COMPOSED BY

Antonin Dvorak (Sep 1841 - May 1904) in 1870

DURATION

Approximately 25 minutes (total 4 movements)

Instrumentation

2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 3 French horns, cello, double bass, contrabassoon (ad lib)

SUMMARY OF THE COMPOSITION

Czech composer, Antonin Dvorak, was well-known for his orchestral compositions. His initial popularity came with the performance of his Slavonic Dances for piano four hands, which he later orchestrated for symphony orchestra. Louis Elhert, a well-known Czech music critic, loved the dances so much, and spoke very highly of them, that Dvorak dedicated a piece to him.

1

Moderato, quaci marcia

Beginning in D minor, this opening movement sets the tone of the entire work. Starting with march-like rhythms and the unusual combination of instruments, it creates a very interesting timbre. It is the only movement in the minor key, complementing the overall good-natured qualities of the serenade.

2

Minuetto

Although titled minuetto and sounding like a Classical minuet, this movement is based on a Czech dance called sousedka, while the energetic trio section is based on another Czech dance, furiant.

3

Andante con moto

For most of the movement, it is pastoral and lyrical, with moments of intense passion created in arcing lines for the oboe and the clarinet. This movement triggers thoughts of Dvorak trying to paint a picture of his beloved Czech countryside.

4

Allegro molto

The finale is a rondo, playfully structured, extremely lively and technically challenging. It recalls the theme from the first movement towards the end, bringing the work to a satisfying conclusion.

WHO IS ... Antonin Dvorak?

Suprising fun facts

  • He suffered from agoraphobia (fear of open spaces). It was so bad that he missed the debut performance of his own New World Symphony.
  • He was obsessed with trains. He was known to have spent hours at the Franz Josef railway station in Prague, known the train schedule by heart, and even asked students to describe their train journey.
  • He was an extremely early riser. When Dvorak and his wife stayed at Cambridge, the host was surprised to find the couple sitting under a tree in the garden at 6am.
  • His grandmother called him “My Little Toothy” because he had good teeth.
  • It was said that Dvorak was so critical of himself that he burned his early works.

RECOMMENDED RECORDING