Sunday, November 25, 2012

Stabat Mater: Dvorak

Dvorak's Stabat Mater is a Cantata that was completed in 1877. Among all Stabat Maters that have been written, this stands out as probably the best. It is the most symphonic of them all. Recently, I heard another excellent Stabat Mater written by Karl Jenkins. This work by Dvorak was premiered in Prague in December 1880. When Dvorak started work on his Stabat Mater, he was grieving for a daughter that he had lost recently and before he completed the Stabat Mater, he lost his other two children too. This work became one of mourning and also that of healing for him. Technically, Stabat Mater in Latin means Lamentation of a Mother. It reflects on Virgin Mary's grief as she stands under the cross and looks at the crucified Christ. The introduction to Stabat Mater is a haunting prelude for orchestra in Wagnerian style. Wagner had visited Prague a few months before Dvorak started work on his Stabat Mater and the lovely preludes to Lohengrin must have left an impact on the mind of Dvorak. The prelude opens quietly into a melody that is tragic and is falling. The work is written in ten movements. It became so popular in England that Dvorak was called to conduct it there. Without a doubt, this Stabat Mater is superior to the ones written by Johann Sebastian Bach, Giovanni Pergolesi, Franz Schubert, Franz Liszt, Giuseppe Verdi, Zoltan Kodaly, Krzysztof Penderecki and Karl Jenkins.

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