The American flag by Antonin Dvorak : a case for performance
Contrary to the popularity of Antonín Dvořák’s symphonic compositions and even his choral Te Deum, his cantata The American Flag is not widely known. Despite its sparse performance history, The American Flag is accessible for a collegiate or community choir and is appropriate for a variety of patriotic or commemorative occasions. Throughout The American Flag, Antonín Dvořák set the patriotic text to maximize dramatic impact by his choice of shifting texture, melodic repetition, key selection, harmonic language, and tempo variation. This essay includes a history of the composition, offers suggestions for performance preparation, illuminates challenges for the conductor, and presents a method of analysis designed to aid conductors in preparing the piece for rehearsal and performance. Discussion of performance preparation includes variables between performance with full orchestra and piano accompaniment. An appendix includes an analytical chart for each movement in the manner developed by Julius Herford and his students.