On an Overgrown Path, the piano cycle of poetic compositions, was created gradually in 1900, 1908 and 1911. Janáček wrote five compositions of the first part of the On an Overgrown Path cycle in 1900. They were published as short pieces for harmonium in the Slavic Melodies journal issued by Emil Kolář, a teacher from Ivančice. The cycle extension was prompted by Jan Branberger, who arranged publication with Bedřich Kočí, a Prague based publisher, in 1908. Due to the publishing interest in the existing compositions, Janáček went on composing more parts so that the cycle was extended to ten pieces that were given poetic names by the composer. However, the publication was cancelled and rejected by another publisher, Mojmír Urbánek, and eventually the whole cycle was published by Antonín Píša in 1911.
The next composition of the evening is 1. X. 1905 (From the Street on 1 October 1905). This was a spontaneous work written as a reaction to the tragedy that happened during demonstrations for a Czech university in Brno. After years of efforts to establish Czech university education in Brno, the government decided that the people of Brno themselves should make a decision on the Czech university. However, since Brno was mostly German, the German city representatives were worried about an increased influence of Czechs and convened the so-called Volkstag for 1 October 1905, with German associations and organizations from the surrounding areas called to Brno to demonstrate their opposition to the establishment of a Czech university in Brno. The Czech citizens of Brno called a big anti-German demonstration in response. Both groups were fighting in the streets, troopers and later the army were called, and František Pavlík, a young Czech worker, was killed during one of the interventions at the Beseda House. Under the impression of this tragic event, Janáček wrote From the Street on 1 October 1905, originally a three-movement composition. However, just before the Brno premiere on 27 January 1906 he burned the last movement and after another performance in Prague, he threw the whole autography in Vltava. Luckily, the pianist Ludmila Tučková, the first composition performer, kept the original copy that she only brought forward in 1924. Thanks to this the piano composition forgotten for many years by the composer and the people around him was preserved.
Janáček finished the In the Mists piano cycle in April 1912. Shortly before, in 1910, he moved to a new house in the garden of an organ school with his wife and the housekeeper and there, hiding from the world, with his confidence undermined and in melancholic humour, he composed his last extensive work for solo piano. He was working on it shortly after having heard the piano compositions of the French composer Claude Debussy, therefore it is no coincidence that his dreamy, melancholic work contains elements of musical impressionism. In the Mists won the first prize in the composer’s competition organized by the Art Friends Club that was to publish the winning work. However, Janáček left the opportunity for composition print publication to Jaroslav Kvapil, a student of his who came second in the competition. The cycle In the Mists was first performed by Marie Dvořáková in Kroměříž on 7 December 1913.