The piece Dvorak almost boycotted

EMERGING cello star and UWA Conservatorium of Music star Max Wung is set to dazzle audiences again at the Perth Redemptorist Monastery in North Perth on Saturday, November 18, at 2 pm and Fremantle Town Hall on Sunday, 19 November, at 3pm with the Fremantle Chamber Orchestra.

Under the guidance of associate professor Suzanne Wijsman since July 2019, Wung’s musical journey began in 2010 with mentors Rod McGrath and Xiaole Wu, who guided him to distinctions in the AMEB music exams.

Wung joined the Churchlands Senior High Symphony Orchestra as principal cellist in 2014 and later assuming the same role in its Chamber Orchestra. 

• Rising cellist Max Wung


His accomplishments includes performances with the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, invitations from the Vienna Pop Orchestra, and appearances on ABC3 TV’s BTN Extra. Wung has also honed his skills through masterclasses with renowned cellists like Lynn Harrell, Liwei Chin, and Pablo Ferrández.

In 2018, Wung participated in the WA Symphony Orchestra international artist masterclass, solidifying his reputation as a rising star. His international experiences include attending the National Arts Centre young artists program in Ottawa, Canada, and competing in the prestigious Ai Qin International Cello Competition, where he secured second prize.

Wung’s 2020 debut with WASO featured lauded performances of works by David Popper and Ernest Bloch. He also organised a successful fundraising concert to support Australian bushfire victims.

In 2021 an outstanding performance at the Brisbane International Youth Music Festival took him to  first prize in the strings category.

Wung will be playing Dvorak’s Cello Concerto, a piece whose public premiere was almost boycotted by the Czech composer.

Dvorak initially rejected the cello as a solo instrument, complaining it was  too nasally in its high registers and too mumbly in its lower. 

But on hearing the instrument sing through a concerto in New York, he changed his mind and wrote his own concerto, finishing it in 1895 and promising his good friend Hanus Wihan the opportunity to perform the first public performance.

But there was a clash of dates and over-eager publicists hired English cellist Leo Stern and started advertising the concert, prompting Dvorak to threaten a walk-out. Nobody knows exactly what happened, but it’s believed Wihan released Dvorak from his promise to allow the performance to go ahead; perhaps Stern playing only one of 60 cellos made by the famed Stradivarius helped mollify him..

Wihan eventually got his chance to perform under Dvorak’s baton in 1899 and despite the broken promise they remained firm friends for life.

If you miss the monastery performance, the orchestra will also be playing the concerto at the Fremantle Town Hall the following day.

Tickets are available from, 0438 933 250 or at the door.

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