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Dvorak in New York Jeannette M. Thurber Jeannette M. Thurber (1850 - 1946), wife of a wholesale grocer English-language opera company failed - cost 1.5 million The National Conservatory of Music in America, founded by Jeannette Thurber in 1885 to encourage an indigenous musical culture.

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Dvorak in New York

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jeannette m thurber
Jeannette M. Thurber
  • Jeannette M. Thurber (1850 - 1946), wife of a wholesale grocer
  • English-language opera company failed - cost 1.5 million
  • The National Conservatory of Music in America, founded by Jeannette Thurber in 1885 to encourage an indigenous musical culture.
  • Dvorak becomes director in 1892 and remained until 1895
  • The annual salary, $15,000, was about 25 times what Dvorák was making as an instructor at the Prague Conservatory (equal to $250000 today)
  • Dvorak produces 2 of his greatest works while in the United States: the “American” String Quartet and Symphony No. 9 in E minor, “From The New World”
the national conservatory
The National Conservatory
  • In 1892, there was no such thing as “American” classical music.
  • Jeannette Thurber, president of the National Conservatory, longed for a more distinctively American style, and thought Dvorák might be the right man to show the way to it.
  • Dvorak said:“The Americans expect great things of me. I am to show them the way into the Promised Land, the realm of a new, independent art, in short a national style of music! . . . This will certainly be a great and lofty task, and I hope that with God’s help I shall succeed in it.”
the national conservatory4
The National Conservatory
  • Dvorák promptly immersed himself in American folk idioms, including black spirituals and Indian music, and within a year of his arrival he produced the Ninth Symphony in E Minor, Op. 95, “From the New World.” This became the first and most successful of a series of pieces composed in the U.S.
  • Antonín Dvorák directed the Conservatory from 1892 to 1895,.
  • Andrew Carnegie acted as president of a thirty-nine-member board, and Theodore Thomas contributed $20,000 annually to its American Opera Company
the national conservatory5
The National Conservatory
  • Talented students under the age of twenty-four and of any race paid no tuition, and those charged paid very little.
  • Thurber appealed to Congress for $200,000 but received the same response that New England Conservatory had gotten when it applied to the state of Massachusetts for aid.
  • In both cases the bills died as it was considered un-American for the government to support the arts. (Thurber pointedly noted that the government supported the U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Military Academy, both private schools.)
  • The contrast between state support of conservatories in Europe and U.S. hostility to public funding for the arts remains the largest single difference between music schools on the two continents.
dvorak and the new world
  • Lived on East 17th Street near Stuyvesant Park
  • Drafts of first three movements of the New World Symphony were complete by mid-January, 1893
  • Went to Spillville, Iowa in the summer of 1893 and completed the symphony there on May 24, 1893
  • Dvorak admonished American composers to draw from their own background (meaning the music of American Indians and Black Americans) for inspiration

“It is very strange here. Few people and a great deal of empty space. A farmer’s neighbor is often four miles off. Especially in the prairies there are endless acres of field and meadow and that is all you see. . . . it is very “wild” here, and sometimes very sad—sad to despair.”

dvorak and the new world symphony
  • This Symphony contains not a single American folk tune
  • Dvorak said (New York Herald, December 15, 1893 “Since I have been in this country I have been deeply interested in the national music of the Negroes and the Indians. The character, the very nature of a race is contained in its national music. For that reason my attention was turned at once in the direction of these native melodies. . . I have not actually used any of these melodies. I have simply written original themes embodying the peculiarities of the music. . .”
dvorak and the new world symphony9
  • “The second movement is a largo. But it is different from the classic works in form. It is in reality a sketch for a longer work, either a cantata or an opera which I propose writing, and which will be based on Longfellow’s “Hiawatha”.”
  • the symphony created a sensation at its premiere in Carnegie Hall (12/16/93)
  • it became one of the most popular symphonies ever written by 1904 (the year of Dvorak’s death)
  • Largo from Symphony No. 9 in E minor, op. 95
carnegie hall
Carnegie Hall
  • Opening Night was May 5. 1891. The performer was pianist Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
  • The concert hall was jammed full of New Yorkers.
  • Architect Tuthill was worried about this he did not believe that the steel columns could hold the massive weight of all of the people. Tuthill left during the performance so he could examine the blueprints of the building.
  • Carnegie Hall remained standing that night and is still standing today. It is still one of the most important structures in all of New York
well known students of antonin dvorak
Well-Known Students of Antonin Dvorak
  • Some of Dvorak’s students at the National Conservatory
    • Rubin Goldmark
      • 1872–1936, a pupil of Dvorak in New York, teacher of George Gershwin and Aaron Copland, a composer and educator. From 1924 to 1936 he was chairman of the composition department at the Juilliard School of Music. His works include Hiawatha Overture (1899) and A Negro Rhapsody (1923)
    • Harvey Worthington Loomis 1865 - 1930
      • Lyrics of the Red Men
    • William Arms Fisher 1861 - 1948
      • a music historian
well known students of antonin dvorak12
Well-Known Students ofAntonin Dvorak
  • Harry Thacker Burleigh (1866-1949) was a black American composer and singer.
  • He did much to preserve and popularize black folk melodies and was one of the first people to sing black spirituals on the concert stage.
  • Burleigh arranged more than 100 folk songs, including "Deep River" and "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen."
  • He was strongly influenced by the nationalism of the Czech composer Antonin Dvorak.
  • Burleigh was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, and won the Spingarn Medal in 1917.
  • Till I Wake