Dvořák’s Symphony <i>From the New World</i>

Maurice Peress

in Dvorák to Duke Ellington

Published in print April 2004 | ISBN: 9780195098228
Published online May 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780199869817 | DOI:
Dvořák’s Symphony From the New World

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This chapter starts with Dvorák's witnessing of the exuberant festivities for the 400th anniversary of Columbusás landing in the New World only a few days after his arrival and his first concert appearance. It is here that Dvorák often hears Negro Spirituals sung by his new assistant, Harry T. Burleigh, as he composes a new Symphony. Dvorák explicitly announces that his “newly completed symphony reflects the Negro melodies, upon which ... the coming American school must be based ... will be a surprise to the world”. He carefully signs his completed score and dates it, “Fine, Praised be to God! May 24, 1893, at nine in the morning”. In an unusual gesture, Dvorák returns to the score later that day to add a euphoric note, “Family arrives at Southhampton! (telegram l:33)”. Famous American and European musicians react to Dvorák's “negro music idea”. After that, the Dvoráks leave by train for their summer vacation in a small Czech speaking farm community in Spillville, Iowa. En route they stop in Chicago to visit the Fair.

Keywords: Harry T. Burleigh; Negro Spirituals; Columbus Day; Spillville; Chicago

Chapter.  3788 words. 

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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