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Antonín Dvořák: Symphony No. 9 "From the New World," analysis by Gerard Schwarz (part 3)

Video transcript
Gerard: The third movement of this great symphony is the scherzo. He marks it molto vivace, very very fast and the opening is very reminiscent of the Beethoven Ninth opening of the famous scherzo. The timpani has a prominent role. In the first few bars, you'll hear the timpani responding to the woodwinds and later on, the timpani actually plays the melody or the rhythms of the melody. It begins with an introduction and sure enough, the first theme comes in played by the second flute, the oboe with an answer from the clarinet. (Dvorak's Symphony No. 5) The next time it comes in, the timpani is actually playing that melody. Maybe it's only the rhythm of the melody but it clearly is the timpani playing the melody. This section is then repeated. It's very much a furiante, a kind of dance that Dvorak wrote where you had a lot of these cross-rhythms. If the movement is going ba-da-da-bom-bom, bom-bom, he'll have bom-bom-bom, be-bom-bom-bom-bom-bom-bom. It's something he used in a lot of the symphonies. He used it in the Sixth Symphony. He used it in the Slovanic Dances. It's something that's very traditional in Dvorak. After the repeat, we come back and now there's the extension of this first section and he wants to get to yet another theme, the second theme, and he does it with a wonderful little bassoon solo. Everything's going along. All of a sudden the bassoon's playing, and the bassoon plays in transition, transition, and then flute and oboe with a little response from the bassoon plays the second theme. (second theme) It's extended by the clarinet and played then by the cellos, brings us back to the first theme. We have first theme group, now the second theme played by the woodwinds, and then we're back to the first theme. As the first theme progresses, he develops it much more than usual. In fact, one could consider this the beginning of the development section of this movement. Scherzos usually, remember, are the first section, an A section, then a trio section, the B section, and then the A section. He does that to a certain extent but the A section is much more complicated than one would normally imagine. The transition to the B section that we've arrived at now, in fact is very unusual in the sense that there's so much there. There's some new material. You do feel a sense of unrest wondering what's going to come next. Then, what comes next is a very folk-like melody played by the woodwind instruments with a little accompaniment in the triangle and timpani and, of course, the strings. (Dvorak's Symphony No. 5) This is repeated and then the strings take over, again in a very folk-like way. You could call this the second part of that B section theme. (B section theme) Woodwinds take it over. It's repeated and then he brings us back to the first theme and the first tempo. During that transition, he writes da capo, to the head, to the beginning. We do the whole thing all over again. After we get through, up to the recapitulation, at that point he says to the coda. We skip the trio and we move to the coda and the coda is the ending material. What he does is he combines the first theme of the first movement, again played by the third and the fourth horn as it was in the first movement. Then the second flute and oboe answer that. Again the horn plays very strong. There's a soft response from the second flute and oboe. Horns strong, and so forth. Then everyone joins in playing that third theme from the first movement combined with the scherzo and this movement comes to an end. (end of movement, Dvorak's 5th Symphony)