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The profound impression it makes on us is due in part
to the sequence of variations on a death motif that seems to have been
borrowed from the beginning of the second Kyrie from Bach's Mass in B
minor. Written in 1890, it was commissioned by the publisher Novello for the Birmingham Music Festival and premiered there under the direction of the composer on 9 October 1891. For this performance, Dvořák used a copy of the score which he had personally examined and which later served as the engraver's copy. The Dvořák scholar Klaus Döge succeeded in tracking down its location and evaluating this important source for the first time. It contains the "Fassung letzter Hand" and, moreover, offers valuable insights into Dvořák's conducting workshop. It served as the principal source for the Breitkopf Urtext edition.