From School Library Journal
Grade 6 Up-This is an engaging account of the years the Bohemian composer spent in the U.S. during the early 1890s, teaching at the National Conservatory of Music in New York City and composing his New World symphony and shorter works. The development of Dvor k's controversial views-that a truly distinct American music would be based on African-American spirituals and "plantation songs," and on Native American music-is discussed in detail, as is the attitude of adherents to the Germanic school of classical music toward what they considered his peasant sensibilities. In an afterword, Horowitz, likening his book to a conductor's interpretation of a piece of music, states that some of the incidents are his inventions or re-creations, and that "the words I have put in [Dvor k's] mouth" are based on other writings about the composer. The fictionalized incidents, feelings, thoughts, and dialogue give the book a friendlier, more intimate tone than a more conventional biography might evoke. The 30 sometimes-dark period photographs include city scenes and portraits. Many of the primary sources on which Horowitz's research was based can be found on a DVD, From the New World: A Celebrated Composer's American Odyssey, created by Robert Winter and Peter Bogdanoff in tandem with this title. A welcome addition to music and biography collections.
Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 6-12. When Bohemian composer Antonin Dvorak emigrated from Prague to the U.S. in the 1890s, Americans immediately embraced him for being what they idolized most: a self-made man. Horowitz, a leading writer on American music, focuses on Dvorak's American stay. His text doesn't always read very smoothly, but the letters to and from family members and lots of interesting photographs help speed the pace of what is a thorough slice of immigrant life. Most fascinating is the account of the development of Dvorak's great New World symphony: when the composer heard one of his assistants sing slave songs, he realized that American classical music should come from the melodies and rhythms of all its people. In a long final note on sources, Horowitz describes his extensive research and acknowledges where he has imagined scenes and conversations. Roger Leslie
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