The poetic journey of a famous river from its trickling sources through to the mighty capital city and beyond.
Bedřich Smetana (1824-1884) was a nationalist composer from Bohemia, part of what is now the Czech Republic.
‘Ma Vlast’, or 'My Homeland', is a set of six symphonic poems he wrote in the late 1870’s.
‘Vltava’, or ‘The Moldau’ is the second and most well-known of the six, and it describes the sounds of one of Bohemia’s great rivers, starting from two small springs, their unification into one stream (bringing forth Smetana’s most memorable tune), and passing through various landscapes.
There's a forest, a hunting party (listen for the horns), and the scene of a farmer’s wedding celebration, complete with polka.
The day draws to a close, and nymphs appear at the water’s edge and begin to dance. After a while the stream broadens out into a full, fast-flowing river.
- The famous melody on which the piece is based isn’t actually original. Smetana adapted it from an Italian Renaissance tune, La Mantovana, and it’s even been used as the basis for the Israeli National Anthem.
- Smetana became afflicted with severe tinnitus, leading to deafness. As a result he was not able to hear four of his six 'Ma Vlast' symphonic poems.
- Vyšerad castle was something of a symbol of Czech freedom. Fittingly, Smetana himself is buried in a cemetery on the site of that legendary fortress.
Recorded by RNZ Concert, 18 October 2018 in Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington
Producer: David McCaw
Engineer: Graham Kennedy