February 9, 2021
Dvorak's Symphony No. 9, "From the New World," takes inspiration and musical cues from Spirituals and Native American music. His call to action for American composers to do the same was largely ignored. But who exposed this Bohemian to these American sounds, and why was he in the United States to begin with? We dive into the details and feature musical examples from the National Symphony Orchestra's latest recording with Maestro Noseda.
After graduating from the National Conservatory of Music of America, Harry Burleigh was hired as a soloist at St. George's Episcopal Church in New York City. He remained in this position for 52 years and helped create the annual Spirituals service starting in 1924 at St. George's Episcopal. Burleigh also once sang for King Edward VII in London in 1908.
She founded the National Conservatory of Music of America in 1885, a time when American musicians and composers were leaving for Europe to study. Unheard of in its time, the school was also racially integrated, accepted women, and people with disabilities. She also personally (and persistently!) sought out Dvorak to lead the conservatory.