Stabat Mater (Dvořák)

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Title page of the score

Stabat Mater, Op. 58 (originally Op. 28),[1] B. 71, for soloists, choir and orchestra is an extended sacred cantata by the Czech composer Antonín Dvořák based on the text of the Latin Stabat Mater sequence. The work was sketched in 1876 and completed in 1877. The composer's first major religuous composition, it was premiered in Prague and soon also performed also Budapest and London, establishing international recognition. It has remained popular, performed and recorded frequently.


Dvořák began the composition of Stabat Mater in 1875, six month after the death of his daughter, Josefa, who was only two days old.[2][3] Stabat Mater is Dvořák's first work on a religious theme. He chose the work, unusually for him, without a commission.[2] The sketch was written between 19 February and 7 May 1876, and was dedicated to František Hušpauer "as a souvenir to the friend of his young days."[1] However, Dvořák had to postpone the orchestration of the work due to other obligations.[4] He returned to it 1877, when his two surviving children died within a short time of each other.[2][3] He completed the score on 13 November 1877 in Prague.[3]

The title page of the score of Stabat Mater. The remembrance of the performance in Worcester on 12 September 1884, with signatures of Antonín Dvořák and members of the orchestra.

The first performance took place in Prague on 23 December 1880[3] at the concert of the Association of Musical Artists. The performers included the operatic ensemble of the Czech Provisional Theatre, conducted by Adolf Čech,[5] with the soloists Eleanora Ehrenbergů, Betty Fibich, Antonín Vávra and Karel Čech. The composer Leoš Janáček conducted the work a year and half later, on 2 April 1882, in Brno. Performances abroad followed in Budapest and London,[1] where the composer was invited to conduct a performance at the Royal Albert Hall.[5]

The Stabat Mater was published in score, parts and a piano vocal score (arranged by Josef Zubatý) by the German publishing house N. Simrock in 1881. On a request from the publisher, Dvořák changed the opus number, which would have been 28, to 58 to give the work a more mature appearance.[1]

A piano version for chorus and vocal quartet, containing only seven movements, was recorded by Accentus/Equilbey with Brigitte Engerer, piano. Breitkopf published a critical edition.[1]

Structure and music[edit]

The composition consists of ten movements:

  1. Quartetto, Coro. Andante con moto ("Stabat Mater dolorosa")
  2. Quartetto. Andante sostenuto ("Quis est homo, qui non fleret")
  3. Coro. Andante con moto ("Eja, Mater, fons amoris")
  4. Basso solo, Coro. Largo ("Fac, ut ardeat cor meum")
  5. Coro. Andante con moto, quasi allegretto ("Tui nati vulnerati")
  6. Tenore solo, Coro. Andante con moto ("Fac me vere tecum flere")
  7. Coro. Largo ("Virgo virginum praeclara")
  8. Duo. Larghetto ("Fac, ut portem Christi mortem")
  9. Alto solo. Andante maestoso ("Inflammatus et accensus")
  10. Quartetto, Coro. Andante con moto ("Quando corpus morietur")

The music of the first and the last movements are thematically connected.[1]

The first movement is an extended sonata form in symphonic style. It opens with a long orchestral introduction, then repeated with the chorus. A contrasting second theme is introduced by the soloists. A development section leads to the return of the opening material.

The organ has an independent part accompanying the female semichorus in the fourth movement, and is not used otherwise.

Similarly, the cor anglais has a solo line in the opening of the second movement and is otherwise absent. Though not specified in the score, it can easily be played by one of the two oboists, as they are not playing during this section.

The final movement recalls the opening themes of the work, but then turns into the major key for a triumphant Amen fugue of considerable complexity.

The work is scored for an orchestra of two flutes, two oboes, cor anglais, two clarinets in A, two bassoons, four French horn (two in F, two in D), two trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, organ and strings.[1] The solos are written for soprano, tenor, alto, bass.[1]

The approximate duration of the work is 90 minutes.[3][1]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Döge, Klaus. "Antonín Dvořák (1841–1904) / Stabat mater Op. 58 / Urtext edited by Klaus Döge (solos,ch,orch) duration: 86'". Breitkopf & Härtel. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  2. ^ a b c "A Light in the Darkness: Dvořák's Stabat Mater". Houston Symphony. 2018. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e Vaughan, David (28 March 2005). "Music for Easter: Dvorak's Stabat Mater - one of the most powerful declarations of faith in musical history". Radio Prague. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  4. ^ "Antonín Dvořák (1841–1904) / Stabat mater Op. 58 / Urtext edited by Klaus Döge (solos,ch,orch) duration: 86'". Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Cookson, Michael (December 2015). "Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) / Stabat mater". Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  6. ^ WorldCat entry for Talich recording accessed 8 September 2017.
  7. ^ WorldCat entry for Smetacek recording accessed 8 September 2017.
  8. ^ WorldCat entry for Shaw recording accessed 8 September 2017.
  9. ^ The Classical Catalogue 1992. No. 153, June 1992, General Gramophone Publications Ltd, Harrow, UK
  10. ^ WorldCat entry for Macal recording accessed 8 September 2017.
  11. ^ WorldCat entry for Rilling recording accessed 8 September 2017.


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