Dvorak's five symphonic poems, composed between 1896 and 1897, attempt to bridge the antagonism existing between pure and programmatic music. Trying to overcome their typical differences, Dvorak reconciled the characteristic features of poetry and folklore with grand classical forms, demonstrating in this way his ability to utilise Liszt's model and transform it by creating a new concept of programmatic music founded on the use of the Czech folkloric heritage. Four of the five poems are based on ballads by K. J. Erben, taken from the poetry book, The Bouquet (Kytice), where Dvorak found the sense of wonder, where simplicity meets with moral strength. Dvorak underlines the narration and the folk tone, applying the new processes which are based on the unity of poetic and musical setting. He, who initiated truly national music, models his orchestral ideas on the rhythms and intonations of the poetic text, creating a musical expression which conforms to the Czech character of the poem, opening in this way the path for Janacek. The folkloric character and his treatment of music setting, based on the will to translate as closely as possible the Czech soul, make these works an elaborate synthesis of Dvorak's aspirations of appeasement between learned music and folklore.
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