"Ocean" Symphony ("Neptune"), B420
Burghauser catalogue number
In 1893, during his time in the United States, Dvorak was considering – probably inspired by his voyage across the Atlantic – writing a programme symphony entitled “Ocean”. It was to have begun with the chord C-E-G sharp in the fortissimo trombones (the same sound cluster given out by ships’ horns as the vessels sailed out from New York harbour) and its four movements were to have illustrated the passage across the ocean. The first movement was to have had the title “Neptune” after the Roman god of water and, according to the composer’s notes, would have expressed “tranquility and trust”. The second movement, Scherzo, would have represented “dancing and merrymaking on the ship”. The third movement was originally conceived as a “chorale” with variations, and the final movement was to have conjured up “a storm, then calm, and then a safe return to dry land”. The symphony was never realised.