Antonin Dvořák had a unique talent of drawing inspiration from both deep historical and religious subjects, as exemplified by his Psalm 149 on this program, as well as popular culture that surrounded him at the time. His famous New World Symphony was his artistic response to the new music he heard upon his arrival in America, whereas Legends was inspired by folk stories from his native Czechia.
Dvořák was not only a distinguished composer, but also a very accomplished educator. He was asked to come to New York in 1892 to help with establishing music programs for higher education in America. His early efforts later led to the establishment of The Juilliard School.
Austrian composer, Joseph Haydn composed over 100 symphonies. Many of them bear intriguing titles such as Surprise, Miracle, and Schoolmaster. The title of Philosopher is thought to derive from the melody and counterpoint of the first movement (between the horns and oboes), which musically allude to a question, followed by an answer, and paralleling a system of a debate.
Psalms are one of the oldest forms of literary and musical expressions in the history of humankind. Psalms were the hymnbook of Old Testament Judaism, and the majority of them were written by King David of Israel, followed by others including Moses and Solomon. Psalms were the main source of inspiration for generations of composers, including Johannes Brahms and Dvořák, whose Psalms are among the finest examples in the choral-orchestral literature.