The last page of the autograph score
with Dvořák's inscription: "Finished on 10 June, 1893 in
The String Quartet No. 12 in F
Op. 96, B. 179, nicknamed the American
is one of the most popular pieces of chamber music
by the Czech composer Antonín Dvořák
composed the Quartet in 1893 during a summer retreat from his
teaching post in New
York. He spent his vacation in the hamlet of Spillville, Iowa, which was home to a Czech
immigrant community. The quartet was written around the same time
as the New World
Symphony, the crowning masterpiece of Dvořák's years in the
Of his time in Spillville, Dvořák said
"As for my new Symphony, the F major String Quartet and the
Quintet (composed here in Spillville)
-- I should never
have written these works 'just so' if I hadn't seen America."
In the second movement, a listener may detect the melancholic
longing of an African American
, a sentiment with which
the homesick Dvořák sympathized. The spirited third movement
imitates the rhapsodic song of an American bird, and in the final
movement, the composition strongly suggests the presence of a
railway or train. The première performance took place on
January 1, 1894 in Boston at the
concert of Kneisel Quartet (members were F.
Kneisel, O. Rott, L. Svècenski, Al. Schroeder). Later (on January 12,
1894) it was performed in New York Carnegie Hall with the same quartet.
The first edition was
printed by German publisher N. Simrock in 1894, also in the
arrangement for piano duet.
is scored for the usual
complement of two violins
, and cello
, and comprises
- Allegro ma non troppo
- Molto vivace
- Finale : vivace ma non troppo
A typical performance lasts around 30 minutes.
- Dvořák, Antonín: Quartetto XII. Fa maggiore.
Score. Prague: Editio Supraphon, 1991. S 1304