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Dvorák was inspired by the new folk melodies that he was exposed to, but was able to incorporate them within his monumental 9th symphony's symphonic style brilliantly: 'It represents Dvorák's uncanny ability to both judge his audience accurately and continue the line of symphonic development that he had been pursuing all along on his own. There is no conflict of interest between these two goals.' [1]

Dvorák did not come to America to spoon-feed them a Eurocentric form of classical music. He did what came naturally and logically to him. He was asked to write based on his feelings and impressions of America, and he did so. He found that including the folk music of America was a natural step in representing the nation as a whole. There are several specific examples that have been cited by experts to prove that very point within the New World Symphony. In the exposition of the first movement, there are call and response melodies reminiscent of African American spirituals, and the melodies are said to be closely derived from the spiritual, Swing Low Sweet Chariot. The unforgettable largo contains probably the best and most famous English horn solo of any symphonic work. The melody is simple, yet filled with emotion and yearning. The melodies are drawn from classic Czech and Anglo American melodies, and the trio that follows sounds very similar to Over the River and Through the Woods, To Grandmother's House We Go. Dvorák also includes melodies inspired by Longfellow's epic Song of Hiawatha depicting a mystic Native American delivering his people from dark demons. [1]

In fact, the largo of The New World is, 'intended to remind us of the burial of Minnehaha, the companion of Hiawatha ... [and] Siedl, the first to conduct this section denoted the largo: "desolation of the prairie in the far west"'. [2]

Dvorák had the insight and the courage to create the music of people that many Americans did not want to pay attention to or even acknowledge as musical creators. He uses the pure emotion that is found within the music of the common people of many races within America to create his astonishing 9th symphony. The varying themes and colors represent all of the struggles, triumphs, and traditions of all Americans, and he connects them all with his own original and brilliant Romantic style.

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Copyright © 15 December 2007 Trevor W Barrett, California, USA


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