Nathalie Stutzmann leads Dvořák’s "New World" Symphony, alongside a rarity by Max Bruch
Join us on Sunday, July 16 at 1 p.m. on WRTI 90.1 and Monday, July 17 at 7 p.m. on WRTI HD-2 as The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert brings you a program of works by Max Bruch and Antonín Dvořák from the 2022/2023 season.
The Philadelphia Orchestra’s principal guest conductor, Nathalie Stutzmann, leads the Symphony No. 9 in E Minor by Dvořák, “From the New World.” This beloved symphony is both an expression of American influences on an established European composer, and a wellspring of inspiration for American composers and musicians as the 19th century gave way to the 20th.
Born in Bohemia, Dvořák had become famous throughout Europe by the time he received an offer from an American music patron to head a new conservatory of music in New York. During the two and a half years he spent in the United States, he penned several important works, including the “New World” Symphony. Dvořák came to America to teach, but he was also eager to learn, readily absorbing American influences. He was based in New York for the school year, but also spent a summer in a community of Czech immigrants on the Iowa prairie, where he witnessed displays of Native American music and dancing.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem The Song of Hiawatha made a big impression on the composer, and he also saw Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. At the conservatory, a young African-American student, Harry Burleigh, sang spirituals to Dvořák. Mere months after his arrival, Dvořák was hard at work on a major symphony, and made rapid progress. When the Symphony in E Minor premiered a few months later, it was a triumphant success, and reviewers approvingly noted Dvořák’s use of indigenous sources. The composer made no secret of his efforts to compose original melodies inspired by Native American and African American music. The famous English horn solo that opens the slow movement, though invented by Dvořák, so effectively evokes spirituals that one of his students set lyrics to it in the style of a spiritual. In that form the melody has become known as “Goin’ Home.”
This concert opens with a rarity by Max Bruch, the Concerto for Clarinet, Viola, and Orchestra in E Minor. Not unlike Dvořák’s “New World,” this concerto makes use of folk traditions — in this case, folksongs from Sweden. As Bruch once wrote to his publisher, “I would never have come to anything in this world if I had not studied the folk music of all nations with seriousness, perseverance, and unending interest.” The Philadelphia Orchestra’s performance of this Double Concerto features two of its longtime principals as soloists: clarinetist Ricardo Morales and violist Choong-Jin Chang. The Double Concerto is a late work — dating from 1911, when modernist currents were churning throughout Western classical music. But it could easily have been written a generation earlier: it has the same lyrical, Romantic beauty as Bruch’s more famous works written early in his career, notably the First Violin Concerto.
Bruch: Concerto for Clarinet, Viola, and Orchestra in e minor, Op. 88
Dvorak: Symphony No. 9 in e minor, Op. 98
The Philadelphia Orchestra
Nathalie Stutzmann, conductor
Ricardo Morales , clarinet
Choong-Jin Chang, viola
Listen to The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcasts every Sunday at 1 p.m. on WRTI 90.1, streaming at WRTI.org, on the WRTI mobile app, and on your smart speaker. Listen again on Mondays at 7 p.m. on WRTI HD-2. Listen for up to two weeks after broadcast on WRTI Replay.