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In the late 1880s, Dvorák and his family lived in Prague in a building that also housed a chemistry student named Josef Kruis. Young Kruis was taking violin lessons from Jan Pelikan, an old friend of Dvorák’s from his days as a violist in the National Theater Orchestra. Listening to Kruis and Pelikan practicing together inspired the composer to write some trios for the unusual grouping of two violins and viola, in which he might join them.

The first of these was the Terzetto in C, Op. 74, composed during the second week of January 1887. Upon trying this tuneful, four-movement gem with his friends, however, he discovered that Kruis was not quite up to its technical requirements. He remedied the situation a few days later with a set of four Drobnosti (miniatures or trifles). By the end of the month he had further arranged these trio miniatures as the Romantic Pieces, Op. 75, for violin and piano. Op. 75 was published by Simrock in Berlin in 1887 — the miniatures, in their original trio scoring, had to wait until 1945 for publication. The four Romantic Pieces have proven popular with violinists. Dvoák’s characteristic melodiousness is fully evident, as is his gift to be simple in remarkably subtle ways.

— John Henken is Director of Publications for the Los Angeles Philharmonic