Stabat Mater (Dvořák)

Antonín Dvořák's Stabat Mater, Op. 58 (B. 71), is an extended setting for vocal soloists, choir and orchestra of the 20 stanzas of the Stabat Mater sequence. Dvořák sketched the composition in 1876 and completed it in 1877. It has been characterized as a sacred cantata and as an oratorio, and consists of ten movements of which only the first and the last are thematically connected. Its total performance time is around 85 minutes.[1][2][3][4]

Stabat Mater
by Antonín Dvořák
Stabat Mater (Dvořák) St. Bonifatius Wiesbaden.jpg
Stabat Mater at St. Bonifatius, Wiesbaden, 2019
CatalogueB. 71
OpusOp. 58
TextStabat Mater
Composed1876 (1876)–1877
Performed23 December 1880 (1880-12-23): Prague
VocalSATB choir and soloists
  • Orchestra
  • organ

The work was first performed in Prague in 1880. N. Simrock published Dvořák's Op. 58 in 1881. In 1882, Leoš Janáček conducted a performance of the work in Brno. The work was performed in London in 1883, and again, in the Royal Albert Hall, in 1884, and thus played a crucial role in Dvořák's international breakthrough as a composer. In the 21st century the Stabat Mater continues to be Dvořák's best known, and most often performed, sacred work.[5][6]


How Dvořák started to compose his Stabat Mater in February 1876 as a reaction to the death of his two days old daughter Josefa in August 1875 has often been told, but has been doubted in 21st-century scholarship.[2][7][8][9][10] 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."[9][11] On 30 July Dvořák sent his manuscript to Vienna, accompanying an application for a scholarship by the Ministry of Culture and Education.[10] He returned to the final stylisation of the composition in 1877, when his two surviving children died within a short time of each other.[10] The definitive version of the score was written from October to 13 November 1877 in Prague.[9]


Structure and scoringEdit

Crucifixion by Evgraf Semenovich Sorokin (1873)

The composer structured the 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) with sometimes divided voices, 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.[12][4] 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.[7][12]

In the following table of movements, the movement number is followed by the beginning of the text, the stanzas set in the movement (counting three lines as one stanza), the vocal performers (choir and solo), the tempo marking at the beginning, time signatures and key. The symbol   is used to denote common time (4/4).

Movements of Stabat Mater
No. Title Stanzas Choral Solo Tempo Time Key
1 Stabat Mater 1–4 SATB S A T B Andante con moto 3/2 B minor
2 Quis est homo 5–8 S A T B Andante sostenuto 3/4 E minor
3 Eja, Mater 9 SATB Andante con moto   C minor
4 Fac, ut ardeat cor meum 10–11 SSAATB B Largo 4/8 B-flat minor
5 Tui nati vulnerati 12 SATB Andante con moto, quasi allegretto 6/8 E major
6 Fac me vere tecum flere 13–14 TTBB T Andante con moto 6/8 B major
7 Virgo virginum praeclara 15 SATB Largo 3/4 A major
8 Fac, ut portem Christi mortem 16–17 S T Larghetto 4/8 B minor
9 Inflammatus et accensus 18–19 A Largo   D minor
10 Quando corpus morietur 20 SATB S A T B Andante con moto 3/2 B minor


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.[12] 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.[13]


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.[14] 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.[15]


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.[16]


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.[17]


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).[18]


The fifth movement, for the choir, sets the twelfth stanza, "Tui nati vulnerati" (Of your wounded son).[19]


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.[20]


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).[21]


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).[22]


The ninth movement is a setting of the 18th and 19th stanzas for the solo alto, "Inflammatus et accensus" (Inflamed and afire).[23]


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

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[3] and is set for the same forces of all performers. It ends with an uplifting fugue in a major key on the word "Amen".[24][8]


Title page of Novello's edition of the score of Dvořák's Stabat Mater: memento of the performance in Worcester on 12 September 1884, with signatures by Antonín Dvořák and members of the orchestra.

The first performance of Dvořák's Stabat Mater took place on 23 December 1880 at the concert of the Association of Musical Artists in Prague. The performers included the operatic ensemble of the Czech Provisional Theatre, under the conductor Adolf Čech, with the soloists Eleanora Ehrenbergů, Betty Fibich, Antonín Vávra and Karel Čech.[3] Leoš Janáček conducted the work a year and half later, on 2 April 1882, in Brno.[1] A performance in Budapest soon ensued.[1] The work was performed in London in 1883, and again, in the Royal Albert Hall, in 1884, and thus played a crucial role in Dvořák's international breakthrough as a composer.[5] In the 21st century the Stabat Mater continues to be Dvořák's best known, and most often performed, sacred work.[5][6]

Score publicationsEdit

In 1879 Dvořák suggested his Stabat Mater for publication to Fritz Simrock, but it wasn't until after the successful 1880 Prague première of the work that he got the publisher interested.[25] Simrock suggested to change the original opus number (Op. 28) to a more recent number: the work was published as Dvořák's Op. 58 by the N. Simrock firm in 1881.[25] The publication included a vocal score with a piano reduction by Josef Zubatý [scores].[25][26] Full score and vocal score were published by Novello & Co, in the Novello's Original Octavo Edition series, in 1883.[27][28]

In the second half of the 1950s the Stabat Mater was published as Vol. II/1 of Souborné vydání děl Antonína Dvořáka [scores] (SAD, Complete Edition of Antonín Dvořák's Works):[9]

In Jarmil Burghauser's thematic catalogue of Dvořák's compositions the Stabat Matar was given the number B. 71.[10] In 2004 there were two new vocal score editions of Dvořák's Stabat Mater:[31]

  • Bärenreiter published a vocal score based on Dvořák's 1876–1877 draft version, edited by Jan Kachlík and Miroslav Srnka.[32]
  • Klaus Döge [de] revised Josef Zubatý's piano reduction, working away discrepancies with the orchestral score.[25]

Carus published Joachim Linckelmann's arrangement of Dvořák's Stabat Mater for chamber orchestra in 2016.[33] The vocal score published with this edition was Petra Morath-Pusinelli's revision of Josef Zubatý's piano reduction.[13]


The 1876 version of seven movements for vocal quartet, choir and piano was recorded in 2009 by soloists, the Accentus ensemble, conducted by Laurence Equilbey, with pianist Brigitte Engerer.[41]


  1. ^ a b c Šourek & Čubr 2000, p. V.
  2. ^ a b Šourek & Šolc 2002.
  3. ^ a b c 2019.
  4. ^ a b Döge & Zubatý 2004, p. 2.
  5. ^ a b c Linckelmann & Berná 2016, pp. IV–V.
  6. ^ a b Döge & Zubatý 2004, pp. 6–7.
  7. ^ a b Vaughan 2005.
  8. ^ a b Dotsey 2018.
  9. ^ a b c d e Kachlík & Srnka 2004, p. VI.
  10. ^ a b c d Döge & Zubatý 2004, p. 6.
  11. ^ Šourek & Čubr 2000, p. VII.
  12. ^ a b c Döge 2019.
  13. ^ a b Morath-Pusinelli, Zubatý & Berná 2016.
  14. ^ Döge & Zubatý 2004, pp. 9–32.
  15. ^ Döge & Zubatý 2004, pp. 1–44.
  16. ^ Döge & Zubatý 2004, pp. 33–44.
  17. ^ Döge & Zubatý 2004, pp. 44–51.
  18. ^ Döge & Zubatý 2004, pp. 52–58.
  19. ^ Döge & Zubatý 2004, pp. 59–69.
  20. ^ Döge & Zubatý 2004, pp. 70–77.
  21. ^ Döge & Zubatý 2004, pp. 78–83.
  22. ^ Döge & Zubatý 2004, pp. 84–88.
  23. ^ Döge & Zubatý 2004, pp. 89–93.
  24. ^ Döge & Zubatý 2004, pp. 94–111.
  25. ^ a b c d Döge & Zubatý 2004, p. 7.
  26. ^ OCLC 246636061. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  27. ^ OCLC 1098699556. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  28. ^ Antonín Dvořák: Stabat Mater, Opus 58, for soli, chorus and orchestra (Novello's 1883 vocal score) at University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign website.
  29. ^ Šourek & Šolc 1956.
  30. ^ Šourek & Čubr 1958.
  31. ^ Döge & Zubatý 2004, pp. 6–8.
  32. ^ Kachlík & Srnka 2004.
  33. ^ Linckelmann & Berná 2016.
  34. ^ WorldCat entry for Talich recording. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  35. ^ WorldCat entry for Smetacek recording. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  36. ^ WorldCat entry for Shaw recording. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  37. ^ The Classical Catalogue 1992. No. 153, June 1992, General Gramophone Publications Ltd, Harrow, UK
  38. ^ a b c d Cookson 2015.
  39. ^ WorldCat entry for Macal recording. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  40. ^ WorldCat entry for Rilling recording. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  41. ^ Clements 2008.


External linksEdit