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All about Dvorak's "New World" Symphony
Symphony number 9
Different people see it differently
Josef Schrabal
Listening to music is a personal experience. Obviously, different people see it and hear it differently. After hearing recently introduced masterpiece of Dvorak's New World symphony on the internet by the Carnegie Hall listening adventures it was a pleasure to be present at the Columbia University on Saturday, April 5th afternoon and compare slightly different view on the very same subject.

Within the Czech Cultural Studies Workshop 2002 sponsored by the Harriman Institute at Columbia University and the Department of Slavic Languages and Literature at the University of Michigan and the Graduate Student Advisory Council of Columbia University, a lecture by professor Michael Beckerman on "Is Dvorak's 'New World' Symphony Czech or American and Who Cares?

The speaker, professor of Musicology at the University of California at Santa Barbara, graduate from Columbia University in 1982, is certainly expert on the subject and specialist in Czech national music of the 19th century. His Dvorak and His World was published in 1993 and subsequently in 1994 Janacek as Theorist. He is recipient of the Janacek and Dvorak Medals from the Czech Republic and has conducted interviews with NPR, BBC, and PBS TV and lectures frequently for the San Francisco Symphony and Great Performances at NY Lincoln Center.

Expert versus expert

Just the beginning of the No. 9 symphony the two experts interpret differently. Dr. Beckerman hears similarity with other melodies while the Carnegie is imagining quite sailing of Dvorak over the ocean "The cogage was very pleasant on whole" until interruption by a storm. "The Master proved as an excellent sailor the whole day, it might be as stormy as you like, he walked up and down the deck." (Kovarik) Just listen to it !

Obviously the historical facts, such as Dvorak's life 1841 - 1904 are the same. Also how Jeanette Thurber, president and founder of the National Conservatory sent Dvorak a very short telegram on June 5th, 1891: "Would you accept director National Conservatory of New York October 1892 also lead six concerts of your work" as she was looking for a composer who could help America develop a national music, are the same. But the conclusions and remarks of Dr. Beckerman are not exactly identical with the Carnegie Prologue.

Definitely it was a very enjoyable and most interesting experience being present at this Music part of the Workshop 2002.

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