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By: Gina Cosgrove. Basic Information. Title: String Quartet No. 12 in F Major, “American”, Op. 96 Composer: Antonín Dvořák 1893 One of the most popular in the string quartet repertoire Served as a model for American composers. Search for the American Sound.

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basic information
Basic Information
  • Title: String Quartet No. 12 in F Major, “American”, Op. 96
  • Composer: AntonínDvořák
  • 1893
  • One of the most popular in the string quartet repertoire
  • Served as a model for American composers
search for the american sound
Search for the American Sound
  • 1892- Jeanette Thurber hires Dvořák as director of the National Conservatory of Music in NY
  • Main goal: to discover “American Music”
    • African American and Native American music
  • Winter/Spring 1893- New World Symphony
  • Summer 1893- “American” String Quartet
spillville iowa
Spillville, Iowa
  • Czech immigrant community
  • Spent summer vacation
  • Family and Friends
  • “I should never have written these works ‘just so’ if I hadn’t seen America”- Dvořák
  • Second Movement
    • African American Spiritual
    • Speculation
  • “The only American thing about the work is that it was written there”- Paul Griffiths (analyst)
  • “The specific American qualities of the so-called “American” Quartet are not so easily identifiable” -Lucy Miller (analyst)
  • Pentatonic Scale- open, simple character (associated with America)
  • Four movements
  • Instrumentation: 2 violins, viola, and cello
  • Tempo: varies from slow to fast
1 st movement allegro ma non troppo
1st Movement-Allegro ma non troppo
  • pentatonic first theme
  • open voiced triads (3rd of scale played octave higher)
  • pentatonic second theme with melismatic ornamentation (characteristic of gypsy and Czech music)
  • sonata form (exposition theme 1 and 2, development, recapitulation)
2 nd movement lento
2nd Movement- Lento
  • African American Spiritual/Native American Tune
  • pulsating harmony
  • pentatonic scale melody
3 rd movement molto vivace
3rd Movement- Molto vivace
  • spirited and dance like
  • off-beats and cross rhythms (ex. Eighth notes against triplets)
  • ABABA structure
  • B melody is A melody played in triplets at half tempo in minor (more lyrical and pulsated)
  • melody is said to be of the scarlet tanager
4th movement finale vivace ma non troppo
4th Movement- Finale: vivace ma non troppo
  • ABACABA (rondo)
  • syncopated rhythm
  • train-like pulse and drive
  • pentatonic melody A, more lyrical melody B, chorale theme C
music semiotics
Music Semiotics
  • Icon: first theme of third movement= scarlet tanager’s song, harmonic accompaniment of fourth movement= rhythm of a train
  • Index: chord progressions (I-IV-V-I) predictable cadences (song ends phrases predictably)
  • Symbol: open voiced triads= openness of America’s West
  • Influence of American folk music on Quartet:
    • Debatable
  • Influence of Quartet on American music:
    • Undeniable
    • “The extensive use of folk-songs in 20th century American music and the ‘wide-open-spaces’ atmosphere of ‘Western’ film scores may have at least some of their origins in Dvořák’s new American style”- George Butterworth (critic)
  • Influenced other American composers to enter quartet genre