The Spectre’s Bride

August 15, 2019

The Spectres Bride

In 1883 Dvorak received a commission from England to write a major vocal-instrumental work which was to be performed at the music festival in Birmingham. Dvorak agreed to the commission. He had spoken to his librettist Marie Cervinkova-Riegrova of his intention to write an oratorio based on a theme taken from Czech history. He had, for instance, considered the story of St Wenceslas or Jan Hus but, in the end, he turned to the literary works of K. J. Erben, from whose Bouquet he chose the ballad The Spectre’s Bride. He worked on his composition from April to November 1884 and the cantata was published by Novello the following year.

Antonin Dvorak to his friend Alois Gobl:

“I am delighted that my new work is coming along so well; I plan to finish the sketch this week and the rest should go like clockwork. I thank God that my guardian spirit hasn’t abandoned me; and why would he, when I’m so fond of him. I think (and you’ll see I’m not deceiving myself) that this work surpasses all my others in every respect, including Stabat. But I ask you not to mention this to anyone, I wouldn’t want people to think I’m blowing my own trumpet! – you know me.”

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