Antonín Dvořák - Symphony No. 9,
Antonín Dvořák spent the years between 1892 - 1895 working in America as the Director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York. It was during this time that he wrote Symphony No. 9, "From the new World". This symphony was the one that brought him the most resounding success in 1893 when it was first performed. He was sending "notes" back to his friends and famiy in Czechoslovakia from the New World, America.
The Symphony No. 9 in E Minor "From the New World", Op. 95, B. 178, popularly known as the New World Symphony, was composed by Antonín Dvořák in 1893 during his visit to the United States from 1892 to 1895. It is by far his most popular symphony, and one of the most popular in the modern repertoire. In older literature and recordings this symphony is often indicated as Symphony No. 5
Dvořák was interested in the Native American music and African-American spirituals he heard in America. Upon his arrival in America, he 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."
The symphony was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, and premiered on December 16, 1893, at Carnegie Hall conducted by Anton Seidl. A day earlier, in an article published in the New York Herald on December 15, 1893, Dvořák further explained how Native American music had been an influence on this symphony:
"I have not actually used any of the [Native American] melodies. I have simply written original themes embodying the peculiarities of the Indian music, and, using these themes as subjects, have developed them with all the resources of modern rhythms, counterpoint, and orchestral colour."
In the same article, Dvořák stated that he regarded the symphony's second movement as a "sketch or study for a later work, either a cantata or opera ... which will be based upon Longfellow's [The Song of] Hiawatha" (Dvořák never actually wrote such a piece). He also wrote that the third movement scherzo was "suggested by the scene at the feast in Hiawatha where the Indians dance".
Curiously enough, passages which modern ears perceive as the musical idiom of African-American spirituals may have been intended by Dvořák to evoke a Native American atmosphere. In 1893, a newspaper interview quoted Dvořák as saying "I found that the music of the negroes 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.
In a 2008 article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, prominent musicologist Joseph Horowitz asserts that African-american spirituals were a major influence on the ninth symphony, quoting Dvořák from an 1893 interview in the New York Herald as saying, "In the negro melodies of America I discover all that is needed for a great and noble school of music."
Despite all this, it is generally considered that, like other Dvořák pieces, the work has more in common with folk music of his native Bohemia than with that of the United States. Leonard Bernstein averred that the work was truly multinational in its foundations.
The anthem of the Bureau of International Expositions was extracted from the starting part of the fourth movement of the symphony.
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