Largo, Symphony No. 9, From the New World


Largo, Symphony No. 9, From the New World

As a part of “From Song Came Symphony” conductor Thomas Cunningham and the Urban Playground Chamber Orchestra perform "Largo," Symphony No. 9 "From the New World" (1893) by Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904). The movement is introduced by baritone Lawrence Craig in honor of Harry T. Burleigh's impact on Dvorak's composition of the symphony. 

The Czech-born composer Antonín Dvořák was a New Yorker from 1892–1895. He was invited to U.S. by Jeanette Thurber to head the nascent National Conservatory of Music and took up residence on East 17th Street. He brought immediate European cachet to the American compositional scene, but he also brought a foreigner’s perspective. Dvořák, unlike so many, recognized the importance of African American musics—especially the spiritual—and Native American musics. He was deeply impacted by Harry T. Burleigh, who was a student at the Conservatory while he was director. It was Dvorak’s listening to spirituals sung by Burleigh that inspired the melodic theme of this famous movement. Before the orchestra performs, baritone Lawrence Craig envokes Burleigh’s concert spiritual arrangement of “Deep River,” the song that launched the career of Craig’s mentor baritone William Warfield, as well as so many others. It was pieces like “Deep River” that inspired Dvorak to write his ninth symphony and incorporate melodic themes from American music traditions. In an interview with the New York Herald from May 21, 1893, Dvořák shared, “I am now satisfied that the future music of this country must be founded upon what are called the negro melodies. This must be the real foundation of any serious and original school of composition to be developed in the United States. When I first came here last year I was impressed with this idea and it has developed into a settled conviction.These beautiful and varied themes are the product of the soil. They are American.” This movement also appeared on the 1940 New York Philharmonic concert on which And They Lynched Him on a Tree was premiered. 

The concert took place on Wednesday, May 8th, 2019 at 7:30pm in the Langston Hughes Auditorium of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. 

Performance Venue: 

Langston Hughes Auditorium of the Schomburg Center for 

Research in Black Culture.


Dvorak, Antonin

Date of Composition: 


Performing Artists:

  • Thomas Cunningham, conductor

  • Lawrence Craig, baritone

  • Urban Playground Chamber Orchestra