Piece: Symphony No. 9 in E minor, "From the New World", op. 95, B. 178 (New World Symphony)
Composer: Antonín Dvořák
Premier: December 16, 1893, New York
I am slowly turning into my father. Much as we might try to avoid it, becoming our parents as we age is largely inevitable. My latest step in this steady march is my devotion to classical music radio. I've been a classical musician for most of my life but as a consumer craving distraction from the day-to-day, I have generally preferred pop music radio platforms: Adult Alternative, Adult Hits, Classic Rock, etc. Interestingly, it is my daughter who has pushed me in this direction. With all of her musical involvements, she's actually become a bit of a snob (he says with beaming pride). She will ask me to change the station when a particularly objectionable pop song comes on one of my other stations. Classical music seems to keep both of us happy.
Fortunately, Vermont Public Radio (VPR) has an excellent classical music station. It is now my default choice for the car and I have to admit that the switch feels like nothing short of a quality of life improvement.
Dvořák's New World Symphony has become one of my favorites in recent months. Apart from hearing it on the radio, we also got to see it performed live at our most recent Vermont Symphony concert. In composing the piece, the Czech master drew inspiration from both Native American and African American music as well as the wide open spaces of the American landscape. I am especially fond of the second movement, Largo, the melodic theme based on "Goin' Home," a spiritual-like song written by one of Dvořák's pupils, William Arms Fisher. The movement features one of the world's most famous English horn solos.
Now, if only Vermont had a jazz station...