Dvořák’s Prophecy, Horowitz
Author: Joseph Horowitz
Format: Hardcover, 256 pages
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. (2021)
In 1893, Antonín Dvořák prophesied a “great and noble” school of American classical music based on the searing African American melodies he had excitedly discovered since arriving in the United States a year before. But while Black music would found popular genres known the world over, it never gained a foothold in the concert hall.
Joseph Horowitz ranges throughout American cultural history, from Frederick Douglass and Huckleberry Finn to Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and the work of Ralph Ellison, searching for explanations. Challenging the standard narrative for American classical music fashioned by Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland, he looks back to the literary figures — Emerson, Melville and Twain — to ponder how American music can connect with a “usable past.” The result is a new paradigm that makes room for Black composers including Harry Burleigh, Nathaniel Dett, William Dawson and Florence Price to redefine the classical canon.
About Joseph Horowitz:
A former music critic for The New York Times, Joseph Horowitz is the author of ten books exploring the history of American music, including Classical Music in America and Artists in Exile — both named books of the year by the Economist.