Jun 30, 2022
Bucolic. Sunny. Cheerful. Joyous. Folksy. Ebullient. Thrilling. These are all words that I found while researching Dvorak’s 8th symphony. Dvorak’s gift for writing the most gorgeous of melodies is on full display in his 8th symphony, a piece that has been charming listeners ever since its very first performances. It is, on its surface, an uncomplicated piece, bursting at the seams with melody after melody after melody, almost mirroring one of Brahms’ greatest one-liners, where he referred to his summer country home as a place where melodies were so heavily present thatt one had to be careful to avoid tripping on them! The overriding characteristic of this 8th symphony is joy, from its childlike key of G Major, to its raucous use of folk music, and even its smiling through tears slow movement.
Very often on this show I try to take pieces that are quite complicated and break them down for you to show you how to follow their twists and turns despite their complexities. But today, I’m going to do the opposite. Today, I’m going to take a piece that is, on its surface, quite simple, and I’m going to show you how this symphony is not quite as simple as it seems. It is a piece full of invention and of the scintillating energy of trying out new ideas. As Dvorak said, he would try to make this symphony ”different from the other symphonies, with individual thoughts worked out in a new way.” So today on the show we’re going to talk about how this symphony is different from other symphonies, and also how Dvorak constructs his chains of melodies that add up to the joyful whole of this piece, though tinged with the melancholy that is almost always present with Dvorak. Join us!