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The Weekend Vote weekend: Dvorak's New World Symphony, what is your favorite movement?

November 17, 2007 at 1:02 AM

Next week, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, and in honor of that holiday I'd like to dedicate this week's vote to Dvorak's New World Symphony.

As an American, I really feel Dvorak got it right, that this work laid the groundwork for expressing an American sound through a European medium, the symphony orchestra, which by now is an American medium as well.

I first played this piece in high school, or maybe junior high. It is often one of those early pieces that a violinist plays in youth orchestra. As such, one perhaps starts dismissing it. Not this overplayed symphony, that I've been playing since I was 12!

Yet every time I hear the sorrowful strains at the very beginning of this symphony's first movement, it sucks me right in.

The second movement is the movement that reaches my core, as an American. Though Dvorak only made it as far west as Iowa, this music takes me not only to the great plains, but also to the high plains, to the pristine parts of Colorado I saw as a child, to the Navajo territory of the southwest. (Here is the second part of that recording of the Largo).

The third movement is a great romp, with triangle. Unless it's played all on the guitar, OMG!

And as far as music to just plow into as a violin section, who can beat the fourth movement?

What is your favorite movement? Or have you just heard or played this piece so many times that you can't go there?

From Mara Gerety
Posted on November 17, 2007 at 2:35 AM
Add an option for "I can't decide between movements because I like the whole piece." :-)

I know it's overplayed, but still a damn good symphony...everybody needs to hear the recording conducted by Ferenc Fricsay--best I've heard!

From Thomas Vu
Posted on November 17, 2007 at 4:49 AM
I will have to agree w/ Maura. I actually thought about this recently. I cant decide either! I love the whole thing。
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on November 17, 2007 at 5:31 AM
I voted for the first movement, but to be perfectly honest, I chose it because I love the way Karajan and the Vienna Philharmonic play it. There are so many intense moods, so clearly and vividly presented, one after another. I like the visual aspect of the video, too. It likes like it was done by someone who understands music. Thanks for posting it.
From Anne Horvath
Posted on November 17, 2007 at 4:29 PM
I always appreciate the fact that Dvorak gave the 2nd violins lots of fun stuff to play!
From Christopher McGovern
Posted on November 17, 2007 at 4:58 PM
I always loved the Largo in particular, especially after I heard it unabridged for the first time (I had this greatest hits collection on LP for years that featured a 4-min version of the 2nd mvt), but I really enjoy the whole piece. Glad it's on the Pope's 80th Birthday DVD!
From Ruth Kuefler
Posted on November 17, 2007 at 10:57 PM
All the movements are amazing - I agree with the general trend of 2 and 4 being the best. You just can't beat that beautiful theme in the Largo and the last movement is so thrilling! We wrote a little on this symphony for an assignment in music theory this semester. The thing that struck me as I was re-listening to it was how it sounded almost Hollywood. Dvorak really knows how to create musical drama.
From Thomas Vu
Posted on November 18, 2007 at 2:43 AM
Yes! my favorite is currently on the Hilary Hahn on the Pope's b-day.
From Richard Hellinger
Posted on November 18, 2007 at 3:54 AM
Like Dvorak's New world Symphony (9th) but my fave is the 4th movement of his 8th symphony!
From Ben Clapton
Posted on November 18, 2007 at 8:26 AM
It's gotta be the last movement for me. From the very start (We all know John Williams Stole it for Jaws...) through to the fantastic coda, and the way he links all the themes into the last movement. Just fantastic
From Stephen Brivati
Posted on November 18, 2007 at 10:31 PM
I@ve been `playing` this symphony since I was ten whihc scares the prunes out of me. I wish it wan`t given to such young orchestras much of the time . I consider it to be a highly deceptive piece tha of all the Dvorak symphonies I think this one requires the highest level of skill from the orchestra. What I mean by this is that becaus eit is so beautiful in so many places players/condcuters can let so much detail slide. But , as you know, the same passages reoccur so often with one step difference in dynamic or a slight difference in articulation and to get all the detial of thiw work right is a -major- undertaking taking a lot of rehearsals. Somehting that alas, all too frequently are not allowed becuas eit is assumed everyone knows the `Ne wWorld.`
From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on November 19, 2007 at 12:01 PM
I'm glad it's given to young orchestras at least some of the time. I played it in high school, which was my first and only opportunity to do so. It was really well received, the audience loved it, especially the 4th movement (the one I voted for). I think it is one of those pieces that can move a young orchestra to rise to the occasion.
From Terri Bora
Posted on November 19, 2007 at 1:30 PM
I vote the 4th. I saw a Drum Corps play this. The 4th was chilling (yes I said Drum Corps) It was 1989 Phantom Regiment of Rockford Illinois. I was in HighSchool and I went to find the "real piece" at the library. I also love his 8th symphony last mvt is thrilling also.
From Karin Lin
Posted on November 19, 2007 at 6:30 PM
"Music to plow into" is such a great description of the 4th movement! That's got my vote.
From Oliver Bedford
Posted on November 20, 2007 at 2:28 AM
Yes, the 4th movement really gets my hair standing on end and sends shivers down my legs !

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