Dvorak on Spirituals

Oct 3, 2018

Credit SC Public Radio/Mary Noble Ours

The composer Ernest Bloch once wrote that it’s only by plunging one’s roots to the depths of one’s own people that one finds the common ground of all people. Antonin Dvorák expressed a similar sentiment, and here’s the advice that he gave to American composers at the beginning of the 20th century, after he had been introduced to African American Sprirtuals:

“I am now satisfied that the future music of this country must be founded upon what are called the negro melodies...

"They are the songs of America and your composers must turn to them. In the negro melodies…I discover all that is needed for a great and noble school of music.  They are heartbreaking, tender, passionate, melancholy, solemn, religious, bold, merry, gay, gracious or what you will.  It is music that suits itself to any mood or purpose.  There is nothing in the whole range of composition that cannot find a thematic source here.” The words of Antonin Dvorák.

This has been A Minute with Miles – a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.