Moravian Duets, Op. 38
Length: 6 minutes
Orchestration (by Iván Fischer): 2 flutes, clarinet, 2 bassoons, horn, and strings
First Los Angeles Philharmonic performances
The Moravian Duets, Op. 38, were a follow-up in 1879 to the successful Op. 32 set published by Simrock in 1878. Dvorák had written many more duets than those included in the Op. 32 set, which explains why Op. 38 was actually composed before Op. 32 was printed. Another of these duets, "Na Tej Nasej Strese" (There on our roof), never found its way to Simrock and was published in Prague in 1882 in an album issued by the Czech Artists' Union. Three duets from Op. 38 and "Na Tej Nasej Strese" will be heard interleaved with three selections from Smetana's My Fatherland on the second half of this program.
Dvorák wrote the duets for a student, Marie Neffová. Marie and her husband, a wealthy Moravian merchant, enjoyed singing together with Dvorák accompanying. They blew through the limited available repertory (which was all in German) quickly, so Dvorák composed some new settings of Moravian folk poetry. The music, with its straightforward vocal writing (the two voices are almost always together and frequently sing in thirds), is aimed squarely at the domestic market. The duets are mostly strophic in form, with the exception of the third song, which is in three parts, with a central andante refrain (at the words "Vinku muj") framed by faster, folk-dance flavored sections.
- John Mangum is the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association's Program Designer/Annotator.