The Melody & The Hope
Warren E. Berkley
I love good music. For me it is therapeutic and a pleasant mental recreation. I am intrigued by the technical talent of skilled musicians and interested in various interpretations of conductors, arrangers and performers. But there is another valuable product of music for me: the stirring of good memories and hopeful thoughts.
All of these benefits are shared in Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 in E minor, popularly known as “From The New World,” or “The New World Symphony.” I was privileged to hear this performed by The Valley Symphony Orchestra a few years ago. Everything was there. The teamwork of talented musicians, the passionate interpretation of the conductor and the uncommon attentiveness of the audience – which became a graceful avenue for the great melodies of the composer to find their mark.
In the case of this work, historical context enhances your appreciation for the piece. In 1892 Dvorak moved from Prague to New York. Not long after his arrival in “the new world,” he began to study the music of this young society. He was fascinated by this music and felt that “this must be the real foundation of any serious and original” attempt to teach music and composition in America. The music was already here. It was his task to study it, teach it and capture it in his work. The melodies he heard in New York and during a summer in Iowa became the leading influence that resulted in this amazing piece, “The New World Symphony.”
The most compelling melody in this composition is what we know as the song, “Going Home.” Music historians are not agreed. Did Dvorak hear this and incorporate it into his symphony? Or was it original with him. Some even speculate the theme may have originated in the Czech music of his childhood.
Why does that melody so grip us emotionally? What images and thoughts are created in our minds when listening to this? “Home” is a word that touches us. It is where you go for comfort; it is familial; it is a place to relax after work. In whatever language, the concept is lofty and endearing.
The lyrics (likely written after the 9th Symphony was released):
Going home. Going home. I’m a-going home.
Quiet-like some still day, I’m just going home.
It’s not far, just close by, through an open door.
Work all done, cares laid by, Going to fear no more;
Mother’s there expecting me, Father’s waiting, too.
Lot’s of folks gathered there. All the friends I knew.
Someday, will you be going home? Death will not be the end of your existence. You will move from this earth into the next realm. Heaven will be the perfect and final home. Father’s waiting . . . folks gathered there . . . fear no more . . . cares laid by. Are you going home?
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ form the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time,” 1 Pet. 1:3-5.