KS2: Antonín Dvořák - Symphony No. 9 in E minor, 'From the New World’ – Largo (2nd mvt)

Naomi Wilkinson explores Dvořák's piece with facts, insight and beautiful animation.

Dvořák, who was so inspired by the folk music of his native Czech culture, wrote this symphony during his time in America, the 'new world', in the 1890s. While there – in this dynamic new land – Dvořák was in fact very homesick for his own country.

This piece is all about place, discovering something new and experiencing new things; Dvořák was greatly influenced by the sights and sounds he experienced in America. The symphony is made up of 4 movements and the particular movement that you are using is the second movement called Largo. Largo refers to the slow and dignified speed/tempo of the piece.

Listen out for: Themes that resemble African-American traditional melodies. Dvořák wrote that he really admired African-American spirituals and in this symphony you can hear some of that inspiration. He also revealed that parts of the symphony were inspired by a poem about a Native American chief called The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Watch the full performance of Dvořák's piece by the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Antonín Dvořák

BORN: 1841 / DIED: 1904 / NATIONALITY: Czech

Antonín Dvořák (pronounced AN-tuh-neen DVOR-zhaak) spent most of his life near Prague. He had a good musical education from the age of 6 and grew up to be a fine viola player and teacher. He had a unique style that often combined traditional folk tunes with a large, orchestral sound. Dvořák found it hard to make a living from his music so he tried entering composition competitions. His luck wasn't good and he was getting frustrated at not winning when one of his pieces was spotted by an extremely famous composer called Brahms.

Brahms took a real interest in Dvořák, he gave him lots of advice and even introduced him to a publisher. Within a couple of years Dvořák was almost as famous as Brahms himself! At the peak of this fame in 1892 he accepted the post of Director at the National Conservatory of Music in New York City. The position was extremely well paid and Dvořák was initially excited about the move but something was wrong – he didn't really like America! He was miserably homesick and after just 3 years he quit the post and returned home for good. Despite this unhappiness, some of his most memorable pieces were written during his short time in the United States.

MP3: Listen to or download the music

Download the Symphony No. 9 in E minor, 'From the New World’ – Largo MP3

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Antonín Dvořák

Lesson Plans

Six weeks of learning and activities Download lesson plans for six weeks of learning and activities for Symphony No. 9 in E minor, 'From the New World’ – Largo, as Powerpoint presentations or PDFs. These lesson plans are ideal for music lessons, but you can of course use the Ten Pieces in many other subjects and activities. Take a look at our video masterclasses for inspiration.

To enable all images to work in the PowerPoint files please save the file to your computer. To save to your computer: PC - right-click and save, Mac - ctrl-click and save.

Primary lesson plans:

Lesson plan by Rachel Leach

Suitable for:
Key Stage 2 in England and Wales
Second Level, P5-P7 in Scotland
*Key Stage 1/Key Stage 2 in Northern Ireland

Arrangements: Play the piece with simplified parts

All parts have been designed to work together to enable mixed-ability groups to perform together. See more information about the parts below.

Notes from the arranger:

By Iain Farrington

All parts have been designed to enable mixed-ability groups to perform together. A certain amount of simplification has been required to adapt the pieces for mixed-ability. Some pieces have been cut to allow a 3-5 minute general duration and to remove especially difficult passages of music. A successful rendering of each piece would require the essential melodic material and bass line which are often in the Grades 4/5 parts, especially in the piano.

There are scores for each difficulty level plus three other scores for each piece:

  • Grouped according to ability
  • Grouped according to instrument type
  • 'Short score' in C, grouped according to ability

There are three ability levels – beginner, intermediate (Grades 1-3) and Grades 4-5.

  • Flute parts can be played by the violins
  • Oboe parts can be played by the flutes and violins
  • Trumpet parts (in Bb) can be played by the clarinets
  • Violin parts can be played by the flutes (except when in the lowest register)
  • The 'percussion' part is a beginner part and can be played on any drum. It adds a simple rhythm layer to each piece. Timpani and full percussion parts are for intermediate or Grades 4/5

Please note:

Symphony No. 9 in E minor, 'From the New World’ – Largo: This has been transposed up a semitone into D major for ease of performance and to allow use of open strings. There is a cut from bar 42 to bar 119 in the original. The melody in the flute, oboe, clarinet, saxophone and trumpet parts in bars 7-18 and 36-39 can be played by a single instrument, or as many players as preferred.