The symphonies were originally numbered in the order of their publication, not composition, so that what we now know as no. 6 was originally published as no. 1; no. 7 as no. 2, no. 5 as no. 3; no. 8 as no. 4 and no. 9 as no. 5. I still have an early 60s LP of no. 8 conducted by Istvan Kertesz, where it is also numbered in parentheses as no. 4. (To confuse things even more, Dvorak himself apparently referred to their numbering differently again - one less than their current numbering!)
Following the publication of the 'real' number 1 in 1961, the opportunity was taken to re-order them related to their composition date, resulting in the order we have now.
Posted on Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - 08:02 pm:
Aaarrggh! I just missed most of what Bill said about the numbering of Dvorak's symphonies. I've been wondering about that for a while, as I seem to remember some recordings back in the 60s or earlier on which the New World was referred to as No. 5. So I'm excited to hear that it may not be just a phantom memory. Would someone mind posting a recap of when the renumbering was done, and just how? That is, which ones were skipped ... Thanks!