Now’s Where I Get All Cultural On Y’all
Because we’re gonna do some classical music here.
You people ever heard of a cat named Antonin Dvorak? He was a Czech. Actually, back in his day there really weren’t Czechs, because what’s now the Czech Republic was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Where Dvorak came from was Bohemia.
So he was a Bohemian. And since he did music, that all fits.
Thing is, in Dvorak’s day he was a really big deal. He wrote a ton of operas and symphonies and he was one of the biggest stars of all the composers in the late 19th century.
And what was cool about Dvorak was that from 1892-95, he made his way to America. And while he was here he composed the symphony you can hear below. It was his 9th, and it’s most commonly known as the New World Symphony. He wrote it in 1893.
Dvorak picked up a student when he was in America, Harry Burleigh – who was one of the first black composers in America. Burleigh’s stuff was pretty cool, too – he wrote a bunch of Christian hymns and art songs – so much so that in the 1910’s and 1920’s his stuff was everywhere the way Michael Jackson’s stuff was everywhere in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
And Burleigh learned a lot of that from Dvorak – though Dvorak picked up a lot of the Negro spiritual stuff from hearing Burleigh sing to him.
Anyhow, Dvorak is kind of a cool example of a music guy who came from Europe, brought his European style with him, and before long found himself influenced by American music and took that with him even when he left. You might say he was kinda like U2 was 100 years later when they showed up as an Irish rock band and ended up covering BB King songs. Or if you’d rather, Eric Clapton, who came up as an English rock guy and ended up being more about blues than anything else.
But you don’t need me to play U2 or Eric Clapton for you. You know that stuff already. You might not know my guy Dvorak. So here’s his New World Symphony, in all four movements.
The best one’s the 2nd one, I think. It’s purty. It’s as easy on the ears as any of Beethoven’s stuff is. The other movements sound a lot like a lot of other classical composers flexin’ their muscles; it’s good, but it doesn’t stand out.
That 2nd movement, though. You can just feel this guy toolin’ around 19th century America on a train and seein’ the countryside of this great country for the first time when you hear it.