Piano Quintet No. 1 in A major, Op. 5, B28

Opus number


Burghauser catalogue number


Date of composition

August (?) - September (?) 1872 (revision: 1887)

Premiere - date and place

22 November 1872, Prague

Premiere performer(s)

Vojtech Hrimaly, Lederer, Josef Krehan, Alois Neruda, Karel Slavkovsky

First edition

SNKLHU, 1959, Prague

Main key

A major

Parts / movements

1. Allegro ma non troppo
2. Andante sostenuto
3. Finale. Allegro con brio


approx. 28 min.

Like Dvorak’s other cyclical works from the early 1870s, his first piano quintet from 1872 also has only three movements. At this time he was still considering his approach to the traditional four-movement sonata cycle and, as a rule, he would combine the scherzo and the final movement. Apart from related formal issues, all his works from this period also share a similar mood and expression: Romantic pathos in the first movements, a more sombre tone for the second movements, and joyous final movements. Unlike his previous chamber works, however, the thematic material in the piano quintet is more consolidated, the form is more transparent and more vibrant. The piece is proof of the waning influence of the German Neo-Romantics on Dvorak’s work, and also a testimony of his great endeavour to formulate his own conception of musical expression, which is already apparent in the final movement. In its original version, the quintet was first performed in Prague on 22 November 1872 at the first of a series of musical soirees arranged by music critic and organiser Ludevit Prochazka. We no longer have this original version; the autograph went missing during Dvorak’s lifetime. When, in 1887, the composer decided to revise some of his very early works, he had to request a copy from Prochazka: “My dear friend! Do you remember that quintet (A major) with piano which, thanks to your efforts, was performed in Prague for the first time, about 14 years ago? I cannot find the score; I only know that you had the quintet copied, so perhaps you still have it? If that is the case, I would be very grateful if I could borrow it, I would have it copied as well. These days, I like to take a look at some of my old sins every now and again, and it’s been such a long time since I last saw this one.” Prochazka lent Dvorak his copy and the composer was thus able to make a few deletions and revisions. This revised version, however, was never played during Dvorak’s lifetime; its premiere was performed on 29 March 1922 by students at the Prague Conservatoire. The work was not published until 1959 as part of a critical edition of Dvorak’s oeuvre.