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Classical 101

Dvorak's Fifth Symphony

It's said that Czech composer Antonin Dvorak found his own unique musical voice with his Symphony No. 5 in F.   You can decide for yourself this evening on Symphony @ 7, where it will be our featured work. The Fifth Symphony comes from 1875, the same year he wrote his lovely Serenade for Strings in E.  The first set of Slavonic Dances, which helped to propel Dvorak's popularity, were still several years away.  In his symphonies, he had been influenced by Beethoven, Schubert, then Wagner and Liszt, and finally, by Johannes Brahms, who became a mentor and friend. To be sure, Dvorak was also strongly influenced by the musical forms of his Bohemian homeland, and dance forms such as the Furiant and the Slavic Dumka would find their way into his music.  He became, like his older contemporary Bedrich Smetana, closely associated with the Czech Nationalist school of music. But the universal currents in Dvorak's music, and his growing fame, led him eventually to the United States, where he became music director at the newly formed National Conservatory of Music from 1892-1895. There he wrote his most famous work, Symphony No. 9 in E minor, From the New World. Along the way on his symphonic journey though, Dvorak seemed to reach a decisive point in his musical development with the Fifth Symphony.  Here, we begin to feel strongly the presence of Bohemia's forests and fields, along with the assured sense of form from Brahms' influence.  The Sixth Symphony (1880), would be even more indebted to Brahms, while 7,8,and 9 confirm Dvorak's mastery of form and originality by combining what he learned from others with his own genius. I hope you can join me on Symphony @ 7 for this pivotal work in the development of one of the great Romantic composers.  Here is the opening movement with Ricardo Muti conducting the Bavarian Radio Orchestra: http://youtu.be/pRokZq-uM2Q#t=01m23s