You are here

Dvořák's Greatest Symphony?

Dvořák's Greatest Symphony?

Although there is no doubt that the "New World" is the most popular of Antonin Dvořák's nine symphonies, most musicologists and Dvořák scholars are in agreement that his greatest symphony is the Seventh.

In 1884, the Philharmonic Society of London invited Dvořák to write a symphony. Dvořák had greatly admired Brahms’ Third Symphony, whose premiere took place in 1883. Known for his folk, nationalist style, Dvořák had desired to create a work that would have a larger impact on the European world. He would find a way to move into this new musical territory with this commissioned symphony (his only) — the monumental Seventh Symphony, which he started in December 1884 and finished in March 1885.

Inspired by the political struggles of the Czech nation, Dvořák created a piece that is heavier in tone than his previous works and contains fewer folk elements. Both the first movement and the finale of the Seventh Symphony begin with dark and foreboding themes. The second movement is considered the heart of the piece and the reason some critics call it Dvořák’s “tragic” symphony.


Antonin Dvořák