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nocturne in b major

COMPOSED 1875 (?) (revision 1882 / 1883 (?))
PREMIERE - DATE AND PLACE before 15 May 1879, Nice
PREMIERE - PERFORMER(S) Baron Dervies's Orchestra, conductor Karel Kucera (?)
FIRST EDITION Bote & Bock, 1883, Berlin
MAIN KEY B major
INSTRUMENTATION violins, violas, cellos, double basses
DURATION approx. 9 min.

This piece of music was originally the slow movement Andante religioso from the String Quartet in E minor dated 1870. Dvorak then used it as the free movement in his String Quintet in G major. But it didn’t find a permanent home there, either, after Dvorak decided in 1883 to rework it into a piece entitled Nocturne. It exists in three versions: for orchestra (B47), for violin and piano (B48) and for four-hand piano (B48b). The piece is serious in tone, with an almost unchanging expression throughout. The endless melody in the upper voice takes small melodic steps above a monotone quaver accompaniment and a sustained deep bass F sharp. This combination of expressive means creates an almost hypnotic effect throughout the piece.