I am constantly amazed at the sheer output of Antonin Dvorak. Music poured out of the man, and his gift for melodic drama set with wonderful orchestration never, ever fails to delight. Even so, I was unprepared for the degree to which this piece–which, to my knowledge, I had never heard before a couple weeks ago–forced its way into my imagination. It’s called The Golden Spinning Wheel, and it is based on a Czech folktale that was gathered into a book by Czech poet K.J. Erben. As folktales go, it’s pretty satisfyingly grim, with a young maiden capturing the heart of the king and being murdered by her evil stepmother for her troubles, only to be resurrected by a magician. You can read the entire tale here…but meanwhile, give a listen to Dvorak’s tone poem, which is thrilling and adventurous and romantic in all the wonderful meanings of the word. At times this work is so swashbuckling in its sound that you can practically see Errol Flynn, rapier in hand, as he disposes of the evil soldiers as he fights his way to his love’s side.
Music like this is what keeps me coming back to classical music, year in and year out. I hope you’ll give it a listen. Here is The Golden Spinning Wheel by Antonin Dvorak.