Antonín Dvořák: Symphony No. 9Listen

Psalms and Spirituals

This concert was played:

  1. Study on a Norwegian Hymn
  2. Chichester Psalms
  3. Symphony No. 9, "From the New World"
  1. John Storgårds conductor
  2. boy soprano
  3. Oslo Philharmonic Choir
  4. Øystein Fevang choir conductor

​Psalms have been the inspiration for many composers in creating strong and widely differing musical expressions.

Åm lets a religious folk song from his local area blend seamlessly with his own musical language, and also Bernstein went back to his roots when he used Jewish psalm texts in Hebrew in the powerful, dramatic and challenging epic work Chichester Psalms. When Dvořák travelled to “the new world” he encountered spirituals which flowed into his wonderful and popular Symphony No. 9. In this programme, Oslo Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra are led by Finnish conductor John Storgårds.

When Antonín Dvořák (1841-1903) travelled to the United States in 1892 he let himself immediately inspire by different American musical traditions, among those Negro Spirituals, and several of the themes in Symphony No. 9 (1893) reflect this. The piece was composed in New York in 1893 and bears the subtitle “From the New World”. Dvořák is well-known for his many easily recognisable and catchy melodies, and few symphonies contain as many beautiful melodic lines as this one does. The harmonious and resonant musical language has made the work hugely popular — so popular that Neil Armstrong brought a recording of it with him to another new world in 1969; the moon, to be precise!

In the same city, more than half a century later, Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) found inspiration in a completely different musical tradition as he composed the spectacular piece for choir and orchestra, Chichester Psalms (1965). Bernstein studied biblical psalms directly and used their Hebrew texts in his new work, which is characterised by complex and powerful rhythms and an extreme level of difficulty for both choir and orchestra, as well as for the boy soprano who sings the solo.On the other side of the globe, in Luster in Sogn og Fjordane, Magnar Åm (b. 1952) came across the psalm The Day Wanes and Fades Away, with a text by Dorothe Engelsbretsdatter, among the folk songs collected and transcribed by Ole Mørk Sandvik. The folk tone inspired him to compose Study of a Psalm from Luster (1977), where the original blends with his own, mildly dissonant and introverted expressive style. 

(Text: Thomas Erma Møller; Translation (from Norwegian): Sarah Osa; In photo: Catherine Bullock and John Storgårds; Photo: Fred-Olav Vatne/Oslo Philharmonic)


  • Adult: 100 - 470 NOK
  • Senior: 100 - 375 NOK
  • Student: 100 - 235 NOK
  • Child: 100 NOK

The concert is not included in any subscriptions.