Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


School of Music

First Advisor

Sara Ernst


The purpose of this study is to pedagogically analyze each of Antonìn Dvořák’s (1841-1904) Poetic Tone Pictures (op. 85) for both technical and artistic challenges. Historical and theoretical analysis give context but are limited so that the pedagogical value of the set can be fully explored.

Poetic Tone Pictures is a set of thirteen programmatic character pieces that were originally popular but have been overlooked in recent history. This is largely due to Dvořák scholars’ discrediting attitude toward his solo piano writing. The recent interest in recording his piano works has brought Poetic Tone Pictures positive critical reviews. This study analyzed each piece for pedagogical value and found much potential for teaching and performing. More frequent programming of these pieces and further research on Dvořák’s compositional style, specifically in his solo piano writing, is necessary to negate the neglect that has surrounded this music for most of the twentieth century.

This treatise contains four chapters, a bibliography, and an appendix. Chapter one contains the historical context of Poetic Tone Pictures, the purpose and need for the study, limitations, related literature, and methodology. Chapters two and three contain the pedagogical analysis of the thirteen pieces. Chapter two includes the pieces that have overt technical challenges whereas the pieces in chapter three are difficult because of the necessary artistic interpretation. Both chapters introduce the pieces in order of ascending difficulty. Chapter four offers conclusions about the set, including benefits of study and possible areas of further research.


© 2020, Nathan MacAvoy