Waltzes, Op. 54, B101

Opus number


Burghauser catalogue number


Date of composition

1 December 1879 – 17 January 1880

Premiere - date and place


Premiere performer(s)


First edition

Simrock, 1880, Berlin

Parts / movements

1. Moderato
2. Allegro con fuoco
3. Poco allegro
4. Allegro vivace
5. Allegro
6. Allegro
7. Allegro
8. Allegro vivace


approx. 24 min.

Dvořák had already been considering writing a cycle of piano waltzes in the first half of 1879 and they were probably intended for home music-making. He discussed their publication with his Berlin publisher Simrock who suggested that, instead of the simple title “Waltzes”, the cycle should be given a more original (more marketable) name, such as “Moravian home music”. This proposal was undeniably prompted by the increasing international popularity of Dvořák’s Moravian Duets and other works inspired by Slavonic folklore. Earlier sources on Dvořák usually state that the Waltzes came about after a request from Lumír magazine, who asked Czech composers to write fitting dance music for a ball organised for the 30th anniversary of Narodní beseda. In fact, this commission possibly ultimately called to mind something Dvořák had planned previously. In November 1879 he had written a series of Viennese-style orchestral waltzes with a final coda. However, he then realised that these pieces also contained elements which were not particularly suitable for the given purpose, so he wrote a new work for the ball, intended purely as dance music, and called it Prague Waltzes. Dvořák then transformed the original score into an eight-part piano cycle of concert waltzes. He deliberately kept these three-part pieces short and simple, free of flamboyant virtuoso stylisation; instead, in his own inimitable way, he focused on creating magical melodies, with alternating moods. The cycle was published by Simrock in 1880 with the clear-cut title Waltzes; Dvořák did not agree to the designation “Czech” or “Moravian”, on the grounds that the waltz was a German dance.