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New World Symphony

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Title: New World Symphony  
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Subject: Miss Texas, Rain of a Thousand Flames, As Time Goes By (Harpers Bizarre album), Sutherland Brothers, Ralph Sauer, William Arms Fisher, Michael Gandolfi, Eugene Izotov, The Face of Australia, Luciano Chessa
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New World Symphony

"New World Symphony" and "From the New World" redirect here. For the Miami-based orchestra, see New World Symphony (orchestra). For other uses, see From the New World (disambiguation).

The Symphony No. 9 in E minor, From the New World, Op. 95, B. 178 (Czech: Symfonie č. 9 e moll „Z nového světa“), popularly known as the New World Symphony, was composed by Antonín Dvořák in 1893 while he was the director of the National Conservatory of Music of America from 1892 to 1895. It is by far his most popular symphony, and one of the most popular in the romantic repertoire. In older literature and recordings this symphony is often indicated as Symphony No. 5. Neil Armstrong took a recording of the New World Symphony to the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission, the first Moon landing, in 1969.[1]


This symphony is scored for an orchestra of the following :


1. Adagio – Allegro molto
File:Antonin Dvorak - symphony no. 9 in e minor 'from the new world', op. 95 - i. adagio - allegro molto.ogg

2. Largo
File:Antonin Dvorak - symphony no. 9 in e minor 'from the new world', op. 95 - ii. largo.ogg

3. Scherzo: Molto vivace
File:Antonin Dvorak - symphony no. 9 in e minor 'from the new world', op. 95 - iii. molto vivace.ogg

4. Allegro con fuoco
File:Antonin Dvorak - symphony no. 9 in e minor 'from the new world', op. 95 - iv. allegro con fuoco.ogg

Problems playing these files? See media help.

The piece has four movements:

  1. Adagio, 4/8Allegro molto, 2/4, E minor
  2. Largo, common time, D-flat major, then later C-sharp minor
  3. Scherzo: Molto vivace – Poco sostenuto, 3/4, E minor
  4. Allegro con fuoco, common time, E minor, ends in E major


Dvořák was interested in Native American music and the 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.[4]

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.[5]

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"[6] (Dvořák never actually wrote such a piece).[6] He also wrote that the third movement scherzo was "suggested by the scene at the feast in Hiawatha where the Indians dance".[6]

Curiously enough, passages that 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".[7][8] Most historians agree that Dvořák is referring to the pentatonic scale, which is typical of each of these musical traditions.[9]

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."[10]

Despite all this, it is generally considered[by whom?] 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.[11]


At the symphony's premiere the reception was one of perpetual cheering. The end of every movement was met with thunderous clapping and Dvořák felt obliged to stand up and bow .

Several themes from the symphony have been used widely in films, TV shows, anime, video games, and advertisements such as the campaign for Hovis bread during the 1970s and 1980s in the UK.

The song "Goin' Home"

The theme from the Largo was adapted into the spiritual-like song "Goin' Home", often mistakenly considered a folk song or traditional spiritual, by Dvořák's pupil William Arms Fisher, who wrote the lyrics in 1922.[12][13] Dvořák himself may have modelled the tune on the spirituals written by composer Harry Burleigh, whom he met during his sojourn in America.[14][15][16]


Further reading

External links

  • Symphony No. 9: Free scores at the International Music Score Library Project
  • Score from Indiana University
  • Score from Mutopia Project
  • Free recording by the Columbia University Orchestra
  • YouTube
  • True Story of "Goin' Home" – From Bohemia to Boston
  • Lyrics and Discussion on "Going Home"
  • MP3 format
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