Sunday, April 20, 2008

H. T. Burleigh's “Goin' Home” Was Adapted From Dvorak's “New World Symphony”

[Deep River: Songs and Spirituals; Oral Moses, bass-baritone; Ann Sears, piano; Troy 332 (1999)]

Maestro Marin Alsop wrote an essay for National Public Radio, April 18, 2008, noting that the African American composer Henry "Harry" Thacker Burleigh (1866-1949) adapted a melody from Dvorak's
New World Symphony for his song Goin' Home. Burleigh is profiled at Audio samples accompany Marin Alsop's essay for NPR:

Symphony No. 9 is nicknamed New World because Dvorak wrote it during the time he spent in the U.S. in the 1890s. His experiences in America (including his discovery of African-American and Native-American melodies) and his longing for home color his music with mixed emotions.”
The New World Symphony's best-known melody surfaces in the 'Largo' movement, with its aching English horn solo. It was later adapted into the song 'Goin' Home' by Harry Burleigh, a black composer whom Dvorak befriended while in New York. But I'm always moved by the church-like chords that come before that now-famous tune. In a stroke of innovative genius, Dvorak brings these opening chords back at the climax of the finale, where all the melodies from the symphony reappear, transformed by the journey.” [Full Post]

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