Invited to provide material for the 1885 Festival, Dvorak submitted The Spectre’s Bride, a folkloric work to be sung in English. While he was paid £200 for the commission, he was envious of Gounod's £4000 fee for involvement in the two festivals in 1882 and 1885. The festival audience responded with great enthusiasm to the piece and it has been suggested that the work surpassed even Mors et Vita in popularity.
This success prompted an invitation to return for the following Festival, however Dvorak declined.
Whilst in Birmingham he was handed a copy of Newman’s The Dream of Gerontius for possible use in a future composition. Dvorak decided not to develop this idea further.