Scherzo Capriccioso

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Antonín Dvořák

Antonín Dvořák (trans. Thomas Knox)

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The original work bears the designation Opus 66.

General Info

Year: 1883 /
Duration: c. 14:00
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

Despite his financial difficulties, Dvořák’s compositional style in his early career was marked by great energy and bravado. This is heard in works such as his String Quintet in A minor, the first two symphonies, and his monumental cello concerto. As his career progressed, he gained financial success through grants awarded by the Ministry of Culture and Education in Vienna. Through that grant, he also gained the friendship and mentorship of Johannes Brahms who served on its jury. However, Dvořák suffered a series of personal tragedies during this success which influenced his work greatly. Over a short period of time beginning in 1877, he and his wife Anna lost all three of their children. In 1882, tragedy struck again when Dvořák’s mother died. These profound losses influenced a period of a dark compositional style out of which emerged the dramatic Symphony No. 7, the F minor Piano Trio and the Scherzo Capriccioso.

In sharp contrast to the title, the fourteen-minute piece is a tumultuous journey full of angst. The work is dramatic, complex, and very challenging for the performers, in spite of its seemingly simple A-B-A form. Dvořák fleshes out the normally straightforward A sections of a symphonic scherzo, developing its thematic material in these lively and capricious outer sections. The B section is more lyrical. Dvořák uses unusual combinations of instruments in this section to create dark and unusual tone colors. In this transcription, Thomas Knox utilizes harp, bass clarinet, and English horn from Dvořák’s original orchestration. The piece ends in a frenetic recapitulation of themes: a triumphant and intentional return to life.

- Program Note from U.S. Marine Band program, 9 August 2023

The Scherzo capriccioso in D♭ major, Op. 66 (B. 131), is an orchestral work by Antonín Dvořák. Composed in 1883, it was premiered the same year at the National Theatre under Adolf Čech. A typical performance takes approximately 14 minutes.

As with the third piano trio, the Hussite Overture, the Ballade in D minor, and the seventh symphony, composed in the same period, the work is written in a more dramatic, dark and aggressive style that supersedes the carefree folk style of Dvořák's "Slavonic period". It also bears other notable features, including development occurring in the exposition, counterpoint creating dense structure, and the sound of the orchestra often being punctuated by the distinctive use of the cor anglais and bass clarinet.

- Program Note from Wikipedia


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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  • United States Marine Band (Washington, D.C.) (Darren Lin, conductor) – 9 August 2023

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