Nápravník, Eduard 


Nápravník, Eduard 

Fantaisie russe pour Piano et Orchestre in b minor Op.39

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Eduard Nápravník – Fantaisie Russe pour Piano et Orchestre in b minor, Op. 39

(b. Býšť, Bohemia, 24. August 1839 – d. St. Petersburg, 23. November 1916)

Eduard Nápravník was a Czech composer who spent most of his life in Russia. He was born on August 24, 1839 and died on November 10, 1916. After the death of his parents Nápravník started his musical studies at 14 at the Prague Organ School, where he also began teaching. Eventually he found love for composing and conducting, landing his first conducting job in 1861. He conducted several premieres of well-known composers such as Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto in 1875. In addition to conducting, he created music in many different genres as operas, choral and orchestral works, piano concertos, and chamber music (usually including piano). Fantaisie Russe pour Piano et Orchestre in b minor is one of the mentioned piano concertos.

There is discrepancy on whether Nápravník composed the Fantaisie Russe pour Piano et Orchestre in b minor in 1881 or 1882. However, it is certain that it was published in 1886. The piano concerto is dedicated to pianist Vera Timanova, a favorite of Franz Liszt’s students. She performed the premiere in Russia in February 1881.

This piece is written in free form for piano and orchestra. The orchestra instrumentation includes piccolo, flute, oboe, clarinet in A, bassoon, cornet, trombone, percussion, violin, viola, cello, and bass. Having lived in Russia, Nápravník based the pieces on Russian folk tunes. The Russian folk song at beginning is based on the “Song of the Volga Boatmen.” It was a work song sung by burlaks (river boat and barge pullers). The extremely physical labor is portrayed in the piece with a forte full orchestra and powerful low chords in the piano. The minor key gives it a solemn, but commanding tone. The fade from full orchestra to piano and flute duo gives it almost a nostalgic feel. The listener can feel the many emotions of the burlaks during their strenuous work.

The first theme alternates between soft, somber and loud, powerful, maybe even angry sections. After a modulation to F-sharp Major the second section begins. The major key brings the deciding change, with a lighter, happier feel. A dance is introduced by the piano, and the rest of the orchestra builds upon it, leading to a forte that references the first theme. However, the forte is interrupted by a soft, sweet cadenza in the solo piano, distinguished by many trills and bird-like sound. The full orchestra continues until the development of the third theme. The introduction of the triangle creates a dance feel, until the piece modulates to D-sharp Major. The coda repeats this theme, and the second theme returns, this time with a pedal in the piano. Timpani and tambourine add to the almost regal feel of the music. The full orchestra takes turns with the piano until the theme is played by everyone in unison. However in the end, the piano takes over, fading out into a soft nostalgic melody. It is accompanied by a vanishing triangle, clarinet, flute, and others until the entire orchestra plays the final chord.

It is unknown where the manuscript score and parts are held.

Brittani Gerkin, 2024

For performance material please contact Kistner & Siegel, Brühl.


German preface … > HERE

Score Data

Score Number



Repertoire Explorer


Keyboard & Orchestra




210 x 297 mm



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