The Golden Spinning Wheel (Dvořák)

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The Golden Spinning Wheel (Czech: Zlatý kolovrat), Op. 109, B. 197, is a symphonic poem for orchestra by Antonín Dvořák, composed from January to April 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 fully public premiere was in London on 26 October 1896, under the baton of Hans Richter.[1]

It is scored for piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, cor anglais, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, bass drum, cymbals, triangle, harp, and strings. A typical performance lasts approximately 27 minutes.

Dvořák's son-in-law, composer Josef Suk, made a shortened version of the piece. His cuts are taken in Talich's recording and some of them in Chalabala's. The piece is now usually performed complete.


While out riding, a king happens upon a young lady, Dornička, and falls in love with her. He asks her step-mother to bring her to his castle. The step-mother and step-sister set off towards the king's castle with Dornička. On the way, they murder her, hack off her feet and hands, and cut out her eyes. The step-sister poses as Dornička and marries the king, after which he is called away to battle.

Meanwhile, in the forest, a magician finds Dornička's remains and 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 and hears the golden spinning wheel tell the gruesome details of Dornička's murder. The king goes off into the forest to be reunited with her. The two murderesses are thrown to the wolves.

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