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About this Piece

Composed: 1870, rev. 1875, 1882-83

Length: 6 minutes

Orchestration: strings

First Los Angeles Philharmonic performances

The Notturno (Nocturne) for string orchestra began life as part of a string quartet Dvorák composed in 1870. In 1875, he reworked and expanded it, incorporating it into his String Quintet in G major as the work's second movement. The Quintet won first prize in a competition put on by the Artists' Club in Prague (an example of the kind of institution that gave Czech musicians new opportunities in their native land) and was performed in March 1876 as a result. He returned to the movement again late in 1882, revising it for string orchestra. Dvorák conducted the premiere of this version in Prague on January 6, 1883, and repeated it at a concert in the Crystal Palace in London on March 22 on a program with his Gypsy Songs and the Scherzo Capriccioso. The Notturno begins with a rapt, hushed melody that gradually unfolds over the course of the work, as Dvorák unearths new and varied expression from his material. The work is a night-piece more in the soothing, lullaby vein than in any troubled, unsettled, gothic sense.

- John Mangum is the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association's Program Designer/Annotator.