Dvořák’s Serenade for Strings: Nocturnal Melodies

The word serenade brings to mind serene music of the evening. In the Middle Ages, the serenade was a musical greeting performed for a friend or lover. Later, it evolved into a divertimento with a series of contrasting movements. Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik may be the most famous example of this kind of light party music. Brahms’ two serenades were more weighty. They served as stepping stones for a composer who was dedicated to perfecting his …

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Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings: Music from the Heart

In November of 1880, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was hard at work on two sharply contrasting pieces. The first was the bombastic and commemorative 1812 Overture, a piece the composer delivered out of a sense of dutiful professional obligation. The second was the elegant and soulful Serenade for Strings in C Major. Regarding the Serenade, Tchaikovsky wrote to his publisher, “I am violently in love with this work and cannot wait for it to be played.” In an …

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