DVORAK: Piano Trio in F Minor / Piano Trio in E Minor, 'Dumky'

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Antonin Dvorak (1841 - 1904)

Piano Trio in F minor, Op. 65

Dumky, Op. 90


Antonin Dvorak was born in 1841, the son of a butcher andinnkeeper in the village of Nelahozeves, near Kralupy in Bohemia, and someforty miles north of Prague. It was natural that he should at first have been expectedto follow the family trade, as the eldest son. His musical abilities, however,soon became apparent and were encouraged by his father, who in later years abandonedhis original trade, to earn something of a living as a zither player. Afterprimary schooling he was sent to lodge with an uncle in Zlonice and was there ableto acquire the necessary knowledge of German and improve his abilities as amusician, hitherto acquired at home, in the village band and at church. Furtherstudy of German and of music at Kamenice, a town in northern Bohemia, led tohis admission, in 1857, to the Prague Organ School, where he studied for the followingtwo years.


On leaving the Organ School, Dvorak earned his living asa viola-player in a band under the direction of Karel Komzak, an ensemble thatwas to form the nucleus of the Czech Provisional Theatre Orchestra, establishedin 1862. Four years later Smetana was appointed conductor at the theatre, wherehis operas The Brandenburgers in Bohemia and The Bartered Bride hadalready been performed. It was not until 1871 that Dvorak resigned from theorchestra, devoting himself more fully to composition, as his music began toattract favourable local attention. In 1873 he married a singer from the chorusof the theatre and in 1874 became organist of the church of St Adalbert. Duringthis period he continued to support himself by private teaching, while busy ona series of compositions that gradually became known to a wider circle.


Further recognition came to Dvorak in 1874, when hisapplication for an Austrian government award brought his music to the attentionof Brahms and the critic Eduard Hanslick in Vienna. The granting of this awardfor five consecutive years was of material assistance. It was through thiscontact that Brahms, impressed by Dvorak's Moravian Duets entered forthe award of 1877, was able to arrange for their publication by Simrock, whocommissioned a further work, Slavonic Dances, for piano duet. Thesuccess of these publications introduced Dvorak's music to a much wider public,for which it held some exotic appeal. As his reputation grew, there were visitsto Germany and to England, where he was always received with greater enthusiasmthan might initially have been accorded a Czech composer in Vienna.


In 1883 Dvorak had rejected a tempting proposal that heshould write a German opera for Vienna. At home he continued to contribute toCzech operatic repertoire, an important element in re-establishing nationalidentity. The invitation to take up a position in New York was another matter.

In 1891 he had become professor of composition at Prague Conservatory and in thesummer of the same year he was invited to become director of the NationalConservatory of Music in New York. With the backing of Jeanette Thurber and herhusband, this institution was intended to foster American music, hithertodominated by musicians from Europe or largely trained there. Whatever theultimate success or failure of the venture, Dvorak's contribution was seen asthat of providing a blue-print for American national music, following theexample of Czech national music, which owed so much to him. The musical resultsof Dvorak's time in America must lie chiefly in his own music, notably in his Symphony'From the New World', his American Quartet and American Quintet

and his Violin Sonatina, works that rely strongly on the Europeantradition that he had inherited, while making use of melodies and rhythms thatmight be associated in one way or another with America. By 1895 Dvorak was homefor good, resuming work at the Prague Conservatory, of which he became directorin 1901. His final works included a series of symphonic poems and two moreoperas, to add to the nine he had already composed. He died in Prague in 1904.


Dvorak's chamber music includes fourteen string quartets,three string quintets, a string sextet, two piano quintets, two piano quartetsand six piano trios, the first two of which are lost or were destroyed by the composer.

The Piano Trio in F minor, Opus 65, was written during the first monthsof 1883, the year of his orchestral Scherzo capriccioso, written inApril and May, and the Hussite Overture, written in late summer for thecelebratory opening of the Czech National Theatre in Prague in November. Justas the earlier Piano Trio in G minor had been written after the death ofhis eldest daughter, so the F minor Piano Trio came shortly after thedeath of the composer's mother. The work is strongly felt, while seeming to owemuch to Brahms in its form, rhythmic interplay, textures and melodic invention.

The serious intention is evident at the outset, as violin and cello embark onthe first theme, before the entry of the piano, which restates the theme inmore grandiose form. The second subject is introduced by the cello, in the keyof D flat major, to be expanded and darkened before the central development, withits shifts of key and initial reminiscence of the first theme, which returnsemphatically, in its original key, to start the formal recapitulation. Here thematerial is further varied, before the final Poco piu mosso, quasi vivace.

The second movement is a Scherzo in C sharp minor. The folk-type melodymoves briefly to E major, with the piano at first accompanied by the strings, beforethey take up the theme. The Trio section is in D flat major, theenharmonic tonic major key, and offers the kind of change of mood and keyboardsonorities familiar from Brahms. The expressive Poco adagio, in A flatmajor, opens with a cello melody, harmonically tinged with melancholy, but themood is soon lightened, as the violin introduces a tenderly lyrical melody, helpedby the cello, both supported by the piano. There is a change of mood and key,as G sharp minor gives way for a moment to B major The principal thematic materialreturns in the final section of the movement, both principal melodic elementsnow in the tonic key. The Finale, in the rhythm of a Czech furiant,returns to F minor, its first theme followed by a more tranquil C sharp minor.

The principal theme serves as a frame-work for further contrasting episodes,before a moment of tranquillity, as the music resolves into the major key, dyingaway gradually, before the final burst of emphatic nervous energy.


The Dumky Trio was started in November 1890 and completedthe following year on 12th February 1891 brought the first performance of the Requiem,in London, Dvorak's acceptance of the position of professor of orchestrationand composition at the Prague Conservatory, on the duties of which he now embarked,and a visit to Cambridge to receive the degree of Doctor of Music. The dumka

was in origin a Ukrainian lament. The word is a diminutive of duma, a narrativeballad, with a plural, dumky. Dvorak had first used the word dumka asthe title of a piano piece in 1876 and he went on to use the dumka inhis Slavonic Dances, String Sextet, String
Item number 8550444
Barcode 730099544429
Release date 12/01/1999
Category Wind
Label Naxos Classics
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Composers Dvorak, Antonin
Dvorak, Antonin
Orchestras Trio, Joachim
Trio, Joachim
Disc: 1
Piano Trio in F minor, Op. 90, "Dumky"
1 I. Allegro ma non troppo
2 II. Allegro grazioso
3 III. Poco adagio
4 IV. Finale: Allegro con brio
5 I. Lento maestoso - Allegro
6 II. Poco adagio - Vivace non troppo
7 III. Andante - Vivace non troppo
8 IV. Andante moderato (quasi tempo di marcia) - All
9 V. Allegro
10 VI. Lento maestoso - Vivace
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