Cypresses (for string quartet), B152

Opus number

Burghauser catalogue number


Date of composition

21 April – 21 May 1887

Premiere - date and place

6 January 1888, Prague (Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 9)

Premiere performer(s)

Karel Ondříček, Jan Pelikán, Petr Mareš, Alois Neruda

First edition

SNKLHU, 1957, Prague

Parts / movements

1. Já vím, že v sladké naději (I know that on my love to thee) (Moderato)
2. V tak mnohém srdci mrtvo jest (Death reigns in many a human breast) (Allegro ma non troppo)
3. V té sladké moci očí tvých (When thy sweet glances on me fall) (Andante con moto)
4. Ó, naší lásce nekvete to vytoužené štěstí (Never will love lead us to that glad goal) (Poco adagio)
5. Zde hledím na tvůj drahý list (Here I gaze at that dear letter) (Andante)
6. Ó, zlatá růže spanilá (O charming, golden rose) (Andante moderato)
7. Kol domu se teď potácím (I wander oft past yonder house) (Andante con moto)
8. Zde v lese u potoka (In deepest forest glade I stand) (Lento)
9. Ó, duše drahá, jedinká (Thou only dear one, but for thee) (Moderato)
10. Tam stojí stará skála (There stands an ancient crag) (Andante maestoso)
11. Nad krajem vévodí lehký spánek (Nature lies peaceful in slumber and dreaming) (Allegro scherzando)
12. Ty se ptáš, proč moje zpěvy bouří (You ask why my songs are tempestuous) (Allegro animato)


approx. 36 min.

Throughout his life Dvořák kept returning to his cycle of eighteen songs Cypresses, which originated in 1865 and were inspired by his love for the actress Josefina Čermáková. He used some of its motifs for other works on several occasions, a prime example being his decision in 1887 to select twelve songs from the cycle as the base for an entirely original arrangement for string quartet. He retained the title of the songs and assembled them in such a way that this new version would also incorporate a fine balance of tempos and moods. He left the individual songs more or less in their original form, their melodies and harmonies unchanged, and only extended some of them via the use of repetition. The principal melodic line – originally for voice – is typically entrusted to a single instrument (generally the violin; in some cases the viola), with the other three forming the accompaniment. Perhaps due to the unusual form of the work, Dvořák’s publisher Simrock did not show any interest in its publication, thus Cypresses only came out in print after Dvořák’s death, in 1921, in a revision by Josef Suk