When Antonín Dvorák first submitted a number of compositions in 1874 to qualify for a state stipendium, Eduard Hanslick, an influential music critic, but also a member of the assessment committee, was pleasantly surprised. Dvorak was awarded the grant and could spend all his time on composing. In the next years he again applied for the grant, and it was again awarded. When he appliedin 1877, he even received a personal letter from Hanslick, advising the young composer to get in touch with Johannes Brahms, who had been a member of the committee for several years. Brahms held Dvor?ák’s work in high regard and wanted to meet him.
They indeed met shortly afterwards and soon became good friends. Brahms brought Dvorák in contact with other composers, publishers and famous musicians. One of them was the renowned violinist Joseph Joachim, a good friend of Brahms for many years. Dvorák was invited to the Joachim home in Berlin, where he was cordially received. The violinist even organised a home concert for the first performance of Dvorák’s String Sextet and the Tenth String Quartet. The two men talked at great length, and Dvorák spoke of the violin concerto which he had recently started to compose. Joachim, who had not long before played the premiere of Brahms’s Violin Concerto, responded with enthusiasm. Dvorák spent the next few months labouring over the concerto and sent it to Joachim in the autumn of 1879.