Antonin Dvorák

Symphony No. 7 in D minor, B. 141 (Op. 70) (first published as No. 2)

    Description by Blair Johnston

    Many consider Antonín Dvorák's Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70, the pinnacle of his achievement as a composer. Indeed, never before had he risen to such a height, and one can make a formidable case that he never again did, the immense and just popularity of the "New World" Symphony notwithstanding. Dvorák had spent a full five years away from the symphonic domain when, in December 1884, he began plotting his course through the Symphony No. 7. The interval had been an important if not especially prolific one; the works of this period had been significant (for example the Piano Trio in F minor, Op. 65, the String Quartet No. 11 in C, Op. 61), and when the time came to compose the Symphony No. 7 Dvorák was prepared. The commission came from the London Philharmonic Society, to whose membership Dvorák had been elected in 1884.

    The four-movement Classical plan was Dvorák's bread and butter as a composer. Here the movements are: Allegro maestoso, Poco Adagio, Vivace (the Scherzo), and Allegro.

    A less likely main theme for a symphony than the wistful, lyric pianissimo idea offered by the violas and cellos at the opening of the first movement would be hard to come by. But it is not long before the drooping pendant at the end of the melody is converted, by means of some characteristic Dvorák hemiolas, into something far more electrifying, and from that point the movement is off and running. The second theme, in B flat major and introduced by a rich rising chromatic passage in the violins and woodwinds, has the aspect of a carefree summer day to it. The slow movement begins simply, contentedly -- the clarinet providing an airy tune that hovers between the keys of B flat and F major. There is, as the movement gradually reveals itself, passion enough. The hemiola-ridden main tune of the Scherzo, which is probably the most famous movement in the symphony, draws us into an extraordinary and compelling realm in which vivacious rhythm and undeniable melancholy are made to walk hand-in-hand.

    Prominent augmented seconds and an abundant use of the raised fourth scale degree provide the finale's principal theme and the music around it with a peculiar and subtly exotic pungency. A major becomes the launching pad for a fluffy second theme in the cellos. The assertive quarter note thrusts of the symphony's final bars manage to break through the wall of D minor into the adjacent field of D major, and the matter ends in a blaze of glory.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Allegro maestoso
    2. Poco adagio
    3. Scherzo. Vivace - Poco meno mosso
    4. Finale. Allegro

    Appears On

    Year Title / Performer Label / Catalog # AllMusic Rating
    2018
    Various Artists
    Menuetto Classics
    2018
    SWR Music
    SWR 19511CD
    2018
    Capriccio Records
    C 7250
    2017
    Praga / Praga Digitals
    PRD 250369
    2017
    LPO
    LPO 0095
    2017
    SWR Music
    SWR 19028 CD
    2016
    Pentatone / PentaTone Classics
    PTC 5186578
    2016
    Erato
    0190295975067
    2016
    Decca / Philips
    4788977
    2015
    Warner Classics
    550580
    2015
    Warner Classics
    550580
    2015
    Brilliant Classics
    95297BR
    2014
    Sony Classical
    88843014642
    2014
    Decca
    B002110502
    2014
    Decca
    2014
    Lodia Music
    LOCD 782
    2013
    Sony Classical
    88883767192
    2013
    Decca
    4785437
    2013
    Warner Classics
    21278
    2013
    Naxos
    8501702
    2013
    Decca / Mercury
    4785092
    2013
    Decca
    4785601
    2013
    Decca
    2013
    Deutsche Grammophon
    2012
    Various Artists
    Warner Classics
    2012
    Supraphon
    SU 40902
    2012
    Coviello Classics
    COV 31212
    2012
    Warner Classics
    682264
    2012
    Warner Classics
    2564666562
    2012
    BIS
    BISSACD 1896
    2011
    New York Philharmonic
    NYP 20120101
    2011
    Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / RPO
    RPOSP 020
    2011
    Haenssler
    HAEN 93277
    2010
    Sony Classical
    8869768365
    2010
    Decca
    4782296
    2010
    Decca
    2010
    Various Artists
    Warner Classics / Warner Classics & Jazz
    67960
    2010
    Signum Classics / Signum UK
    183
    2010
    Naxos
    8572112
    2010
    Channel Classics / Channel Crossings
    30010
    2010
    Berlin Classics
    0300036
    2010
    Teldec
    2010
    Testament
    1439
    2009
    Denon Records
    2009
    Pentatone
    PTC5186082
    2009
    Denon Records
    2009
    Berlin Classics
    184522
    2009
    Decca
    4781142
    2009
    Decca
    2008
    Brilliant Classics
    93635
    2008
    Warner Classics
    2008
    Erato / Virgin Classics
    5099952203
    2008
    Opus KURA
    2080
    2008
    Various Artists
    Brilliant Classics
    93674
    2008
    Arthaus Musik
    102135
    2008
    Decca
    4780114
    2007
    Palatine
    90601
    2007
    Universal Classics & Jazz
    2007
    Sony Classical Essential Classics
    88697073412
    2007
    Warner Classics
    2007
    EMI Classics
    00878
    2007
    Supraphon
    38322
    2007
    Apex
    2006
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4776338
    2006
    Koss
    1009
    2006
    Brilliant
    99565
    2006
    EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics
    0946350859
    2006
    EMI Classics
    2006
    BBC Legends / BBC Music
    41942
    2005
    Warner Classics
    2005
    EMI Classics
    2005
    Brilliant
    92779
    2005
    Rca Red Seal
    70830
    2005
    LSO
    71
    2005
    EMI Classics / EMI Music Distribution
    86873
    2005
    EMI Classics
    5868722
    2005
    EMI Classics
    2005
    EMI Classics
    2005
    EMI Classics
    2005
    Oehms
    376
    2005
    Edel Records
    2782
    2004
    NM Classics
    97018
    2004
    Various Artists
    Warner Classics
    256461530
    2004
    Supraphon
    38022
    2004
    Naxos
    8501701
    2004
    Various Artists
    Brilliant
    92396
    2003
    Testament
    1252
    2003
    BIS
    300245
    2003
    Orfeo
    594031
    2003
    EMI Music Distribution
    575761
    2003
    Supraphon
    37062
    2003
    Classica d'Oro
    1060
    2003
    Supraphon
    37052
    2003
    LSO Live
    LSO 0014
    2003
    Various Artists
    History
    45515
    2002
    Naxos
    506010
    2002
    Disky
    70743
    2002
    Tahra
    403-404
    2001
    Erato / Virgin
    7243561853
    2001
    BMG / RCA Red Seal
    68013
    2001
    St. Clair
    7355
    2001
    Capriccio Records
    51015
    2000
    Sony Music Distribution
    89412
    2000
    Seraphim Classics
    2000
    Angel Records / Warner Classics
    7243573707
    2000
    Decca / Universal
    2000
    Decca
    466994
    1999
    D Classics
    70399
    1999
    Deutsche Grammophon
    449207
    1999
    Decca / Deutsche Grammophon
    1999
    Deutsche Grammophon
    463158
    1998
    Sony Classical
    SMK-60561
    1998
    Teldec
    21278
    1998
    Sony Classical
    63151
    1997
    Deutsche Grammophon
    1997
    Berlin Classics
    0092962
    1997
    London
    452182
    1997
    Philips
    456 327-2PM2
    1997
    Arte Nova
    46505
    1996
    Testament
    1079
    1996
    Forlane
    16621
    1996
    Vox
    8202
    1995
    Berlin Classics
    0091422
    1995
    Sony Music Distribution
    67174
    1995
    Deutsche Grammophon
    439663
    1995
    Deutsche Grammophon
    1995
    Supraphon
    1918
    1995
    Supraphon
    111960
    1995
    EMI Music Distribution
    68628
    1995
    Chandos
    9391
    1994
    Supraphon
    110559
    1994
    BIS
    452
    1994
    Naxos
    506001
    1994
    Naxos
    550270
    1994
    Telarc Distribution
    82018
    1994
    Teldec
    95497
    1993
    Philips
    438347
    1992
    Chandos
    8501
    1992
    EMI Music Distribution
    64658
    1992
    Decca
    430728
    1992
    Mercury
    434312
    1991
    London
    430046
    1989
    Virgin / Virgin Classics
    90756
    1988
    Telarc Distribution
    80173
    1980
    Tahra
    136
    History
    204557
    Adda
    581248
    EMI Music Distribution
    499482
    Artists
    040
    D Classics
    707442
    Capriccio Records
    10354
    Odyssey/Sony Classical
    46277
    Dallas Symphony Orchestra
    Supraphon
    110675
    Topazio
    26043
    Supraphon
    111918
    Supraphonet
    111106
    Virgin
    59516
    Canyon Classics
    3681
    Lodia Compact Discs
    782
    Chandos
    9991
    Chandos
    9008
    Koch Discover International
    94331
    Angel Records
    69803B
    Philharmonia of the Nations
    37
    Virgin
    59538
    Exton
    00280
    Brilliant Classics
    93674/4
    Brilliant Classics
    93635/4
    Brilliant
    92396/4
    Brilliant
    99569
    London
    417564-2
    Rca Red Seal
    Supraphon
    377704
    D Classics
    704002
    Berlin Classics
    0090192
    Koch Discover International
    920109
    BBC Music Magazine
    60
    EMI Music Distribution
    63774
    Philips Classics
    432602
    Vox
    9018
    London
    433403
    Capriccio Records
    51015
    Koch
    7007
    Lys
    36/39