Tag Archives: typical folk music

Antonin Dvorak – American Suite, Op. 98B

Yesterday I was listening to Dvorak’s American Suite on KUSC in my way to work. I told myself how much I will enjoy sharing this glorious music with you all, with many thanks for following, and commenting, and really making me feel that I belong. So here it is: The American Suite by Antonin Dvorak, and if you enjoy it as much as I do, please share it or comment, or both!

  Antonín Leopold Dvořák: Suite In A, Op. 98B, B 190, “American” 

American Suite

 The American Suite in A major (Czech: Suita A dur), Op. 98b, B. 190, is an orchestral suite written in 1894–1895 by Czech composer Antonín Dvořák.

Dvořák initially wrote the Suite in A major for piano, Op. 98, B. 184, in New York between February 19 and March 1, 1894.[1] He orchestrated it in two parts more than a year after his return to 

English: Antonin Dvorak in Spillville (Iowa) Č...

English: Antonin Dvorak in Spillville (Iowa) Česky: Antonín Dvořák ve Spillvilu (Iowa) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

the United States and immediately before his departure for Europe. The piano version was performed soon after its composition, but the orchestral version waited some years. The orchestral version of the American Suite was first played in concert in 1910 and not published until 1911, seven years after Dvořák’s death in 1904.Background


The suite is written in five movements, each with a marked rhythm:

  1. Molto vivace
  2. Allegro
  3. Moderato (alla Pollacca)
  4. Andante
  5. Allegro

Analysis and reception

As often is the case with Dvořák, the orchestral version gives the work a new breadth. The cyclic aspects of Dvořák’s composition are apparent, in that the principal theme of the first movement recurs up through the conclusion of the work. This opening theme is marked by his American-influenced style. It is difficult to determine if it comes from the typical folk music of the New World or simply of the music of the Czech emigrants, to which the Dvořák liked to listen during his stay in the United States.

This mix of American influence with Slavic tradition is also perceptible in the rhythm of the “alla Polacca” third movement, and in the last movement’s themes native to the Far East, played byflute and oboe in unison, where the orchestra passes easily from the minor theme to the major one. This final Allegro movement was used in the trailer for the adventure computergame The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall.

Far from any exoticism, the art of Dvořák’s orchestral work is in the field of pure music, and it is undoubtedly for this reason that Brahms appreciated it. Even in New York, when Dvořák encouraged his pupils to work on their own folk melodies, it was authentic recreation of the popular folk musics that he called for.