Week Five
Dvorak in America
Major Musical Themes

African American Spirituals
Music to consider: Deep River, Go Down Moses & Swing Low Sweet Chariot
Antonin Dvorak learned about African American (“Negro”) Spirituals from Harry Burleigh.
Antonin Dvorak believed that “true” American music came from spirituals and plantation songs.
Harry Burleigh was a singer and arranger of African American spirituals.
Harry Burleigh was one of the first African Americans to sing spirituals in a concert or recital setting.
Antonin Dvorak’s “New World Symphony” (the first movement) was influenced by spirituals (Swing Low Sweet Chariot).
Native American Melodies
Music to consider: Omaha native music at the Library of Congress
Antonin Dvorak was also very interested in Native Americans and their music.
Antonin Dvorak spent time getting to know Native Americans when he spent the summer in Spillville, Iowa.
Antonin Dvorak had a special interest in the epic poem “Hiawatha” and had hoped to write an opera based on it, though that never happened.
Dvorak Compositions in America
Music to consider: Dvorak’s New World Symphony & Dvorak’s American Suite
Dvorak’s New World Symphony was influenced by spirituals and Native American music
Dvorak’s American Suite was composed during his summer spent in Spillville, Iowa.
Some people in the public thought that his music was not “American” but some people thought there were American themes in the music he composed here.
Antonin Dvorak’s “New World Symphony” (the first movement) was influenced by spirituals (Swing Low Sweet Chariot).
Antonin Dvorak’s “New World Symphony” (the second movement) was influenced by Native American melodies.