08 September 2023

P.R. Jenkins

Spotlight Dvořák: Symphony “From the New World”

It was the second symphony that Karajan ever recorded and the second-ever recording he made with the Berlin Philharmonic in 1940 – Dvořák’s ninth symphony “From the New World”.

Karajan conducted it 46 times between 1937 and 1985 with all of “his” orchestras: Städtisches Orchester Aachen, Staatskapelle Berlin, Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Vienna Symphony, Philharmonia, Scala di Milano. He also chose this possibly most popular of all symphonies for rare or unique encounters (such as with the Swedish Radio Orchestra in 1938 and the Czech Philharmonic in 1971).

Karajan was quite selective with Dvořák‘s oeuvre. Among the symphonies he only conducted the Eighth and the Ninth but those with constant enthusiasm.

The “New World” was one of the five pieces he filmed with the brilliant director Henri-Georges Clouzot in 1966. Together they made it into a classic concert film. Glenn Gould, not generally known as a fan of Dvořák’s, praised the “atmosphere of rehearsal-like spontaneity, a rehearsal which might conceivably be brought to an end at any moment but which in this case apparently succeeded so well that it simply grew into a performance.”

“The Glenn Gould Reader” Edited by Tim Page. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York, 1984

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