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 Kovarovic, Antonin Dvorak

First edition

Simrock, 1884, Berlin

Parts / movements

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


approx. 28 min.

On the instigation of his publisher Simrock, Dvorak 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 Sumava (an extensive mountain range and forest in South Bohemia), which he occasionally liked to visit in the company of friends, including Leos Janacek. However, he was at a loss what to call the individual parts of the cycle and requested help from his librettist, Marie Cervinkova-Riegrova. On the basis of her suggestions, he then wrote a cycle of charming musical sketches depicting the evocative atmosphere of the Sumava 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, Dvorak 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 Kovarovic. They were published that same year by Simrock. 

from the diary of Marie Cervinkova-Riegrova:

“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,’ Dvorak stated. ‘I have yet to come up with any appealing titles.’ Schumann had apparently used up all the suitable titles Dvorak 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,’ Dvorak 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.”