Like Mozart’s three last symphonies, Dvořák’s Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth pretty well overwhelm, in magnitude of achievement, what has come before. These were opus 70 in D minor, 1885; opus 88 in G major, 1889; and opus 95 in E minor, 1893, called “From the New World.” We like to claim, from this last work and from the composer’s sojourn in New York and Iowa, that Dvořák was internationalized in and by America.
The leisurely cello melody that begins the G-major Symphony does much to establish the bucolic character we associate with the work.(A similar sort of opening is found in Mendelssohn’s A-minor Symphony, the “Scottish”) Some momentum is established with the cheery flute solo; timpani and tuba begin an orchestral crescendo that leads first to another tenor phrase-this one for violas as well as cellos-and then to a brief tutti climax.But that is immediately deflected, and by the arrival of the second group the sonority has been transformed into the minor mode and an orchestration dominated byf
Within a few weeks of arriving in this country in the autumn of 1892, Dvořák was at work on a new symphony of “impressions and greetings from the New World”; it had been sketched by late spring 1893 and was completed during the Dvořáks’ summer holiday that year in Spillville.It is true that Dvořák had by that time heard and enjoyed various American folk musics, including that of black Americans, and that the second and third movement grew, according to the composer, from his ruminations on Hiawatha -the Largo possibly inspired by Minehaha’s funeral and the scherzo on an Indian dance describ
In an interview in the New York Herald Tribune just a few weeks before he wrote this quartet, Antonín Dvořák stated, “The future music of this country must be founded on what are called negro melodies.This must be the real foundation of any serious and original school of composition to be developed in the United States … I myself have gone to the simple, half-forgotten tunes of the Bohemian peasants for hints in my most serious work.” Both statements are applicable to the popular and richly evocative String Quartet No.12, which blends, to a remarkable degree, a clearly American musical idio
Note well the distant, brooding motive in the clarinets as this concerto opens, for the end of the last movement dissolves into a long reflection on the same material as though recasting its sinister qualities in an affirmative light.It is often held that the Cello Concerto reflects its composer’s longing for his homeland, and this may in part explain the choice of keys, the melancholy, and the tendency to return again and again to his woods-and-groves idiom.But these are, of course, constituents of Dvořák’s high style, homesick or no: what is exceptional about the work is its symphonic sco