How to Build a Classical CD Collection

7. Dvoják: New World Symphony & Symphonic Variations

In the later 19th century there was a development of nationalism throughout Europe. A leading expression of musical nationalism came to fruition in Bohemia, then part of the Habsburg Empire. There Smetana busied himself with the creation of a Czech national opera, and Dvoják, who earned his living at first as a viola-player under Smetana's baton in the Prague opera orchestra, carried still further the synthesis between classical forms and the music of Bohemia. The ninth of his symphonies, with the title From the New World, was written during the composer's time in the United States, where he had been recruited to encourage the development of a national American musical language. His New World Symphony seems at times to echo American spirituals and was certainly influenced by Dvoják's own reading of Longfellow's epic of American Indian life, Hiawatha. At the same time its themes seem equally at home in Bohemia. The Symphonic Variations, a much earlier work, treat with ingenuity a particularly intractable Bohemian folk-song.

Recommended recording
Dvoják: Symphony No. 9 "From the New World" & Symphonic Variations, with the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra under Stephen Gunzenhauser. Naxos 8.550271

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