The 9th Symphony of the Czech composer Antonín Dvorák marks both the climax and the end of his symphonic work. His most famous and popular work was composed between December 1892 and May 1893 and premiered at Carnegie Hall in New York on December 16, 1893.
Because of its subtitle "New World Symphony", it triggered a multitude of legends that seemingly cannot be eradicated. Some people think that the symphony is essentially shaped by melodies that Dvorák learned in America. The title is by no means to be understood as a programmatic explanation of the music, but rather as a title spontaneously added by Dvorák, which according to his friend Kovarík means nothing more than "impressions and greetings from the New World".
The native Bohemian first came to the United States in September 1892, following an invitation from New York millionaire Jeanette Thurber, who founded the National Conservatory for Music in 1885. She presented Dvorák with a financially and artistically attractive two-year contract for eight months a year as a composition teacher and orchestra conductor. After lengthy hesitation, the composer accepted the offer. The many-sided activities and tasks in New York kept him away from composing at first. It was not until the Christmas season of 1892 that he found the necessary rest. He quickly designed the sketches for a new symphony.
At the same time, Dvorák was under considerable pressure to succeed, since the symphony was his first work composed in America, and he only had to prove his abilities. "American" is not the melodic material used, but only the atmosphere of American black and Indian music, which Dvorák brought to life through specific characteristics in his work.
The slow movement, the Largo, is probably the most famous movement that was initially entitled "Legend" by the composer. The English horn plays a melody in which the endless distance and the expanses of the prairie become clear. The movement is without doubt one of the composer's most beautiful and moving works.