The FOK & Dvořák’s Stabat Mater
Many believe that Dvořák’s immortal Stabat Mater oratorio was written in memory of his young children. But the Czech composer was a religious man in any case. Learn the story of this work, an Easter tradition for The Prague Symphony Orchestra (FOK).
The Story Behind The Prague Symphony Orchestra’s
Easter Concert Tradition
Antonín Dvořák’s (1841-1904) oratorio Stabat Mater sets to music the text of a 13th century Latin sequence, attributed variously to one of the Franciscan friars – Jacopone da Todi or St. Bonaventura. The verses, composed of twenty stanzas, describe the Biblical event of Christ’s crucifixion, unusually from the point of view of the mother whose son is dying on the cross.
The sequence was excluded from the official liturgy at the Council of Trent, and was not readmitted until 1727.
The idea of setting Stabat Mater – the expression of ultimate loss and sorrow – has attracted many composers since the Renaissance era: Palestrina, Josquin, Pergolesi, Haydn, Rossini, Verdi, and Penderecki among them.
Composers of Czech descent that have composed to the Stabat Mater text include: Jan Zach, František Ignác Tůma, František Xaver Brixi, Jan Křtitel Vaňhal, Jakub Jan Ryba, and in the 19th century, Josef Bohuslav Foerster.
Dvořák completed this grandiose composition in 1877, following the tragic death of his three children, in quick succession, between the years 1875 and 1877.
Although today scholars doubt a direct link between the origin of Stabat Mater and the family events, it’s known that after the death of his children the composer added three parts (today Nos. 5–7) to the early version of seven, bringing the final format of the work to ten parts … Click here to continue reading, or click on the black “Re:Source” tab at the top of this page.
Photo Credits: Prague Symphony Orchestra (FOK)