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Choral Songs for Male Voices

COMPOSED 12 January - 16 January 1877
PREMIERE - DATE AND PLACE 4 March 1877, Prague
PREMIERE - PERFORMER(S) Hlahol of Prague, conductor Karel Bendl
FIRST EDITION Hudebni matice, 1921, Prague
TEXT Nos. 1 and 2: Moravian folk poetry
No. 3: Adolf Heyduk
1. The Ferryman (Prevoznicek)
2. The Poisoning Sweetheart (Milenka travicka)
3. The Fiddler (Huslar)
approx. 11 min.


This cycle emerged during a three-year period (1876-1878) in which the composer wrote the large majority of his choral works. The piece is written for an unaccompanied four-part male choir. The first two songs, “The Ferryman” and “The Poisoning Sweetheart”, are set to Moravian folk texts which Dvorak selected from Frantisek Susil’s collection Moravian Folk Songs with Melodies Included in the Texts. In the second of these, Dvorak found an ingenious way to use the vocal lines to suggest the ringing of funeral bells in one of his most eloquent examples of imitation. For the third song, “The Fiddler”, the composer chose the poem of the same name by Adolf Heyduk. He used the melody from this song later on as the main theme for his orchestral Symphonic Variations, Op. 78