However, not everybody was so enthusiastic. Johannes Brahms had the following choice words to say about Dvořák’s Eight Symphony – “There is too much that’s fragmentary, incidental, loiters about in the piece. Everything is fine, musically captivating and beautiful—but there are no main points! Especially in the first movement, the result is not proper. But what a charming musician! When one says of Dvořák that he fails to achieve anything great and comprehensive with his pure, individual ideas, this is certainly correct.”
Despite this rather devastating assessment, Brahms did have a long personal friendship with Dvořák. However, much of the way we see Dvořák today is conditioned by his friendship with Brahms. Foremost is the notion of him being a Czech nationalist, his music originating from a century-long pattern of stifled, distorted and dominated Czech culture, both by armies and ideas. Dvořák was indeed nationalist in many respects, but to group all the Slavic Nations together as a kind of monolith alien to “Western” value is a mistake that was clearly pointed out in 1991 by the demise of the Soviet Union. A number of commentators have invested Dvořák’s celebratory Symphony No. 8 with nationalist laurels even though there is more pure nationalism in Brahms’s Triumphlied than in all of Dvořák.