Cypresses for String Quartet, B. 152 - Dvořák

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Antonín Dvořák
Ji, Musicians from Marlboro
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston

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Dvořák's String Quartet movements now bearing the title Cypresses (Czech: Cypřiše) are String Quartet versions of 12 of his 18 love songs, B11, of 1865 -also titled Cypresses. These arrangements are numbered B.152 and date from 1887. The 12 pieces he selected for arrangement from B. 11 are Nos. 2-4, 6-9, 12, 14, and 16-18; the original songs are for solo voice and piano, and are settings of poems by Gustav Pfleger-Moravsky.


10 of these (1-9 & 11) were edited by Joseph Suk and published by Hudební Matice Umělecké Besedy in 1921; the complete set of 12 appear in Soubourne kritické vydání, the Complete Critical Edition, from 1957. They were originally titled Echos of Songs, later Evening Songs, under which name numbers 1-3 & 9 were given their 1st performance by Karel Ondricek, Jan Pelikan, Petr Mares & Alois Neruda, at Umelecka Beseda, 6/1/1888. Dvořák Inscribed them "These little compositions were originally songs(18), four of which were published as Op2 by Stary... I wrote them in 1865 and now, after 22 years, I have arranged them for quartet under the title 'The Echo of Songs'". They were given their present title by Joseph Suk.


The original songs are clearly recognisable in these String Quartet arrangements, with melodic line, rhythm and harmony unchanged. For No.11, Dvořák changed the key, and half of them he extended by repetition, mostly with some interchange of allocation of lines to the different instruments. The full version of the Cypresses includes the following pieces:

1. I Know that My Love to Thee (Já vím, že v sladké nadeji)
2. Death Reigns in Many a Human Breast (V tak mnohém srdci mrtvo jest)
3. When Thy Sweet Glances Fall on Me (V té sladké moci ocí tvých)
4. Love Will Never Lead Us to that Happy End (O naši lásce nekvete to vytouzené stestí)
5. The Old Letter in My Book (Zde hledím na ten drahý list)
6. O, Lovely Golden Rose (Ó zlatá ruže, spanilá)
7. I Wander Often Past Yonder House (Kol domu se ted potácím)
8. In The Deepest Forest Glade I Stand (Zde v lese u potoka)
9. Thou Only, Dear One (Ó duše drahá jedinká)
10. There Stands an Ancient Rock (Tam stojí stará skála)
11. Nature Lies Peaceful in Slumber and Dreaming (Nad krajem vévodi lehký spánek)
12. You Ask Why My Songs (Ty se ptás, proc moje zpevy)
The text above is offered by courtesy of Wikipedia, under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

Classical music piece performed by: Musicians from Marlboro
Licensed by: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston
Music license: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Portrait by courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France

Classical music piece ID: HDCM0714

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