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Observations placeholder

Smetana - Ma Vlast - Moldau



Type of Spiritual Experience


Má vlast (Czech pronunciation: [maː vlast], meaning "My homeland" in the Czech language) is a set of six symphonic poems composed between 1874 and 1879 by the Czech composer Bedřich Smetana. While it is often presented as a single work in six movements and – with the exception of Vltava – is almost always recorded that way, the six pieces were conceived as individual works. They had their own separate premieres between 1875 and 1880; the premiere of the complete set took place on 5 November 1882 in Žofín Palace, Prague, under Adolf Čech, who had also conducted two of the individual premieres.

Vltava, also known by its German name Die Moldau (or The Moldau), was composed between 20 November and 8 December 1874 and was premiered on 4 April 1875 under Adolf Čech. It is about 13 minutes long, and is in the key of E minor.

In this piece, Smetana uses tone painting to evoke the sounds of one of Bohemia's great rivers. In his own words:

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).

The piece contains Smetana's most famous tune. It is an adaptation of the melody La Mantovana, attributed to the Italian renaissance tenor, Giuseppe Cenci, which, in a borrowed Romanian form, was also the basis for the Israeli national anthem, Hatikvah. The tune also appears in major in an old folk Czech song Kočka leze dírou ("The Cat Crawls Through the Hole"), Hanns Eisler used it for his "Song of the Moldau”, and Stan Getz performed it as “Dear old Stockholm” (probably through another derivative of the original tune, “Ack Värmeland du sköna”).

A description of the experience

Smetana ~ Moldau

Ma vlast (My Fatherland): No. 2. Vltava (Moldau)" by Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra

The piece desribes the course of Vltava (Moldau is German word for Vltava) throughout Bohemia

0:00 Springs of Vltava - the spring of the water gushes from the earth. The two flutes symbolize two streams, which comprise the early part of the river.

1:07 Vltava's theme - the two streams meet and the river starts.

3:11 Forest theme - the river snakes through the forests of Šumava. You can hear the hunters calling a hunt on a horn.

4:20 Wedding scene - Polka symbolizes a wedding in the fields that the river is a witness of.

5:34 Night scene - A night falls. In a forest glade, fairies dance in the moonlight. On near rocks, sit old castles and ruins.

8:51 Vltava's theme

9:50 St John's Rapids

11:08 Vltava's theme

11:37 Vyšehrad castle - the river pasess through Prague, already big and strong (picture in the video). Here we can hear part of another Smetana's piece "Vyšehrad".

12:30 Vltava is slowing - the Vltava river ends by flowing into Elbe river.....

The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Brain damage
Deafness and tinnitus