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Czech Suite (Dvorak)

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Antonín Dvořák

Antonín Dvořák (arr. Graham Sheen)


General Info

Year: 1879 / 1988
Duration: c. 22:25
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: Kalmus, through Keiser Southern Music
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown


Movements

1. Preludium (Prelude): Allegro moderato – 3:20
2. Polka: Allegretto grazioso – 4:40
3. Sousedská (Minuetto): Allegro giusto – 4:05
4. Romance: Andante con moto – 4:00
5. Finale (Furiant): Presto – 5:25


Instrumentation

Full Score
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II
Horn in F I-II


Errata

None discovered thus far.


Program Notes

After the success of the Serenade in E major and Serenade in D minor, Dvorak had in mind to write another work of the same formal disposition, this time incorporating Czech folk dances. For this objective, however, the label “serenade” was not wholly appropriate and instead was given the subtitle “Czech”. The work was completed in April and first performed in Prague on May16th, 1879, at a concert organized by the Association of Czech Journalists and conducted by Adolf Cech. A year later, Dvorak conducted his Czech Suite himself in Prague, on March 29th 1880, at a benefit concert to raise money for the construction of the National Theatre.

The work is made up of five movements, three of which are traditional Czech dances, and two are descriptive of the Bohemian countryside which inspired much of Dvořák's music.

Original instrumentation of the piece was for two flutes, two oboes, English horn, two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, timpani, and string orchestra. This arrangement was written by British Bassoonist, teacher, and arranger Graham Sheen (b. 1952) for double wind quintet (two flutes, two oboes (including English horn), two clarinets, two horns, and two bassoons).

The opening movement, Preludium (prelude), playfully passes a theme between different instruments and serves as a lyrical introduction to the overall work. The underlying accompaniment swims the texture back and forth and includes an ostinato figure in the lower voices consisting of alternating whole tones. The melodic line in the upper voices flow smoothly above the accompaniment, slowing and stretching toward the conclusion of the movement.

Movement two, Polka, is a dance in duple meter with a charming characteristic rhythmic pattern. The movement begins in D minor and feels almost solemn or melancholy in nature. The B section shifts to F major and becomes more rhythmically varied and expressive. The movement returns to the A section and ends, once again, on a melancholy note.

The third movement is titled Sousedská and is a traditional Czech dance. The sousedská, similar to a minuet or a waltz, is a semi-slow dance in triple meter that has a calming, swaying character and is usually danced in a pair. The principal theme of the movement is colorfully imitated in multiple voices throughout.

Romance, the fourth movement, is a wonderfully lyrical nocturne. The broad melody is first heard in the flute, and then colorfully expanded by the rich timbre of the English horn. The lyrical nature of the melody offers a serene contrast to underlying accompaniment in the lower voices.

The final movement is titled Furiant. Based on the title alone, one might assume that the movement is to be played with lots of anger and force. The furiant is actually a rapid and fiery Czech dance in triple meter that frequently shifts where the accents, or emphasis on beats, is placed. After a rousing few statements of the main theme, the character shifts to a softer, more elegant dance. The tone of the movement shifts a few times between the fiery main theme and the more graceful second theme. Though boisterous in parts, this movement is a wonderfully dazzling and expressive finale to the piece.

- Program Note from Appalachian State University Wind Ensemble concert program, 26 March 2021


Commercial Discography


State Ratings

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