Nocturne in B major, Op. 40, B47
Burghauser catalogue number
Date of composition
1875 (?) (revision 1882 / 1883 (?))
Premiere - date and place
before 15 May 1879, Nice
Baron Dervies's Orchestra, conductor Karel Kucera (?
Bote & Bock, 1883, Berlin
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. 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.