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The New World


On October 12, 1892, newly arrived in the New World, Czech composer Antonín DvoÍák wrote from New York to a friend in Moravia about his first impressions of America:

After being in quarantine for just a little while we arrived safely in the promised land. The view from Sandy Hook, the harbor town for New York, with the splendid Statue of Liberty (who has room in her head alone for 60 people and where banquets are often held) is very impressive! Add to that all the shipping from the four corners of the world! As I say, it’s astounding.

On Tuesday the 27th we arrived at the town (Hoboken) where all ships dock, and waiting for us was the Secretary of the National Conservatory, Mr. Santon–and what pleased me most–a delegation of Czechs. After we exchanged greetings and said a few words, a carriage awaited us and soon we were in New York, and are still in the same hotel.

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The city itself is splendid, attractive buildings and beautiful streets and, everywhere, absolute cleanliness.

Things are expensive here. Our gulden is like a dollar. At the hotel we pay 55 dollars a week for three rooms, admittedly in the most central part of the city, Union Square. But that makes no difference because we will not spend more than 5000 and so, I’m grateful to say, we’ll be able to leave the rest untouched.

On Sunday the 9th there was a big Czech concert in my honor. There were 3000 people in the hall, clapping and cheering continuously. There were speeches in Czech and English and I, poor thing, had to give a thank you speech from the platform while holding a silver wreath in my hands.

You can imagine how I felt! And you’ll find out about it later from the newspapers. What the American papers write about me is awful. They see in me, they say, the savior of music and who knows what else!