Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Vienna Philharmonic: Dvořák's Symphony No. 9

The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra performs from the second movement of Antonin Dvořák Symphony No. 9 in E minor ("New World Symphony"), opus 95, Herbert von Karajan at the podium. The "New World" is as it always was, America.

Antonin Dvořák, a Czech composer of Romantic music, composed the symphony in 1893 during his time in the United States from 1892 to 1895, where he was the artistic director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York City. Jeannette Thurber, a wealthy music patron, brought Dvořák to America and to New York in particular. He was paid $15,000 a year, twenty-five times what he earned in Prague. It was a princely sum, in keeping with a high-minded purpose.

The expectation was that he would create a particularly American musical style. Dvorak didn't disappoint, writes "Dvořák took this last charge to heart. This inaugurated Dvořák's "American" phase, which produced his Ninth Symphony "From the New World," the String Quartet #12, the cantata The American Flag, and the String Quintet in Eb"

Dvořák returned to Europe and Prague in 1895, when the Thurber fortune was affected by the economic depression of the 1890s. The building housing the conservatory, located at 126-128 East 17th Street, was demolished in 1911 and is now a high school.

The home where Dvořák resided and wrote the symphony, a three-story Italianate style row house constructed in 1852, at 327 East 17th Street near Perlman Place, was also demolished, in 1991, to make room for an AIDS hospice.

The buildings connected to Dvořák 's history in New York City are gone, yet Dvořák's music remains.