Carnival : Work information

Antonín (Leopold) Dvorák ( Music, Images,)
Performed by
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Paavo Järvi (Conductor)

This work

Work name
Work number
Op. 92
1891-00-00 02:00:00

This recording

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Alan Peters
Floating Earth
Recording date

Track listing

  • Carnival Overture 9:37 min


1891 saw Dvorak embark on a trilogy of concert overtures to celebrate 'Nature, Life and Love'. Unfortunately, only the second of these, the Carnival Overture, has found a permanent place in the repertoire. All three overtures were first performed together on 28 April 1892 in Prague.

The Carnival Overture's exuberence is immediately infectious and it would be hard to find a more energetic and vibrant evocation of the joys of life. The serene middle section of the overture is particularly beautiful: the cor anglais quotes from the first overture in the trilogy, In nature's realm, as a solo violin intones a wistful melody. The vigorous music of the first section returns to bring the overture to a glorious close.

The Composers

Antonín (Leopold) Dvorák

Born near Prague, Dvorák studied the violin with his local school master. Then, between 1857 and 1859, he attended the Prague Organ School. He was influenced by the Czech composer Smetana who, from 1866, directed the Opera Orchestra in which Dvorák played the viola. From about 1873, he devoted most of his life to composition. He won the Austrian State Stipendium three times, in 1874, 1876 and 1877. This got the attention of the composer Johannes Brahms , who in 1878 arranged for the publisher Simrock to publish some of Dvorák’s works. Under this arrangement, Dvorák’s music began to be performed throughout Europe. Some of these early works include the Slavonic Dances, the Symphony No. 6 and the Stabat Mater. He received several commissions, particularly in England, where he was very popular and much admired. He was also awarded an honorary doctorate by Cambridge University.

In 1891 Dvorák became a Professor of Composition at the Prague Conservatoire, and before leaving for the USA he toured Bohemia playing the new Dumky Trio. From 1892 until 1895 he was the Director of the new National Conservatory in New York, teaching composition. During this period of his life, his compositions show his deep interest in American folk music. These include the famous Symphony No. 9 ('From the New World'), the String Quartet in F, the String Quintet in E flat and the Cello Concerto.

Homesickness took him back to Prague, where he began to write symphonic poems. He received many honours in his own country and resisted invitations by Brahms to move to Vienna where he was only grudgingly accepted. His attempts at dramatic music were eventually rewarded with the success of the opera Rusalka (1901). He died in 1904, shortly after the first performances of his last opera, Armida. The late 19th century brought an increasing awareness of national identity to various ethnic groups in Europe and Dvorák’s musical career was influenced by the spirit of Bohemian nationalism.

Related Composers: Smetana, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Wagner