Chamber works constitute a significant – in fact, numerically dominant – part of Dvorák’s artistic legacy. His first numbered opus is String Quintet no. 1 in A minor, and the composer’s prolific chamber output is culminated in 1895 by his last, masterful String Quartet no. 14 in A-flat major op. 105. Dvorák enjoyed his works for chamber ensembles and composed them with pleasure, even the occasional ones intended for the home performances of his friends. Of one such “little piece”, he remarked in a letter to the publisher Simrock: “I am writing some short Bagatelles at the moment, just think, for two violins and viola. My work brings me as much pleasure as if I were writing a major symphony – what do you say to that? They are, of course, aimed at amateur musicians, but didn’t Beethoven and Schumann also once write little pieces, and look what they came up with!”
When Dvorák began to write his tenth string quartet in late 1878, none of the previous nine had been published or even performed yet. But String Quartet No. 10 in E-flat major op. 51 proved to be a radical turning point. Encouraged by the massive success of Moravian Duets, Slavonic Dances, Slavonic Rhapsodies, or String Sextet op. 48, the publisher Simrock immediately sent Dvorák’s new Quartet in E-flat major, dubbed “Slavonic”, to the printing press. This first edition, the autograph, and other extant sources served as the basis for the new Urtext edition by Hartmut Schick.
After many decades, a modern critical edition is also finally in the works for String Quartet no. 12 in F major op. 96 “American”, with a new Urtext edition currently being prepared by Michael Kube. Quartet in F major is the first of two compositions written in one of the happiest periods of the composer’s life, during his summer stay in Spillville, Iowa, in 1893; the second is String Quintet in E-flat major op. 97 with two violas. Both works exude an extraordinarily joyous mood, and String Quartet in F major is one of the most performed chamber compositions in the world thanks to its astounding melodic inventiveness and disarmingly spontaneous musicality.
Although Dvorák only composed a single piano concerto, the instrument enjoys considerable attention throughout his oeuvre. His many works for solo piano are exemplified by the universally popular cycles Poetic Tone Pictures, Silhouettes, or the four-hand Slavonic Dances or From the Bohemian Forest, or the veritably world-class smash hit Humoresque in G-flat major op. 101 no. 7, which has received a new Urtext edition care of Petra Kvasnicková and Markéta Štedronská.
Chamber works with piano are also popular repertoire pieces. The category comprises two piano quartets, two piano quintets, and three piano trios, of which Dumky op. 90 can be considered Dvorák’s magnum opus of the genre. He wrote the masterful piano trio in a relatively short period from November 1890 to February 1891 in Prague. Our new Urtext edition by Christoph Flamm publishes, for the first time ever, the draft of Dumka no. 3 (including parts) in its initial, previously unknown version.
A major publishing achievement is the premiere edition of Romance in F minor op. 11 for violin in the composer’s own arrangement with piano accompaniment, which has never been published before and which was prepared according to the autograph by Jonáš Hájek. Dvorák wrote the piano version before the Romance even came to print (Simrock, 1879) in its concert form with orchestral accompaniment. Compared to other widely available piano reductions, our new edition contains a more authentic version while still being able to serve as a piano reduction to the orchestral version.
One rare gem in our Dvorák catalogue is the composer’s little-known one-minute miniature Fanfares B 167. The occasional piece for four trumpets and timpani was composed for the festive opening of the Prague Regional Jubilee Exhibition in 1891.
Our catalogue contains Dvorák’s complete chamber and piano works, which are either being gradually issued in completely new and exacting Urtext editions or in re-editions that correspond to contemporary performance practice, with new prefaces written by the younger generation of leading Dvorák scholars.