’t know about that, but it is a typically fine Dvorak work, full of melody and energy that is at times infectious, especially in the final bars when the kinetic nature of the music really picks up. I’ve found over the last several years that when I get in the car and turn on the classical music station and I hear an orchestral work that brings simple, sheer pleasure, as often as not it’s something by Antonin Dvorak. His music seems to be very closely attuned to my happier, non-brooding self, and that certainly applies here, as well.
Of course, the most famous composer of tone poems of all time, Richard Strauss, would not long afterwards write a work called A Hero’s Life, which has not been neglected as has the Dvorak work. We’ll get to Strauss in good time, but for now, here’s the Dvorak.