Songs on the Words of the Dvůr Králové Manuscript, Op. 7, B30

Opus number


Burghauser catalogue number


Date of composition

No. 2: 2 February 1872
Nos. 1 and 3-5: 14 September - 21 September 1872 (revision: 1879)
No. 6 : ?

Premiere - date and place

No. 3: 24 April 1873, Jindrichuv Hradec
No. 5: 21 April 1874, Prague
complete performance: ?

Premiere performer(s)

No. 3: ?
No. 5: Marta Prochazkova, Karel Slavkovsky
complete performance: ?

First edition

No. 3: Dalibor, 7 March 1873
complete edition: Emanuel Starý, 1873, Praha

Author of the text

Vaclav Hanka

Parts / movements

1. The Cuckoo (Zezhulice)
2. The Forsaken (Opuscena)
3. The Lark (Skrivanek)
4. The Rose (Roze)
5. The Bouquet (Kytice)
6. The Strawberries (Jahody)


approx. 16 min.

In deciding to write a musical setting of poems from the Dvur Kralove Manuscript, Dvorak joined the ranks of a series of artists who were inspired by this ingenious forgery in their own work. At the time Dvorak was writing his composition, however, the Manuscript was still regarded as the pride of Czech national literature and, as such, one may consider its musical setting as an expression of the composer’s patriotic sentiments. The Songs were written in 1872 and are an important testimony of the development of his compositional style as one of the first works in which Dvorak turned away from German Neo-Romanticism and sought to establish his own distinctive brand of music. Dvorak wrote settings for all six love poems from the Manuscript, using a broad palette of compositional approaches: the first three songs are strophic in character, and the second set of three are through-composed; some of the songs (in particular, “The Strawberries”) are reminiscent of folk songs, while others are distinctive for their imitative qualities in the piano accompaniment (imitation of the sound of the cuckoo call in the song “The Cuckoo”); certain songs (primarily “The Bouquet”) are constructed upon a daring harmonic scheme. This last aspect was slated by period critics for what they termed the “unseemly modernisation” of ancient texts. This collection was the first ever work by Dvorak to appear in print: the song “The Lark” was published on 7 March 1873 as a supplement to the tenth issue of Dalibor magazine and, two months later, the entire cycle was brought out by Prague publisher Emanuel Stary.