Nocturne in B major, Op. 40, B47

Opus number


Burghauser catalogue number


Date of composition

1875 (?) (revision 1882/1883 (?))

Premiere - date and place

before 15 May 1879, Nice

Premiere performer(s)

Baron Dervies's Orchestra, conductor Karel Kučera (?)

First edition

Bote & Bock, 1883, Berlin

Main key

B major


violins, violas, cellos, double basses


approx. 9 min.

This piece of music was originally the slow movement Andante religioso from the String Quartet in E minor dated 1870. Dvořák 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 Dvořák 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.