Czech composer Antonin Dvořák came to the United States to be director of the New York National Conservatory of Music for three years in the 1890s. In the summer of 1893, he chose to spend a vacation in Spillville, Ontario. Iowa, where many Czech immigrants had come to live. It was there that he finished his Ninth Symphony, also known as the “New World Symphony”.
At the time, most American composers still wrote in a style inspired by Brahms and Beethoven. Dvořák recognized a wealth of material which was inspired by black spirituals. And he wanted to incorporate music from wherever he traveled in the United States, which included spirituals, music from Indigenous people, and folk melodies. He was in love with the expression of emotion and the use of harmony, rhythm and melody.
Dvořák wrote: “The future of this country must be based on what are called Negro melodies. It is the real foundation of any school of serious and original composition to be developed in the United States.
Dvorak embodied his own philosophy in his Symphony No. 9 “From the New World” which is performed to Colorado audiences not once or twice, but three times over the next several weeks. And this is just a coincidence! CPR Classical wanted to know… why now?
“We always like to go there. Dvořák’s Ninth is a great piece to come back to more than any other staple in our repertoire, ”said Nicholas Tisherman, Colorado Symphony oboist at CPR Classical. “At times like these, we’re so happy to be performing on stage. I think it’s the perfect choice and it was a sure bet when planning the season, ”Tisherman said.
Tisherman will perform the Symphony’s Ninth Symphony “Prelude Talks” ahead of this weekend’s performances. He wants listeners to know that the appeal of the New World Symphony lies in the use of themes and melodies throughout the orchestra. “There is just something special. It was one of the first full symphonies that I played as a young musician when I was 12 or 13 years old. ” he says.
The Jefferson Symphony Orchestra will also perform the New World Symphony on October 17 with conductor William Morse.
“There is a uniqueness in Dvořák’s use of melodies and for an audience it is very appealing,” says Morse. He distinguishes the second movement which contains the famous English horn solo and resonates throughout the symphony. “Dvořák originally had a faster tempo in mind and after hearing some conductors perform the piece, he lowered the tempo,” he explains.
“Dvořák has a way of attracting you and taking you on a musical journey. He will use more themes than most composers in a symphonic form, ”says Morse. Morse explains why his orchestra chose the Ninth Symphony now. “The title ‘New World’ has the traditional connotation of the new country and now you think of ‘new’ and ‘world’ in a contemporary context, hopefully out of something … a new beginning so to speak. “
It was an easy choice for Jacinda Bouton to bring Dvořák’s Ninth to the desks of her ensemble and to the delight of the spectators. “The power of music is extraordinary. It can help a group of patrons and musicians come together to get away from everyday worries, suspending that stress and allowing them to take a journey of beauty, joy, and hope for better things to come.
Bouton will conduct the Lone Tree Symphony Orchestra in Dvořák’s Ninth on October 1. “The New World Symphony represents the hope and resilience of the American people,” she said. “After eighteen months without a live performance, it’s time to celebrate the ability to come together to hear and play music live. I can’t think of a better piece to express the joy of going through such a difficult time together.
Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, “From the New World” arrives in Colorado: