Home » A Level Links & Resources » Development of the symphony » 1893 – Dvorak Symphony No. 9

1893 – Dvorak Symphony No. 9


1893 Antonin Dvorak Symphony No. 9 ‘New World’
Instrumentation Strings, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani (triangle and cymbals)
Movements I: Adagio – Allegro Molto (e) II: Largo (Db) III: Scherzo: Molto vivace (e) IV: Allegro ma non troppo (e – E)
Overview The Czech composer Dvorak’s Ninth Symphony was written whilst he was living and working in America. The subtitle has encouraged audiences and scholars to seek out the influence of American and Afro-American folk music in the symphony and many contemporaries felt that the Czech had somehow shown US composers how to incorporate such influences into their musical language. The famous second movement was used in a Hovis advert in the 80s and the work has been a Classic FM staple ever since.


See the full score / Watch on Youtube

A) Overall form [and E)  Last movements] In the last movement Dvorak incorporates music from the previous three, particularly at the end where there are a succession of loose quotations from previous movements leading into the final repetition of the main finale theme.


Allegro from the first movement:

Opening of second movement:

Opening of third movement:

Opening of fourth movement:

NOW, listen to where all these themes appear during the ending:

D) second movements The second movement is slow and nostalgic and starts with an extraordinary chord progression the modulates to the Db major of the main idea. The subsequent theme for Cor Anglais is very soulful and reminiscent of spirituals:
The middle section is a bit more lively:
G) Harmony / Tonality Dvorak’s tonal language is broadly traditional, but the music has many modal inflections (like the flattened seventh in the main theme of the last movement) recalling the various folk music it draws upon. In addition Dvorak’s music often include surprising modulations and the introduction to the slow movement, which modulates to Db major from E minor through a very unusual chord sequence is a good example of this.
K) Rhythm There syncopated rhythms of the main theme of the first movement is common to many folk tradition, although he had Afro-American and native American music in mind when he composed this work.


L) Folk music

The music is full of modal inflections, like the flattened seventh in the main theme of the last movement:

There are also many syncopations (as in the Allegro in the first movement) that could loosely be inspired by almost any folk tradition, including that of Dvorak’s native Czechoslovakia and/or the Afro-American and native American music that the composer undoubtedly heard a great deal of during his stay.

%d bloggers like this: