8 Oct 2015

DVORAK: Symphony No 9, From the New World

From Music Alive, 7:30 pm on 8 October 2015
Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty Photo: Public Domain

I. Adagio – Allegro
II. Largo
III. Scherzo, molto vivace
IV. Allegro con fuoco

One of the great Czech composers of the nineteenth-century, it seems almost ironic that Dvořák's most famous composition, the Symphony No 9 'From The New World', is commonly understood as a celebration of the United States of America.

Throughout the three years he was based in America, the composer spoke extensively of his belief that any national American music would need to be based on the folk musics of the Native American people and of African American spirituals.

Eventually the composer began to feel uncomfortable with the extent to which his symphony was understood as containing ‘American’ music. Having championed its inclusion of traditional American folk songs, he
later asked a conductor to ‘Leave out the nonsense about my having made use of American melodies. I have only composed in the spirit of such American national melodies.’

'From The New World' was first performed on 19 December 1893 by the New York Philharmonic under the baton of Anton Seidl. It was universally declared a great success, with one critic writing, it was ‘the greatest symphonic work ever composed in this country.’