Dr. Vance Wolverton, professor emeritus of music at California State University Fullerton, and Bily Clocks Museum Director Carol Riehle, pose with the American Classical Music Hall of Fame medallion which will be permanently housed in the Museum’s Antonin Dvorak exhibit.
Dr. Vance Wolverton, professor emeritus of music at California State University Fullerton, and Bily Clocks Museum Director Carol Riehle, pose with the American Classical Music Hall of Fame medallion which will be permanently housed in the Museum’s Antonin Dvorak exhibit.
Nearly 119 years after Antonin Dvorak and his family arrived in Spillville, the city was chosen to receive an American Classical Music Hall of Fame medallion recently awarded to him.

Dvorak is the famous Czech composer known for his symphonic, choral and chamber music, operas and orchestral and vocal-instrumental pieces.

When Dvorak was director of the National Conservatory in New York City from 1892 through 1895, he spent the summer of 1893 in Spillville, where he reportedly felt at home among the Bohemians who had immigrated there. He composed the American Quartet in Spillville and found his inspiration for Humoresque, which he composed after leaving the community.



Why Spillville

Dr. Vance Wolverton, professor emeritus of music at California State University Fullerton and a member of the American Classical Music Hall of Fame Board of Directors, presented the medallion in front of a small gathering outside the Bily Clocks Museum in Spillville Wednesday afternoon.

The mission of the Hall of Fame, headquartered in Cincinnati, is to honor great artists and institutions that have helped shape the landscape of American music and in doing so, nurture current and future classical music enthusiasts, according to Wolverton. The non-profit organization was formed in 1996.

"Why Dvorak ... Why Spillville?" Wolverton asked his audience.

He quoted his friend and prominent Dvorak scholar, Dr. David Beveridge, who is writing an extensive study of Dvorak's life and work, to answer the first question

"Justification seems in part from the fact that Dvorak had a very important American connection. He was, for three years, director of the National Conservatory in New York City, years in which he wrote such important works as the New World Symphony and the American String Quartet. By incorporating American musical styles into traditional forms, he provided an example for young American composers seeking to establish their country's musical identity," said Wolverton, quoting Beveridge.

As to why the medallion should be housed in Spillville, Wolverton said the Hall of Fame Board agreed with Beveridge that many more Americans would be able to see and appreciate the medallion if it were housed in the United States, rather than Prague, which is near the village where Dvorak was born.

When Bily Clocks Museum Director Carol Riehle agreed to have the medallion on permanent display in the Museum's Dvorak Exhibit, Wolverton said the Board of Directors "heartily agreed that Spillville is indeed the ideal location for the medallion."

Wolverton then presented the medallion to Riehle as the crowd applauded. The medallion was later taken to the Dvorak exhibit, where it was placed on the bust of Dvorak. Only two such busts exist - the other one is in the Dvorak Museum in Prague.



'Honored'

"It's such an honor to have the medallion come to the Museum here in Spillville. It was either the Dvorak Museum in his home of Prague, or here, and more Americans will see it here," Riehle commented.

"We will proudly display it in our Museum," Spillville Mayor Michael T. Klimesh said.

Among the other inductees into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame are Dave Brubek, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Aaron Copland, George Gershwin, Sergei Rachmaninoff and John Philip Sousa.