This is really makes the story behind Dvorak symphony so god-damn bizarre that it seems the polar opposite of the American stereotype. This is the type of story I expect coming from a country like Australia (where we often complain about suffering from "cultural cringe" and a sense of cultural inferiority complex) rather than the big superpower of the USA. I mean if I was a American nationalist, I would have considered this as one of the most embarrassing moments of the nation history and a dark day of American music.
Essentially American music was dominated by composers who were considered "German copycats" and second rate Brahms (now I actually think that is an intrinsically good thing but I'll put away my personal bias for the sake of this post)
So Jeannette Meyer Thurber who founded the National Conservatory of Music in New York saw this as a problem and wanted to create a uniquely American Style of Music.
So if I was given this problem to fix. What I would have done is write screed about what an American style would entail (so similar to what the Russian 5 did), write music or if I'm not talented enough, be the patron and financial backer of composers who do write within that ideology and then elevate earlier American composers such as Gottschalk who did create a uniquely american style by synthesising the african americans with european composer as the "Founder of American Music" similar to what the Russian Five did with Glinka.
I mean it's not like there weren't already Americans who knew what the solution was. There were already American composers who were advocating that to create an american style, journalist James Huneker wrote an article suggesting "that a messiah of american music should employ negro melodies to create a new american style". Which means that there were already americans who knew the answer. They didn't need a foreigner to come to their country to tell them what they already know .
However what Thurber did was that she notice that Dvorak created a unique Czech style of music. Maybe Dvorak could then come in and showed the country how to create an American school of composition.
"Let's grab a foreigner who has never lived in this country in their entire life and knows nothing about American cultiure to show us how to be American"
What an embarrassing idea and dare I say completely un-American (yeah I know as a foreigner, I shouldn't be deciding what is American and what's not).
So only when a world famous "Cultured European" composer says the exact thing that previous American have said "In the Negro melodies of America I discover all that is needed for a great and noble school of music." which is basically identical in meaning to the quote from the American journalist previously. Only then do people take that idea seriously. Oh the American must bow down to the superior wisdom of the cultured European we can't take that same idea seriously if a lowly uncultured American says the exact same thing.
The thing is Dvorak actually did a pretty bad job of that and did a half-arse research effort in trying to integrate African American and Native American music with European music,
Dvorak did not distinguish between true spirituals and Stephen Foster "Plantation songs. Dvorak sole research of african american music was inviting an African american student to sing for him. He "researched" Native American music by visiting "buffalo Bill's Wild West Show". He also believed that Native American and African American music as nearly identical to Scottish Folk music.
So what we have is a composition that is based on an awful idea that should have doomed the composition on conception. It also has a composer who failed and did a poor job at achieving the artistic goal that he set for himself to create a "uniquely American style" due to his half-arse "research" effort.
So Dvorak Symphony No. 9 is really a bad idea executed poorly.
It's a good thing that I don't judge music via the artistic aim of the author but my own personal bias as if it was a former I would be force to say this is an awful work. Thankfully I don't have to be "objective" and I think it is a great work but geez this entire story behind the composition is an embarrassment to the United States and even Dvorak himself