Ma Vlast (My Homeland) is a set of six symphonic poems written by Bedřich Smetana. Smetana was a Czech composer whose music so embodied his people that he is considered the father of Czech music. He wrote this set of music as a tribute to his homeland. Each one of the pieces refers to either a place or legend of Bohemia, in what we now call Czech Republic.
Vltava was written in 1874 and evokes the feeling of one of Czech’s greatest rivers, the Vltava, otherwise known in German as the Moldau. Smetana told us the imagery he wanted the song to convey – “The composition describes the course of the Vltava, starting from the two small springs, the Cold and Warm Vltava, to the unification of both streams into a single current, the course of the Vltava through woods and meadows, through landscapes where a farmer’s wedding is celebrated, the round dance of the mermaids in the night’s moonshine: on the nearby rocks loom proud castles, palaces and ruins aloft. The Vltava swirls into the St John’s Rapids; then it widens and flows toward Prague, past the Vyšehrad, and then majestically vanishes into the distance, ending at the Labe (or Elbe, in German).”
Can you hear those aspects as you listen to the swirling majesty of this piece?