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evening songs 

opus number
3, 9, 31 
Burghauser catalogue number
61 
composed
June/July 1876 (?) (revisions: Op. 3: 1881 (?), Op. 9.: 1879/80 (?), Op. 31: 1882)
premiere - date and place
No. 3 + ?: 16 September 1882, Tabor 
premiere - performer(s)
Josef Lev, Antonin Dvorak 
text
Vitezslav Halek 
parts / movements
(Op. 3): 
  1. The stars that twinkle in the sky (Ty hvezdicky)
  2. I dreamed last night (Mne zdalo se)
  3. I am that fairy-tale knight (Ja jsem ten rytir)
  4. When God was in a happy mood (Když buh byl nejvic rozkochan)
(Op. 9):
  5. The soughing of the trees has ceased (Umlklo stromu sumeni)
  6. The spring came flying from afar (Prilitlo jaro zdaleka)
(Op. 31): 
  7. Visions of heaven I fondly paint (Kdyz jsem se dival do nebe)
  8. This I would ask each tiny bird (Vy mali, drobni ptackove)
  9. Like a linden tree I am (Jsem jako lipa kosata)
10. All ye that labour, come to me (Vy vsichni, kdo jste stisneni)
11. All through the night a bird will sing (Ten ptacek)
(without opus number):
12. Like the Moon (Tak jak ten mesic)  
duration
 approx. 28 min.

    


Evening Songs, written to poems from the collection of the same name by Vitezslav Halek, are thought to have originated in June and July 1876, namely during the period between the composition of the second and third series of Moravian Duets. This dating, however, is difficult to verify, and it is possible that the songs were, in fact, written several years earlier. One of the factors which support this view is the poems’ musical setting itself, which essentially lacks Dvorak’s characteristic means of expression and points more to an earlier stage of the composer’s musical development. It has also not been sufficiently proven whether all the twelve songs were written together as a cycle, or whether they emerged at different times. All of them are strophic, with a clearly-arranged piano accompaniment, and listeners will detect the influence of the German Romantics, particularly Schubert and Schumann.  
    No. 2

No. 7
Dvorak later revised the songs and published them successively in several editions with different opus numbers and with different publishers: in 1880 he published four songs as Op. 3 with Leipzig publisher Hofmeister; that same year he brought out two songs under opus number 9 with Schlesinger in Berlin, and then another five songs in 1883 as Op. 31 with Prague publisher Frantisek Urbanek. Only the last collection came out with the title Evening Songs, which is the title used today for all the others as well. Dvorak never offered the twelfth song “Like the Moon” for publication, having written the self-critical note “weak” into the manuscript. He dedicated the songs from opus 31 to his friend, baritone at the National Theatre Josef Lev. Lev also gave an acclaimed performance of the premiere of two of the songs – with the composer at the keyboard – held in Tabor at a “Dvorak Evening” on 16 September 1882. For the same performer Dvorak also arranged the piano part of two songs (“I dreamed last night” and “I am that fairy-tale knight”) for small orchestra. This version was premiered in Prague on 6 December that same year with the National Theatre Orchestra and conductor Adolf Cech.