I. Moderato The first movement starts off the Serenade in the key of E major. The second violins and cellos introduce the lyrical main theme of the movement over an eighth note pulse played by the violas. The main theme is traded back and forth, and then the second violins play it under a soaring passage in the first violins. At measure 31, the movement modulates into G major and a new dancelike theme, based on a dotted eighth note/sixteenth note rhythm, is introduced. At measure 54, the movement modulates back into E major and we see the return of the primary theme. The movement ends on three E major chords.
II. Tempo di Valse The second movement, a waltz, opens with a lilting dance melody in C-sharp minor. The first section repeats, and the second section begins in E major. A string of eighth notes in the violins transitions into the second theme, also in E major. The first theme returns, and Part A is closed with a cadential fortissimo C-sharp minor chord. Part B opens with a modulation into the enharmonic parallel major of C-sharp minor, D-flat major. The theme of this section is developed, and then Part A returns. The movement ends on a C-sharp major chord.
III. Scherzo: Vivace The third movement is a lively, hyperactive Scherzo in F major. The theme is stated and subsequently developed in sections of different tempos and moods, including a foray into A major. The most monothematic movement yet, the scherzo ends with a coda combining material from the Scherzo and Trio.
IV. Larghetto The fourth movement of the Serenade is a tranquil, wistful slow movement. The movement’s flowing melodies and tender phrases form a buffer between the vigorous third and fifth movements. The third theme of the Tempo di Valse is quoted repeatedly throughout the movement.
V. Finale: Allegro vivace The fifth and final movement is a lively, off-beat finale to the Serenade, conveying the spirit of a Bohemian village dance. The principal theme of the movement is a descending figure based on thirds with an accent off the second beat. More thematic material enters at bar 32 as the violins and cellos trade calls and responses over running eighth notes played by the violas. A third theme based primarily on sixteenth note pickups appears at bar 87. A wistful recollection of the melody from the preceding Larghetto appears and then diminuendos away. The movement’s recapitulation starts with the main theme, which is followed in turn by the second and third themes. A 20-bar eighth note passage leads into a quotation of the first movement’s theme, bringing the piece full circle to its point of origin. A presto coda follows, and the Serenade is ended with three E major chords.
Antonín Dvořák’s Serenade for Strings in E major Op. 22, was composed in just two weeks in May 1875. It remains one of the composer’s more popular orchestral works to this day. (WarrenGreen)
cover by The Serenade – Federico Andreotti (Italy 1847-1930) Academic Classical artist.