Three Modern Greek Poems, Op. 50, B84a, B84b

Opus number


Burghauser catalogue number

84a, 84b

Date of composition

completed 22 August 1878

Premiere - date and place

orchestral version: 17 November 1878, Prague
piano version: No. 1: 29 June 1879, Turnov
piano version: complete performance: ?

Premiere performer(s)

orchestral version: Josef Lev, Provisional Theatre Orchestra, conductor Antonín Dvořák
piano version: No. 1: Alois Göbl, piano: Antonín Dvořák
piano version: complete performance: ?

First edition

orchestral version: not yet published
piano version: Hainauer, 1883, Wrocław


Modern Greek folk poetry, Czech translation: Václav Bolemír Nebeský

Parts / movements

1. Klepht Song (Koljas)
2. Nereids (Nereidy)
3. Parga's Lament (Žalozpěv Pargy)


approx. 13 min.

Dvořák wrote the cycle Three Modern Greek Poems in the summer of 1878. He took his literary source from a collection of Greek folk poems translated into Czech, published in 1864 by poet Václav Bolemír Nebeský as Modern Greek Folk Songs. Dvořák chose three poems of a predominantly balladic character with dramatic endings, aspects which he further emphasised in their musical settings: all three are composed in a minor key, the music is restless and undergoes various unusual modulations. The composer’s endeavour to emulate the rare temperament of modern Greek poetry gave rise to a largely “un-Dvořákian” interpretation, which is probably the reason this song cycle tends to be overlooked. The work was premiered at Dvořák’s first independent concert on 17 November 1878, at which the composer was introduced to the Prague public as both composer and conductor for the first time. The songs were performed by baritone at the National Theatre Josef Lev, in an arrangement for voice and orchestra which is no longer in existence. The piano version has survived in the composer’s manuscript, as well as in printed form, published by Hainauer in 1883.