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Stabat Mater (Dvořák)

Stabat Mater, Op. 58 (originally Op. 28),[1] B. 71, for soloists, choir and orchestra, is an extended sacred cantata by the Czech composer Antonín Dvořák, setting the Latin Stabat Mater sequence. The work was sketched in 1876 and completed in 1877. The composer's first major religious composition, it was premiered in Prague and soon also performed in Budapest and London. A performance in the Royal Albert Hall, conducted by the composer, established his international recognition. It has been regarded as one of his three most popular works and is performed and recorded frequently.

Stabat Mater
by Antonín Dvořák
A. Dvořák Stabat Mater.JPG
Title page of the score
OpusOp. 58
TextStabat Mater
Composed1876-1877 (1876-1877): Prague
Performed23 December 1880 (1880-12-23): Prague
VocalSATB choir and solists
  • Orchestra
  • organ


Dvořák was the organist at St. Adalbert in Prague from 1874.[2] He began the composition of Stabat Mater in 1875, six months after the death of his daughter, Josefa, who was only two days old.[3][4] Stabat Mater is Dvořák's first work on a religious theme.[2] He chose the work, unusually for him, without a commission.[3] The sketch was written between 19 February and 7 May 1876, and was dedicated to František Hušpauer "as a souvenir to the friend of his young days."[1] It contained seven movements, the later 1–4 and 8–10.[2] However, Dvořák had to postpone the orchestration of the work due to other obligations.[5] He returned to it in 1877, when his two surviving children died within a short time of each other.[3][4] He completed the score on 13 November 1877 in Prague.[4]

The first performance took place in Prague on 23 December 1880[4] at the concert of the Association of Musical Artists. The performers included the operatic ensemble of the Czech Provisional Theatre, conducted by Adolf Čech,[6] with the soloists Eleanora Ehrenbergů, Betty Fibich, Antonín Vávra and Karel Čech. The composer Leoš Janáček conducted the work a year and half later, on 2 April 1882, in Brno. Performances abroad followed in Budapest and London,[1] where the composer was invited to conduct a performance at the Royal Albert Hall.[6] That concert, with a choir of several hundred singers, established the composer's international breakthrough, resulting in performances in Europe and the U.S.[2]

Stabat Mater was published in score, parts and a piano vocal score (arranged by Josef Zubatý) by the German publishing house N. Simrock in 1881. On a request from the publisher, Dvořák changed the opus number, which would have been 28, to 58 to give the work a more mature appearance.[1] Breitkopf published a critical edition in 2004.[1] Carus published an edition in 2016 which also has a version for a chamber ensemble, to make the work accessible for smaller choirs.[2]


Structure and scoringEdit

The composer structured Stabat Mater in ten movements, and scored it for four vocal soloists, soprano (S), alto (A), tenor (T) and bass (B)), a four-part choir (SATB), a symphony orchestra and organ. The orchestra features parts for two flutes, two oboes, cor anglais, two clarinets in A, two bassoons, four French horns (two in F, two in D), two trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, organ and strings.[1][7]:2 The organ has an independent part accompanying the women's chorus in the fourth movement, but is not used otherwise. Similarly, a single solo phrase in the opening of the second movement is assigned to the cor anglais, which is otherwise absent. Though not specified in the score, it can be played by one of the two oboists, as they are not playing during this section. The approximate duration of the work is 90 minutes.[4][1]

In the following table of movements, the movement number is followed by the beginning of the text, the vocal performers, the tempo marking at the beginning, time signatures and key. The symbol   is used to denote common time (4/4).

The title page of the score of Stabat Mater. Souvenir of the performance in Worcester on 12 September 1884, with signatures of Antonín Dvořák and members of the orchestra.
Movements of Stabat Mater
No. Title Voices Tempo Time Key
1 Stabat Mater SATB S A T B Andante con moto 3/2 B minor
2 Quis est homo S A T B Andante sostenuto 3/4 E minor
3 Eja, Mater SATB Andante con moto   C minor
4 Fac, ut ardeat cor meum B SSAATB Largo 4/8 B-flat minor
5 Tui nati vulnerati SATB Andante con moto, quasi allegretto 6/8 E major
6 Fac me vere tecum flere T TTBB Andante con moto 6/8 B major
7 Virgo virginum praeclara SATB Largo 3/4 A major
8 Fac, ut portem Christi mortem S T Larghetto 4/8 B minor
9 Inflammatus et accensus A Largo   D minor
10 Quando corpus morietur S A T B SATB Andante con moto 3/2 B minor


Christ on the Cross with Mary and St John by Rogier van der Weyden

The music is structured in ten movements which focus on different aspects of the poetry, depicting the suffering of Mary and the compassion of the person reflecting it in various shades of scoring, tempo and keys. The music of the first and last movements shares themes, framing the composition.[1] The movements offer a rich variation in vocal scoring, from one solo voice to various combinations of solo voices, solo voice with choir, and choir alone. While nine movements remain in slow tempo and reflect Mary's suffering in compassionate meditation, the final movement offers a vision of paradise.[2]


The first movement, beginning "Stabat Mater dolorosa" (The sorrowful Mother stood [by the cross]), is a setting of the first four stanzas from the poem, scored for the choir, the quartet of soloists and the full orchestra.[7]:9–32 The movement is an extended sonata form in symphonic style. It opens with a long orchestral introduction, which is repeated with the choir. A contrasting second theme is introduced by the soloists. A development section leads to the return of the opening material.[7]:1–44


The second movement is assigned to the quartet of soloists. Beginning "Quis est homo, qui non fleret" (What person would not weep), it is a setting of stanzas five to eight from the poem.[7]:33–44


The third movement, a setting of the ninth stanza from the poem, "Eja, Mater, fons amoris" (Look at the mother, the source of love), resembles a funeral march for choir and orchestra.[7]:44–51


The fourth movement is a solo for the bass singing the tenth stanza, "Fac, ut ardeat cor meum" (Make my heart burn). It is interrupted by short comments from the choir which is first a four-part women's choir (SSAA), later joined by the men, singing the eleventh stanza, "Sancta mater, istud agas" (Holy mother, make this).[7]:52–58


The fifth movement, for the choir, sets the twelfth stanza, "Tui nati vulnerati" (Of your wounded son).[7]:59–69


The sixth movement, setting the 13th and 14th stanzas, "Fac me vere tecum flere" (Make me really weep with you), is sung alternately by the solo tenor and a four-part men's choir.[7]:70–77


The seventh movement is sung by the choir, at times a cappella. It is a setting of the 15th stanza, beginning "Virgo virginum praeclara" (Virgin pre-eminent among virgins).[7]:78–83


The eighth movement is a duet for soprano and tenor soloists, setting the 16th and 17th stanzas, beginning "Fac, ut portem Christi mortem" (Grant that I may bear the death of Christ).[7]:84–88


The ninth movement is a setting of the 18th and 19th stanzas for the solo alto, "Inflammatus et accensus" (Inflamed and afire).[7]:89–93


The final movement sets the ultimate stanza, beginning "Quando corpus morietur" (When the body will die), praying for the glory of paradise for the soul then ("paradisi gloria"). The movement recalls themes from the first movement and is set for the same forces of all performers. It ends with an uplifting fugue in a major key on the word "Amen".[7]:94–111[3]


Dress rehearsal for Stabat Mater in St. Bonifatius, Wiesbaden, on 25 October 2019, with Mary standing under the Cross in the background

Stabat Mater is regarded as one of Dvořák's most popular works, along with his Ninth Symphony and the Slavonic Dances. It is his first sacred composition on Latin text, followed by Mass in D major, Op. 86, Requiem, Op. 89, and Te Deum, Op. 103.[2]


A piano version for chorus and vocal quartet, containing only seven movements, was recorded by Accentus/Equilbey with Brigitte Engerer, piano.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Döge, Klaus. "Antonín Dvořák (1841–1904) / Stabat mater Op. 58 / Urtext edited by Klaus Döge (solos,ch,orch) duration: 86'". Breitkopf & Härtel. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Berná, Lucie Harasim (September 2016). "Foreword to Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) / Stabat Mater / op. 58" (PDF). Carus-Verlag. pp. 4–5. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d Dotsey, Calvin (2018). "A Light in the Darkness: Dvořák's Stabat Mater". Houston Symphony. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e Vaughan, David (28 March 2005). "Music for Easter: Dvorak's Stabat Mater - one of the most powerful declarations of faith in musical history". Radio Prague. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  5. ^ "Antonín Dvořák (1841–1904) / Stabat mater Op. 58 / Urtext edited by Klaus Döge (solos,ch,orch) duration: 86'". Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Cookson, Michael (December 2015). "Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) / Stabat mater". Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Antonín Dvořák (1841–1904) / Stabat mater Op. 58 / für Soli, Chor und Orchester / for Soloists, Choir and Orchestra / op. 58. Breitkopf & Härtel. 2004.
  8. ^ WorldCat entry for Talich recording accessed 8 September 2017.
  9. ^ WorldCat entry for Smetacek recording accessed 8 September 2017.
  10. ^ WorldCat entry for Shaw recording accessed 8 September 2017.
  11. ^ The Classical Catalogue 1992. No. 153, June 1992, General Gramophone Publications Ltd, Harrow, UK
  12. ^ WorldCat entry for Macal recording accessed 8 September 2017.
  13. ^ WorldCat entry for Rilling recording accessed 8 September 2017.


External linksEdit