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Music with Ease > Classical Music > Concert Guide: Nationalist Era > Symphony No. 5 in E Minor. Op. 95 ("From the New World") - Dvorák


Symphony No. 5 in E Minor. Op. 95 ("From the New World")

Antonín Dvorák
(1862-1918)



1. Adagio.
2. Allegro molto.
3. Larghetto.
4. Scherzo molto vivace.
5. Allegro con fuoco.

Dvorák's Fifth Symphony is one of peculiar interest, not only because of its intrinsic beauties and excellences, but also because it is in one sense a tribute to America by its utilization of Negro melodies in the thematic treatment. After an expressive introduction, the first theme is given out by the horns and shortly the New World character of the work is illustrated by a rollicking passage for flutes and oboes, followed by a theme for flute with subdued string accompaniment, which every one will recognize as borrowed from the Negro jubilee melody, "Swing low, sweet Chariot." The remainder of the movement is devoted to a conventional but most unique and complicated working up of these simple thematic materials.

After a short introduction for woodwinds and brasses a most bewitching melody is given to the English horn in the second movement accompanied by muted strings. Its loveliness and pathos can hardly be overstated. After a repetition of much of the introduction the beautiful melody returns and is soon followed by a more resonant theme for flutes and oboes. This in turn is succeeded by some complicated development leading up to the conclusion, the "swan song" of which is the beautiful melody already referred to, which seems even more beautiful in its new setting.

The Scherzo is in the usual form, and besides its own themes contains reminiscences of the first movement. The last movement not only deals with its own materials but those of all the other movements, including the beautiful horn theme of the second, and closes a symphony which, if not as orthodox as some of its predecessors, is yet full of beauty and deservedly a favorite.





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