Josef Suk

Serenade for strings in E flat major, Op. 6

    Description by Joseph Stevenson

    When dismissing his Prague Conservatory composition class for the summer at the end of the 1891-1892 school year, Antonín Dvorák bade 18-year-old Josef Suk, "It's summertime now, so go and make something lively for a change, to compensate for all those pomposities in minor." Suk took that advice and that summer created what is still his best-known work, a sunny and uncomplicated Serenade of substantial dimensions, lasting nearly a half hour. In mood and mastery it is worthy of comparison with other great nineteenth century string works such as the Serenade by Tchaikovsky, the Holberg Suite by Grieg, and the String Serenade by Dvorák himself. The line of sunny string works would continue with compositions by the likes of Elgar, Holst, Britten, and Diamond.

    Little in the way of analysis is required to absorb and appreciate this gentle and beautiful piece, though it is worth noting that the main subject of the first movement is practically identical with part of the main theme of Brahms' violin concerto. The most substantial movement is the lyrical slow movement, at over ten minutes. One of the main pieces in the Romantic string orchestra repertory, the Serenade was premiered as a whole on February 25, 1895, by the Prague Conservatory Orchestra conducted by Antonín Bennewitz, to great acclaim; two movements had been heard 14 months earlier in Tabor, conducted by Suk himself.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Andante con moto
    2. Allegro ma non troppo e grazioso
    3. Adagio
    4. Allegro giocoso, ma non troppo presto

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Supraphon SU 42502
    2018 Brilliant Classics BRI 95655
    2016 BR Klassik 900145
    2016 Supraphon SU 42032
    2015 Fleur de Son FDS 58025
    2013 Supraphon SU 41322
    2012 Fidelio FACD 036
    2009 Warner Classics / Wcj 4692322
    2009 Denon Records 00795041980427
    2007 Supraphon 38362
    2006 Supraphon 38822
    2006 Novalis 150725
    2005 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler 5015
    2003 Virgin Classics
    2003 History 45515
    2003 EMI Music Distribution 75483
    2001 Romeo Entertainment 7206
    2000 Virgin 61144
    2000 Angel Records 61763
    1999 Claves 509013
    1998 Chandos CHAN9640
    1997 Vox 7540
    1994 Supraphon 4136
    1994 Supraphon 1899
    1994 Capriccio Records 10527
    1994 Naxos 550419
    1994 ASV 6094
    1994 IMP Classics 1083
    1989 Chandos 8659
    History 204557
    G.Z. Classics 0063
    Koch 7060
    Opus KURA 2085
    Chandos 9063
    Discover 920234
    Deutsche Grammophon 447109
    Eufoda 1138
    BD 7026
    Bayer Records 100167
    Paula Records 100
    Virgin 791165
    Lys 36/39
    Russian Music Society 10007