Dvorak's Slavonic Dances were originally written as duo-piano pieces, and composition of the two sets was separated by eight years. The first set, Op. 46, finished in 1878, was immediately popular not only in the composer's homeland but throughout Europe. His publisher, Simrock, continually requested him to compose more of the spirited, light-hearted works.
The second set, Op. 72, was not completed until 1886, as Dvorák's attention was devoted to other, larger compositions. He grudgingly began the orchestration, telling Simrock that it would be "an accursed job." More introspective and poetic in nature, the second set of Dances brought the composer ten times the price he accepted for the first set.
Yoel Levi and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra have recently been nominated for a Grammy Award for their Telarc recording of Holst's The Planets (CD-80466, in Surround Sound), in the category of Best Orchestral Recording, Classical. Levi, in his eleventh season as Music Director of the ASO, is due to step down in the year 2000.