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cypresses (for string quartet)

opus number
Burghauser catalogue number
152 
composed
21 April - 21 May 1887 
premiere - date and place
6 January 1888, Prague (Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 9) 
premiere - performer(s)
Karel Ondricek, Jan Pelikan, Petr Mares, Alois Neruda 
parts / movements
  1. I know that on my love to thee (Ja vim, ze v sladke nadeji) (Moderato)
  2. Death reigns in many a human breast (V tak mnohem srdci mrtvo jest)
      (Allegro ma non troppo)
  3. When thy sweet glances on me fall (V te sladke moci oci tvych
      (Andante con moto)
  4. Never will love lead us to that glad goal (O nasi lasce nekvete) (Poco adagio)
  5. Here I gaze at that dear letter (Zde hledim na ten drahy list) (Andante)
  6. O charming, golden rose (O zlata ruze spanila) (Andante moderato)
  7. I wander oft past yonder house (Kol domu se ted potacim
      (Andante con moto)
  8. In deepest forest glade I stand (Zde v lese u potoka) (Lento)
  9. Thou only dear one, but for thee (O duse draha jedinka) (Moderato)
10. There stands an ancient crag (Tam stojí stara skala) (Andante maestoso)
11. Nature lies peaceful in slumber and dreaming (Nad krajem vevodi lehky spanek)
      (Allegro scherzando)
12. You ask why my songs are tempestuous (Ty se ptas, proc moje zpevy)
      (Allegro animato)  
duration
approx. 36 min.


Throughout his life Dvorak kept returning to his cycle of eighteen songs Cypresses, which originated in 1865 and were inspired by his love for the actress Josefina Cermakova. He used some of its motifs for other works on several occasions, a prime example being his decision in 1887 to select twelve songs from the cycle as the base for an entirely original arrangement for string quartet. He retained the title of the songs and assembled them in such a way that this new version would also incorporate a fine balance of tempos and moods. He left the individual songs more or less in their original form, their melodies and harmonies unchanged, and only extended some of them via the use of repetition. The principal melodic line – originally for voice – is typically entrusted to a single instrument (generally the violin; in some cases the viola), with the other three forming the accompaniment. Perhaps due to the unusual form of the work, Dvorak’s publisher Simrock did not show any interest in its publication, thus Cypresses only came out in print after Dvorak’s death, in 1921, in a revision by Josef Suk