Discover the Music

Discover the Music

Akron Symphony Orchestra musicians share their personal stories and background information on some of the world’s greatest musical compositions.

Discover Dvořák's New World Symphony

Composer Antonín Dvořák arrived in New York City in 1892 to direct the new National Conservatory of Music. Dvořák and the institution’s founder, Jeanette Thurber, expected that Dvořák would help to develop and grow an American school of composition.

Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, commonly called the New World Symphony, was not only his way of pointing toward a truly American musical style but also a reflection of his own feelings about the country. “I should never have written the Symphony as I have,” he said, “if I hadn’t seen America.”

In this video, Erica Snowden-Rodriguez, principal cello with the Akron Symphony Orchestra, shares some of the history and her personal experiences performing the New World Symphony.

For additional information about Dvořák and other influential composers, visit the Education page on our website at https://tinyurl.com/y3ld6y2q.

Discover Beethoven's Ode to Joy

Composer Ludwig van Beethoven is considered one of the greatest musical geniuses who ever lived. While he may be most famous for his nine symphonies, Beethoven also wrote many other kinds of music: chamber and choral music, piano music and string quartets, and an opera.

Beethoven composed his Ninth Symphony while deaf, and it was the first symphony written to include a choir. The final movement in the symphony is the most famous, as it served as the musical setting for Friedrich Schiller’s poem Ode to Joy. (The text of the poem is available at https://tinyurl.com/y4w93k3y.)

In this video, Amy Glick, a violinist with the Akron Symphony Orchestra, shares some of the history and her personal experiences about Beethoven’s Ode to Joy.

For additional information about Beethoven and other influential composers, visit the Education page on our website at https://tinyurl.com/y3ld6y2q.

Discover Copland's Variations on a Shaker Melody

Aaron Copland is one of the most famous American composers of all time. Copland wrote music with a very “American” sound. Some of his most famous pieces are his ballets – Billy the Kid, Rodeo, and Appalachian Spring. Billy the Kid and Rodeo are about the Wild West. Copland also wrote music for movies – Of Mice and Men and Our Town – and his music has become a great part of American history.

Copland used the Shaker song Simple Gifts as the basis for a set of variations in his ballet Appalachian Spring. Variations are composed of a repeated melody with altered musical elements. Common variation methods include lengthening or shortening notes, adding or subtracting notes, and changing the rhythm, tempo, dynamics, orchestration, or articulation. Any number of these changes can be combined to create a series—or set—of variations. (Source: Carnegie Hall Link Up website at https://tinyurl.com/y3k89w2u.

In this video, Jerry Miskell, a viola player with the Akron Symphony Orchestra, shares some of the history and his personal experiences about Copland’s Variations on a Shaker Melody.

For additional information about Copland and other influential composers, visit the Education page on our website at https://tinyurl.com/y3ld6y2q.

Discover Stravinsky's The Firebird

Composer Igor Stravinsky’s influence on music has been compared to Picasso’s influence on painting, as Stravinsky changed the language of music by making rhythm the main element of his compositions.

Stravinsky’s ballet The Firebird was first performed in Paris in 1910 and became the Russian composer’s first international success. The ballet is based on the Russian legend of the Firebird, and tells the story of Prince Ivan Tsarevich’s quest to save the princess that he loves from the evil sorcerer Kashchei. 

In this video, Brian Del Bianco, a bass player with the Akron Symphony Orchestra, shares some of his personal experiences about Stravinsky’s The Firebird.

For additional information about Stravinsky and other influential composers, visit the Education page on our website at https://tinyurl.com/y3ld6y2q.

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