5th symphony (Dvořák)

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The Symphony No. 5 F major op.. 76 is a symphony of Dvořák . It was published as the composer's 3rd symphony during the composer's lifetime. Despite its higher number of opus, it was written before the 6th symphony (op. 60) and the 7th symphony (op. 70) . The work is dedicated to the conductor Hans von Bülow .


The 5th symphony was written in the summer of 1875. There was about a year between the completion of his 4th symphony and the new symphony, in which Dvořák found an even more personal and sophisticated style of composition. The 5th Symphony is superior to its predecessors in terms of maturity and perfection of the musical form. Like the following 6th symphony , this symphony also has a strong pastoral and typically Bohemian character, which is why Dvořák's pastoral is sometimes used in connection with the 5th symphony . This can be related to the fact that the composer mostly retired to a country estate in Vysoká u Příbramě in the summer in order to be able to compose undisturbed. The 5th Symphony was also composed in the summer of 1875 in a quiet, rural setting.

There was an unusually long period of about four years between its completion and its premiere. In the meantime u. a. Johannes Brahms helped the aspiring young composer achieve his international breakthrough. On March 25, 1879, it was premiered in Prague under the direction of Adolf Čech.

To the music


2 flutes , 2 oboes , 2 clarinets (2nd also bass clarinet ), 2 bassoons , 4 horns , 2 trumpets , 3 trombones , timpani , triangle and strings .

1st movement: Allegro ma non troppo

Dvorak Symphony Topics.pdf

The main movement begins with a pastoral theme in the woodwinds, which is quickly picked up and intensified by the whole orchestra. A second, accelerating thought by the orchestra is then presented and processed immediately. This second theme also has the upper hand in the implementation . The pastoral sound is always retained throughout the movement. The first movement finally fades away in piano with the last recitation of the main theme in the horns.

2nd movement: Andante con moto

Dvorak Symphony Topics.pdf

The andante begins with a sad, lyrical theme played by the violoncello . It is a typical trait in Dvořák's compositional style to transfer important and sustaining passages to the cello, for example the presentation of main themes. The topic is presented and introduced extensively before a clearly separated second, lighter part begins in the woodwind. The strings play an accompanying role in the pizzicato style . A sudden orchestral tutti then leads to a retarding moment before the lyrical first theme, now played around with figures in the flutes and the strings, reports back. It leads to a dramatic and throbbing climax that is reminiscent of the beginning of the 1st Symphony by Johannes Brahms . Then the andante ends softly with the first theme.

3rd movement: Allegro scherzando

Dvorak Symphony Topics.pdf

The following Allegro scherzando fits seamlessly into the series of Dvořák's scherzi from his other symphonies. A cheerful and particularly bohemian-national style are characteristic of this. The movement begins with an Andante con moto, quasi l'istesso tempo , a questioning and hesitant gesture by the woodwinds, which the cellos respond by quoting the lyrical and formative theme of the second movement. Only now can the cheerful and vocal Scherzo theme prevail. The triangle accompanies it in a few moments. The theme runs through almost all parts of the orchestra before a dance-like but reserved trio begins. With the repetition of the first part, the sentence ends cheerfully.

4th movement: Finale, Allegro molto

Dvorak Symphony Topics.pdf

The form of the finale cannot be clearly defined and alternates between sonata movement form and rondo . The movement begins abruptly with the moving main theme, which is first introduced in the lower strings. The repetition throughout the orchestra suggests some contrapuntal shifts. After a short pause, the theme returns hectically performed by the strings. Only now can a timid second theme be imagined, which is more like an "endless melody" in Wagner's style. This topic also comes to a standstill before the muffled horn calls cause a strange, intertwined change in volume and speed and lead back to the first topic. A third theme, which has a calming character, appears and is repeated. Again the horn call leads to a climax and the return of the main theme. A final resting point leads to the coda , in which the beginning of the main theme of the first movement is heard again, which leads the movement to a jubilant end.


The 5th symphony was well received by the Prague public when it was first performed on March 25, 1879, but was not celebrated as frenetically as other symphonies by Dvořák. Today it is also not one of the master's most frequently performed symphonies, but it can still be heard regularly in the concert halls.

Dvořák's publisher Fritz Simrock owes the comparatively high number of opus 76 to the work . For technical reasons, he decided to publish the symphony as Dvořák's third and with a higher number of opuses. The composer originally intended opus number 24 for the work, which would have been more appropriate chronologically. Simrock, however, prevailed against Dvořák's will. Thus the two subsequent, later symphonies have lower opus numbers.


  • Hansjürgen Schaefer: Concert book for orchestral music A – F. VEB German publishing house for music, Leipzig 1958.
  • Alfred Beaujean in: Lexicon Orchestermusik Romantik , ed. von Wulf Konold, Munich: Piper 1989, Vol. 1, pp. 195-198
  • Harenberg concert guide. Harenberg Kommunikation, Dortmund 1998, ISBN 3-611-00535-5 .

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