Composition and premiere
1875 was a fruitful year for Dvořák‘s composing. This was the same year that he wrote his Symphony No. 5, String Quintet No. 2, Piano Trio No. 1, the opera Vanda, and the Moravian Duets. These were happy times in his life. His marriage was young, and his first son had been born. For the first time in his life, he was starting to be recognized as a composer, and was able to live stably without fear of poverty. He received a generous stipend from a commission in Vienna, which allowed him to compose his Fifth Symphony and several chamber works as well as the Serenade.
Allegedly, Dvořák wrote the Serenade in just 12 days, from 3–14 May. The piece was premiered in Prague on 10 December 1876 by Adolf Čech and the combined orchestras of the Czech and German theatres. It was published in 1877 in the composer’s piano duet arrangement by Emanuel Starý in Prague. The score was printed two years later by Bote and Bock, Berlin.