Wind Music

Rhapsodies Op. 45, Nos. 1,  2 and 3

Antonin Dvorak

arranged by Tony Turrill

2Fl.; Fl./picc; 2Ob.;Cor; 2Cl.;Bass Cl./Cl; 2Bsn.;Contra; 2Hn


It is always a delight to play the wind parts in any Dvorak work.  The New World Symphony never palls and clarinettists eagerly look forward to the eighth. Players on our annual chamber music course always scrambled for places to perform the Serenade for eleven wind,  cello and bass and  the slow movement has been the highlight of many a clarinettist’s event. Sadly, other than the Serenade ,  he composed little chamber music specially for wind instruments. 

However he originally wrote several of his major works for two pianos, later scoring them for full orchestra.  This and the absence of his own wind chamber works has tempted others to score the same pieces for wind ensembles.  Wind arrangements have been produced of all his Slavonic Dances and in the case of the ten Legends  there is Norvik’s own popular version.

Dvorak wrote his first rhapsody, Opus 12, in 1874 although it was not published until 1912,  after his death.  It is a tone poem very much influenced by Smetena’s Vysehrad . The three later rhapsodies, Opus 45, were all written in 1878.  No. 3 became the audience’s favourite. Surprisingly these have not attracted other arrangers.

Our arrangements use  2Fl.,1Picc.;2Ob.,1Cor;2Cl.,1Bass Cl.;2Bsn1.1Contra; 2Hns, although they occasionally use three flutes, three oboes or three clarinets.

Whilst Dvorak uses four horns in his orchestral versions, these arrangements use two. The first reason was logistical, the second musical.  Firstly, any course fixer will tell you of the problems of assembling four horns simultaneously.  More importantly, the musical reason was one of  balance. In his early years, Strauss recognised that four horns and eight woodwind were difficult to balance.  His later  solution, when writing his symphony and sonata for wind, was to introduce three extra clarinets making five in all (C Cl.; 2 Bb/A Cl.; Basset Hn; Bass Cl.). Ours has been more prosaic, employing only two horns and when necessary  using the cor or bass clarinet to make up the harmony.

Each rhapsody is described in more detail on its own page with its own virtual performances. Click on the following to access them

Rhapsody No. 1

Rhapsody N0. 2

Rhapsody No. 3