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Carnival Overture (arr Patterson)

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Antonín Dvořák

Antonín Dvořák (arr. Donald Patterson)

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The work bears the designation Opus 92.

General Info

Year: 1891 / 2023
Duration: c. 9:30
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: U.S. Marine Band
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown


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None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The concert overture Carnival (Czech: Karneval, koncertní ouvertura), Op. 92, B. 169, was written by Antonín Dvořák in 1891. It is part of a "Nature, Life and Love" trilogy of overtures written by Dvořák, forming the second "Life" part. The other two parts of the trilogy are In Nature's Realm, Op. 91 (Nature) and Othello, Op. 93 (Love).

- Program notes from Wikipedia

Dvorák's Carnival Overture was written in the summer of 1891 as the second of a three-overture set originally called Nature, Life and Love. Described by Brahms as a "merry work," it is heard here in a transcription. The work is a joyful and exuberant depiction of a city carnival. Filled with the traditional folk music and dance rhythms that are the hallmark of Dvorák's compositional style, the piece endures as a favorite in the symphonic literature. In a program note penned by the composer, Dvorák states, "The wanderer reaches a city at nightfall where a carnival of pleasure reigns supreme." We hear the "shouts of joy" and "unrestrained hilarity of people giving vent to their feelings..."

- Program notes by James W. Armstrong III for the U.S. Navy Band

1892 was an auspicious year for Antonín Dvorák. In that year he left his home country of Czechoslovakia for the United States in order to assume directorship of the National Conservatory of Music, based in New York City. He would spend the next three years in that post, and do some of his finest work there, including the composition of the so-called “New World” Symphony. As he made his departure from Prague, a farewell concert was given in his honor which included a set of three overtures called Nature, Life and Love. The second of these overtures is Carnival. Coincidentally, the same three overture set, or triptych, was performed at Carnegie Hall in a concert welcoming Dvorák to his new home in New York. Of the triptych, Carnival has become extremely popular as a stand-alone concert piece, thrilling audiences with its celebratory character and lively syncopation. As for the emotional quality Dvorák had in mind, the composer describes it thusly:

“The lonely, contemplative wanderer reaches the city at nightfall, where a carnival is in full swing. On every side is heard the clangor of instruments, mingled with shouts of joy and the unrestrained hilarity of people giving vent to their feelings in their songs and dance tunes.”

- Program Note by Andrew Skaggs for the U.S. Navy Band

Shortly before his venture to the New World, Dvorák composed a trio of pieces based on nature, life, and love. Carnival Overture was the central piece of the three, and has come to be performed on its own more often than not, perhaps due to its vibrant celebration of life. Throughout the work, Dvorák's typical use of Slavic folk music and dance rhythms can be heard. The festive atmosphere of carnival is interrupted midway with one of the composer’s favorite instruments, the English horn.

- Program Note by Rich Pauch for the Wheaton Municipal Band concert program, 21 December 2017

This transcription is in the orchestral key of A.

- Program Note from U.S. Marine Band


None discovered thus far.

State Ratings

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  • United States Marine Band (Washington, D.C.) (Ryan Nowlin, conductor) - 8 January 2023 *Transcription Premiere Performance*

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