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The Main Line traces the journey Antonín Dvoråk took from his native Bohemia, across the sea to New York City, by train to the small Iowan town of Spillville, on to the Chicago World's Fair, and back home again. Interwoven in are discussions about the fate of Native Americans at the end of the 19th century, the role of government in the support of the arts, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, and traveling Medicine Shows. A Czech train from the era.
Side Trips from the Main Line explore in detail subjects such as "New York Then and Now," "New World Etiquette,” and “A Foster Singalong” with text, images, and audio and video clips. One Side Trip contains a performance on video of excerpts of the “Gaelic” symphony of Amy Beach, a member of the Boston composers' group, the country's first school of art music.
The New World Symphony presents an audio performance of Dvorák's symphony "From the New World" along with simultaneous text commentary of exactly what is happening in the music. At the same time an animated "bouncing box" inside a notation score keeps track of where you are in the symphony—no music reading required! “Horns and winds begin the exposition by turning the introductory fragment into a full-blooded theme.”
Direct Testimony spans over 1,000 pages in the program and contains the text of original newspaper and magazine articles, letters, contracts, and the like related to Dvorák and the events, places, and people of his time. “As the metropolis of a Nation with bright memories and strong hopes of a great merchant marine and with a history of warlike achievements on the sea...New-York yesterday continued its Columbian Celebration with a great naval parade.” New-York Daily Tribune (October 12, 1892)
Glossary defines terms used in the program, such archaic 19th-century words and all musical terms. The Glossary also serves as a mini-gazetteer of places and a who's who of important people. Flamboyant “yellow journalist” James Creelman is believed to be the unidentified voice behind the May-June 1893 debates in the New York Herald about the importance of indigenous music in American music composition.
Indexes provide a centralized place to access Site Trips, images, and audio and video clips used in the program. Harry T. Burleigh, a student at New York’s National Conservatory sang a great many “Negro songs” for the composer Antonín Dvorák. This program includes an extremely rare 1919 recording of Burleigh singing his own arrangement of “Go Down, Moses.”
Sources serves both as an annotated bibliography and a means of linking to material quoted from Direct Testimony. “For National Music: Dvorák, the Great Bohemian Composer,” Chicago Tribune (August 13, 1893). “In this wide-ranging interview...Dvorák talks about his theories of composition, the proper use of folk music, the American flavor of his new symphony, and the nature of his composition class at the National Conservatory.”