Was Dvorak the first great American composer?

It’s a proposition that Joe Horowitz examines in close detail with a couple of radio pals here.

I’ve put it to one side for weekend listening, but there can be no doubt that America changed Dvorak – and for the better. Without his trip, there would have been no New World symphony and no cello concerto.

How much of America he morphed into music is the subject of Joe’s examination.

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  • The “american” quartet No 12 is also a top notch composition under yankee influency. I would not call him as an Americam composer. Handel lived many years in the UK, composing in local language. No one call him as a Uk composer, always german. There many examples like that. Chopin is always regarded as a Polish, not a french composer. Beethoven regarded as a german composer, not austrian, Stravinsky as a russian always, but never French or American etc.
    I think it is another Yankee temptative to make USA relevant during the XIX century. Not a good try now.

  • Having just read the following quote:

    “We began with a show challenging Ricardo Muti’s assertion that orchestras are better than ever, sampling amazing recordings from the thirties and forties, when orchestras were better than now.”

    I see little reason to read on.

  • Oh, goody! Let’s call Mahler an American composer too! Happy 157th birthday, Gustav . . . . America adores you!

      • So does someone who spends a lot of their life working in a country not of their birth automatically assume the nationality of the country of their work? Does that make Cherubini French? Or Boccherini or Domenico Scarlatti Spanish? or Kraus Swedish?

      • Why Brahms Requien is called “German”, but not “Austrian”. If it was about the same langague, so we can call a british composer as american. In this case Henry Purcell is the first Yankee composer.

        I does not make sense for me.

  • In the 19th century German speaking people living in the Hapsburg monarchy would have described themselves as German. A sense of being Austrian as a nationality separate from being German only dates from the 20th century (and especially post 1945). Hence Beethoven and Brahms were Germans living in Vienna, as were most other residents in Vienna.

  • I never think of Handel as German. His Italian influence was thorough, and his oeuvre is heavily slanted toward English culture. Only Germans would insist on that. If Dvorak had remained in America, he certainly would be American. But he did composer great American music, in any case. Lionel B. Davis was the first to research his stay in Spillville, Iowa. His thesis can be read in another version in Minnesota History magazine online. Iowa should have a Dvorak festival. He is still too-little performed.

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