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Robert J Dvorak

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Robert J. Dvorak


Robert James Dvorak was born in Chicago of Czech and Norwegian parents on October 3, 1919. At age 8, his interest and introduction to music study was guided by Czech composer-arranger, Frank Mulacek, who gave him piano lessons and exposed him to quality music literature. At 12 years of age, he began French horn lessons with Chicago conductor and brass instrument instructor, Karel Husa. Later he was tutored by Chicago Symphony players, Josef Mourek, Max Pottag and Philip Farkas. During his high school years 1933-37, of greatest importance was music teacher, Louis M. Blaha, a Czech who emigrated from Vienna in the 1920s. As Director of Orchestra and Band music in the J. Sterling Morton High School and College in Cicero, Illinois, Blaha inspired his students as he introduced them to the music of the world’s great masters. In addition, he guided them in future pursuits. He encouraged Robert’s beginning music composition efforts and advised his application for a scholarship to the original Chicago Musical College Conservatory in downtown Chicago. It followed that young Dvorak was awarded a full scholarship in composition and theory to study with composer, Max Wald. Now he had the tools to progress in his endeavors to create quality music.

It was an unexpected surprise when a career was offered with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with whom Robert had frequently played extra horn parts. However, at this time, August 1941, and after only three years of conservatory were completed, a call to military service subverted his goals. Following World War II, Master Sgt. Robert J. Dvorak returned to the Chicago Conservatory in 1946 and completed his Bachelor and Master degrees in composition and theory. For two years, Robert Dvorak taught music appreciation and music theory at Wilson Junior College in Chicago.

Another unexpected turn came to this aspiring music composer-educator. Because of the Korean War, he was again called into military service. This time it was for three years. 2nd Lieutenant Robert Dvorak was appointed Assistant Bandmaster of the US Military Academy Band at West Point, New York, under Captain Francis E. Resta. This special band, in addition to regular duties at academy functions, performed at prestigious ceremonies for American Presidents, Heads of Foreign Countries, Ambassadors, Generals, and Members of Congress. Since preparations were already beginning for the West Point Academy’s sesquicentennial year of 1952, Lt. Dvorak, along with a number of composers in America and abroad, was requested to write appropriate music for the band. Upon returning to Chicago in 1952, he became a prominent music educator.

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