The Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in G minor, Op. 33, was the first of three concertos that Antonín Dvořák completed—it was followed by a violin concerto and then a cello concerto—and the piano concerto is probably the least known and least performed.
As the eminent music critic Harold C. Schonberg put it, Dvořák wrote "an attractive Piano Concerto in G minor with a rather ineffective piano part, a beautiful Violin Concerto in A minor, and a supreme Cello Concerto in B minor".
Dvořák composed his piano concerto from late August through 14 September 1876. Its autograph version contains many corrections, erasures, cuts and additions, the bulk of which were made in the piano part. The work was premiered in Prague on 24 March 1878, with the orchestra of the Prague Provisional Theatre conducted by Adolf Čech with the pianist Karel Slavkovsky.
Dvořák himself realized that he had not created a piece in which the piano does battle with the orchestra, as it is not a virtuosic piece. As Dvořák wrote: "I see I am unable to write a Concerto for a virtuoso; I must think of other things."
What Dvořák composed, instead, was a symphonic concerto in which the piano plays a leading part in the orchestra, rather than opposed to it.
In an effort to mitigate awkward passages and expand the pianist's range of sonorities, the Czech pianist and pedagogue Vilém Kurz undertook an extensive re-writing of the solo part; the Kurz revision is frequently performed today.
The concerto was championed for many years by the noted Czech pianist Rudolf Firkušný, who played it with many different conductors and orchestras around the world before his death in 1994. Once a student of Kurz, Firkušný performed the revised solo part for much of his life, turning towards the original Dvořák score later on in his concert career.
The Golden Spinning Wheel, Op. 109, B. 197, is a symphonic poem for orchestra by Antonín Dvořák, composed from January to April of 1896. The work is inspired by the poem of the same name found in Kytice, a collection of folk ballads by Karel Jaromír Erben.
A semi-public performance was given at the Prague Conservatory on 3 June 1896 conducted by Antonín Bennewitz. Its first full public premiere was in London on 26 October 1896, under the baton of Hans Richter.
While out riding, a king happens upon a young lady, Dornička, and falls in love with her. He requests her step-mother to bring her to his castle. The step-mother and step-sister set out taking Dornička to the king's castle. On the way, they murder her, hack off her feet and hands, and cut out her eyes. The step-sister poses as Dornička soon marrying the king, after which, he is called away to battle.
Meanwhile, in the forest, a magician has found Dornička's remains and he decides to bring her back to life. He sends a page to the castle to persuade the step-sister to part with "two feet" in return for a golden spinning wheel, "two hands" for a golden distaff and "two eyes" for a golden spindle. The body complete again, the magician brings Dornička back to life.
The king returns from battle to hear the golden spinning wheel tell the gruesome details of Dornička's murder. The king goes off into the forest to be reunited with her.
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