See biographical studies by G. Hughes (1967), J. Clapham (1966), V. Fischl, ed. (1943, repr. 1970), and M. B. Beckerman (2002).
The Symphony No. 9 in E Minor "From the New World" (Op. 95), popularly known as the New World Symphony, was composed by Antonín Dvořák in 1893 during his visit to the United States from 1892 to 1895. It is by far his most popular symphony, and one of the most popular in the modern repertory.
2 flutes (one doubling piccolo), 2 oboes (one doubling on cor anglais), 2 clarinets in A, 2 bassoons, 4 horns in E and C, 2 trumpets in E, C and E flat, 2 tenor trombones, bass trombone, tuba (second movement only), timpani, triangle (third movement only), cymbals (fourth movement only), and strings.
The symphony was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, and premiered on December 16, 1893 at Carnegie Hall (which was the home of the Philharmonic until 1962), conducted by Anton Seidl. A day earlier, in an article published in the New York Herald on December 15, 1893, Dvořák further explained how Native American music had been an influence on this symphony:
In the same article, Dvořák stated that he regarded the symphony's second movement as a "sketch or study for a later work, either a cantata or opera ... which will be based upon Longfellow's [The Song of] Hiawatha" (he never actually wrote such a piece). He also wrote that the third movement scherzo was "suggested by the scene at the feast in Hiawatha where the Indians dance".
Curiously enough, passages which modern ears perceive as the musical idiom of African-American spirituals may have been intended by Dvořák to evoke a Native American atmosphere. In 1893, a newspaper interview quoted Dvořák as saying "I found that the music of the negroes and of the Indians was practically identical", and that "the music of the two races bore a remarkable similarity to the music of Scotland". Most historians agree that Dvořák is referring to the pentatonic scale, which is typical of each of these musical traditions.
In a 2008 article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, prominent musicologist Joseph Horowitz asserts that African-american spirituals were a major influence on the 9th symphony, quoting Dvořák from an 1893 interview in the New York Herald as saying, "In the negro melodies of America I discover all that is needed for a great and noble school of music.
Despite all this, it is generally considered that, like other Dvořák pieces, the work has more in common with folk music of his native Bohemia than with that of the United States. Leonard Bernstein averred that the work was truly multinational in its foundations. Nonetheless, many have proclaimed that the spirit of this symphony is quintessentially American, and the multiculturalism of the work has been cited as supporting this, in harmony with the nature of America as a melting pot.