Dvorak Piano Quintet no 2 Analysis (mvts 1and 2)

At Curtis this summer, I played the Dvorak Piano Quintet. This piece is so special and it is important to play it well.

The first movement begins with a cello solo, acting as an introduction to the whole piece. This remeinds me of someone floating down a river. The solo is interrupted by the contrasting minor melody brought by the second violin. The movement switches between major and minor, ultimately ending in A major. I think of these switches as multiple people having an argument. This movement has many different melodies that come in sequences or change keys. The melodies alternate between the instruments and feature odd instrument duets. The first and second violins are often in octaves. The second violin played the lower octave and should play much louder because the register of the first violin is higher. The second violin can also guide the first violin when he or she is playing very high on the violin. This movement has a rhythmic motif of dotted quarter note eigth note. The eigth note should be placed later and made very short when this rhythym is played. Near the end of the movement, you can feel the tension building and all of the instruments hold a whole note before moving to a dotted half note. This is the climax of the entire peice and this is when the key is settled in A major. Then the movement comes to a crashing end in A major.

The second movement is a dumka, which means thought or melancholy. This movement is written in an ABACABA form (the letters refer to different themes that return). The first entrance is like a funeral march and is based around the beat. Then comes the B theme which is very different. This theme, featuring a violin duet, is in major and reminds me of dancing. Then the A theme reutrns but this time, it is expanded on. The C theme is the A theme pieced together. Dvorak uses a small part of the first theme to create this folky, and new theme. Then the A theme returns again almost to show the similarities between the rhythmic structures in the C theme at that of the original theme. Then the B theme returns, this time in a differnt key. After this, the A theme comes back for the final time, and ends with another development on the very first part of the A theme.

This quintet has so many small details that if noticed, really bring out the true intentions of the piece. Dvorak had many cultural influences from European, to folk music, to Asian culture, and African American cultures.These influences are what makes Dvorak’s music so unique and colorful.

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