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February 2013
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Dvorak Manuscript

Title Page, Symphony No. 9 "From the New World"

Title Page, Symphony No. 9 "From the New World"

The New York Philharmonic This Week airs Thursday nights at 8:00 PM.

On December 15, 1893 Carnegie Hall opened its doors for a public rehearsal of a new symphony by Czech composer Antonin Dvorak.  With Anton Seidl on the podium, the New York Philharmonic gave the official premiere of the “New World Symphony” the following night.

The title page of the autograph manuscript (right) offers a fascinating snapshot into the composer’s mind at that time. Notice he listed the composition dates of all his symphonies at the left side of the page using the German nomenclature: “dur” meaning “major” and “moll” meaning “minor,” while the word “Cislo” is Czech for “number.” Dvorak omits the work we know as the Symphony No.1, a C minor Symphony, because he considered it an amateur work. The line scrawled in blue, which separates the D minor Symphony from the F Major Symphony delineates the published from the unpublished symphonies. The first four, including the C minor Symphony not listed here, were not published in the composer’s lifetime.  Notice that four of the later symphonies have the name “Simrock” beside them. Fritz Simrock was Brahms’s publisher. Brahms introduced Dvorak to Simrock. Dvorak notes the symphonies published by Simrock on this page. Beside the work we know as the 8th Symphony, a G Major Symphony, Dvorak notes that it was published by the London firm Novello. Finally he gives us a bilingual title: “Z noveho sveta,” “From the new world” (notice in Czech, only the first character of the title is capitalized, hence the lower case English).

The Symphony No.9, “From the New World” comes home to the New York Philharmonic this week on WFMT. The concert starts tonight at 8:00 PM.

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