Arrangements and transcriptions of original compositions for different performing forces are nothing unusual in the history of music. They helped popularise works and expand repertoire. Dvorák’s ingenious melodic inventiveness places him firmly in the category of “arrangeable” composers. His evergreen repertoire pieces have been subjected to a plethora of instrumental and vocal arrangements, be it the Largo from his “New World Symphony”, Slavonic Dances, his Humoresque in G-flat major for piano, or “Songs my mother taught me” from Gypsy Songs. Our publishing house has recently published two new arrangements that faithfully and sensitively convey Dvorák’s style, and they have already entered the practice and are a welcome enrichment to the concert repertoires of violoncellists and violists.
The first series of Slavonic Dances op. 46 (1878) for piano four-hand, alongside Moravian Duets, jumpstarted Dvorák’s dazzling international career practically at a moment’s notice. Dvorák swiftly prepared an orchestral version, and Slavonic Dances immediately set out on a triumphant campaign throughout the concert halls of Europe and America. The composer later wrote his second series of Slavonic Dances (1886–1887), which was given the opus number 72.
In 1891 Dvorák arranged the last, eighth dance of the first series for violoncello and piano for his friend, the cellist Hanuš Wihan. The eminent Czech composer Jirí Gemrot (1957) followed Dvorák’s impetus and adapted the remaining seven dances for the same two instruments. However, he did not base his arrangements on Dvorák’s original works for four-hand piano but on the orchestral versions instead, to bring them as close as possible to the composer’s idea of timbre. This is the first complete edition of the first series of Slavonic Dances arranged for violoncello and piano, which maintains Slavonic Dance in G minor no. 8 in Dvorák’s original arrangement.
Slavonic Dances op. 46
Slavonic Dances op. 72
When Simrock first published Romantic Pieces op. 75 (1887) for violin and piano, the magazine Dalibor predicted they would “sooner or later pave their way through all the salons”. The melodic and poetic qualities of these charming compositions won them a permanent place in the repertoires of violinists. Now they may be played by violists as well, thanks to Bella and Semjon Kalinowsky, who arranged them for viola and piano based on the version of the complete edition. Romantic Pieces were written as a minute occasional pieces for amateur performances at home, and so they are not technically demanding and can also be played by students and enthusiasts.