Douglas W. ShadleJun 11, 2021
Antonín Dvořák's New World Symphony
Oxford University Press 2021
Most music students have been taught that the New World Symphony was the first piece of classical music written in an American national style which Antonín Dvorák invented when he utilized influences from Black music in the second movement. The impression most textbooks leave is that this innovation was instantly approved by composers and critics alike, and that American classical music was born through Dvorak’s intervention. Like most myths, this bears only a slight resemblance to the truth. Douglas W. Shadle sets the record straight in Antonin Dvorak’s New World Symphony (Oxford University Press 2021). He tells the story of the symphony’s genesis and the controversy among critics and listeners over Dvorák’s ideas. Most importantly he delves deeply into the complex interactions between race and music that define the New World symphony and American musical identity.
Kristen M. Turner is a lecturer in the music and honors departments at North Carolina State University. Her research centers on race and class in American popular entertainment at the turn of the twentieth century.