About this work
The philosophical overtones of Dvorák's overture In Nature's Realm were perhaps best summarized by his biographer Otakar Sourek: "Deeply religious in feeling, above all he saw in Nature the unfathomable work of a Divine Will, but in a certain pantheistic sense he also saw it as the giver of Life, which is both beautiful and ugly." Thus, in addition to picturesque tone painting, Dvorák aimed to create spiritual overtones. The work was composed between March 31 and July 8, 1891, and dedicated to Cambridge University, which honored him with a doctorate on June 16 of that year.
The overture is in a standard sonata form, framed by a few introductory measures and a simple epilogue. After a lively dance theme, the lyrical second subject occurs in the mediant major, a key rarely used in this way by Dvorák. Until the closing epilogue -- which features a pentatonic, chorale-like motif based on a Czech hymn -- the overture revels of bird songs and other natural sounds, revealing the composer's love for his home in the spruce forest of Vysoká where the work was written. The overture has many features that place it in the long tradition begun by Beethoven's "Pastoral" symphony, but the hymn motif is quite an individual feature.
In Nature's Realm forms the first portion of a programmatic trilogy that Dvorák had undertaken at the contemplative age of 50. The second and third overtures were the Carnival, Op. 92, and Othello, Op. 93.