Antonin Dvorak was a great Czech composer in the Romantic era of music. He is one of my favorite composers with his so many melodic compositions. His dramatic ninth symphony, “From The New World”, is no different with its multitude of wonderful melodies.
Paraphrasing information from Wikipedia re: Dvorak’s “New World Symphony”: This popular symphony was composed in 1893 while he was visiting America and was the director of the New York Conservatory. Dvorak was very interested in and influenced by the old “Negro spirituals” and Native American melodies. This ninth symphony, commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, is filled with melodies Dvorak studied from those original spirituals and melodies.
Yes this European gave a great melodic story of this beloved “New World” with his wonderful ninth symphony. When I first heard the first two movements of this symphony it was actually like listening to a beautiful story. A story from America, told in melodies instead of words.
Continuing from Wikipedia: “In 1893, a newspaper interview quoted Dvořák as saying “I found that the music of the Negroes [sic] and of the Indians was practically identical”, and that “the music of the two races bore a remarkable similarity to the music of Scotland”. Most historians agree that Dvořák is referring to the pentatonic scale, which is typical of each of these musical traditions.“
Dvorak, it is reported, stated: “I am convinced that the future music of this country must be founded on what are called Negro melodies. These can be the foundation of a serious and original school of composition, to be developed in the United States. These beautiful and varied themes are the product of the soil. They are the folk songs of America and your composers must turn to them.”
On a personal note, I first remember hearing the beginning of the final exciting movement of the New World Symphony, played many years ago on the broadcast every night of the Bobby Fischer/Boris Spasky chess championship in 1972 they showed on PBS. At that time I knew nothing of classical music, but I knew I loved that thrilling music and had to find out where it came from. Many years later when I finally became deeply interested in classical music I found out it came from the great Antonin Dvorak and his Symphony “From The New World.”
This very popular symphony is in E-minor with four movements: 1.Adagio – Allegro 2. Largo 3. Scherzo 4. Allegro con fuoco.
Note: while the final movement seems to be leading to a tremendous and loud crescendo, surprisingly and uniquely, it ends in a prolonged sweet soft note.
Please turn up the volume and enjoy this great Bohemian’s musical description from the New Word, America.
Antonin Dvorak: Symphony #9 in E minor, “New World Symphony”: