When I performed a whole Dvorak program in Bulgaria, I had to give a talk, and the moderator asked me the following question: Is Dvorak a great piano composer?
Over the past two decades I’ve been working on three of his major works: the “Poetic Tone pictures” op. 85, the Waltzes op. 54 and recently, the piano concerto.
The language Dvorak developed for the piano is unique, not only for its colors and harmonies (and incredible melodies) but also for his rhythmic developments and for his technical demands.
Surprisingly, learning Dvorak has developed my technical skills, as it demands a very correct approach to sound production, rhythmic accuracy and very unusual hand positions. In this way he is writing for the instrument, not just the music, but in an idiomatic way which explores new sounds that a piano can make.
My answer to the question is yes. Dvorak is a great piano composer, not just a great composer.
Watch my video of the first movement from the “Poetic Tone Pictures” op. 85:
Listen to some more audio files from this piece, live concert, Bulgaria 2012: