From the Bohemian Forest (Ze Šumavy), Op. 68, B133

Opus number


Burghauser catalogue number


Date of composition

September (?) 1883 – 12 January 1884

Premiere - date and place

Nos. 1, 2 and 3: 23 April 1884, Prague

Premiere performer(s)

Nos. 1, 2 and 3: Karel Kovařovic, Antonín Dvořák

First edition

Simrock, 1884, Berlin

Parts / movements

1. In the Spinning Room (Na přástkách) (Allegro molto)
2. By the Black Lake (U Černého jezera) (Lento)
3. Witches' Sabbath (Noc filipojakubská) (Molto vivace)
4. On the Watch (Na čekání) (Allegro comodo)
5. Silent Woods (Klid) (Lento e molto cantabile)
6. From Troubled Times (Z bouřlivých dob) (Allegro con fuoco)


approx. 28 min.

On the instigation of his publisher Simrock, Dvořák began writing a new cycle of pieces for four-hand piano in September 1883. He decided that it was to consist of characteristic images from Šumava (an extensive mountain range and forest in South Bohemia), which he occasionally liked to visit in the company of friends, including Leoš Janáček. However, he was at a loss what to call the individual parts of the cycle and requested help from his librettist, Marie Červinková-Riegrová. On the basis of her suggestions, he then wrote a cycle of charming musical sketches depicting the evocative atmosphere of the Šumava region in all its various forms. The individual parts of the cycle do not follow a specific storyline; their titles should be taken merely as an indication of the inspiration that lies within them. Here, Dvořák produced wonderful musical images of great poetic depth in some of the most intimate expressions of his compositional mastery. From a formal point of view, the individual pieces are written in three-part A-B-A form and expand upon strong musical ideas within a broad palette of moods. The composer later arranged the most enchanting part of the cycle, Silent Woods, for cello and piano, or with orchestral accompaniment. The first three parts of the cycle were performed for the first time in Prague on 23 April 1884 by the composer together with Karel Kovařovic. They were published that same year by Simrock. 

from the diary of Marie Červinková-Riegrová:
“He would now like to write some pieces for four-hand piano, ‘Charakterstücke’, to be called ‘Aus dem Böhmerwald’ – From the Bohemian Forest. This is apparently what Simrock wants. ‘But I do not feel inclined to comply with his wishes,’ Dvořák stated. ‘I have yet to come up with any appealing titles.’ Schumann had apparently used up all the suitable titles Dvořák had in mind, and it was difficult to find new, characteristic, and original names for this colourful collection of piano pieces. I said to him: ‘It doesn’t matter about the titles, it is the music which counts.’ ‘The music isn’t the problem,’ Dvořák answered, ‘I have the music, but I haven’t any titles.’ He then asked me to think up some suitable poetic designations as images, just a few words to conjure up these images, and his imagination would do the rest. As I discovered, he merely wished to have some kind of motif, a tonic that would trigger ideas, you might say. I told him that I would do it.”