Bedrich Smetana

Vltava (The Moldau), symphonic poem (Má Vlast No. 2), JB 1:112/2

    Description by Robert Cummings

    The Moldau is the most popular six works comprising Bedrich Smetana's collection of symphonic poems assembled under the title Má Vlast (My Country). It is, in fact, one of the most widely performed symphonic poems ever written. Vltava is the name of a river that runs through rural Czechoslovakia and Prague. Moldau is its German name and has come to be the preferred title for this piece, not least because Smetana himself was a German-speaking Czech. The Moldau was chronologically the second of the six works in Má Vlast. During its composition, the composer was plagued by severe headaches, symptoms of a condition that would cause him to go completely deaf in October 1874. Smetana had found his walks along the shores of the Moldau a source of compositional inspiration and thus decided to include a portrait of it in this series, which he began in 1872 with Vysehrad. He gave The Moldau a sort of Rondo structure and divided it into eight continuous sections. A pair of swirling flutes opens the work to represent the two sources (springs) of the Moldau, and then energetic clarinets soon join them before the famous main theme is presented. Played by the strings overtop busily swirling harmonies, this melody has a Czech folk-like character in its serene, proud character, and represents the Moldau River. Oddly, research supports the view that the source of this theme is a Swedish folk song, Ack, Värmland du sköna. After some development of the river theme, there follows the "Forest Hunt," wherein horns and trumpets impart a triumphant sense to the music. Another but quite lively and joyous folk-ish theme then depicts a "Peasant Wedding" celebration. "Moonlight: Dance of the Water Nymphs" ensues, bringing instrumentation of delicate textures and music of nocturnal serenity. The main theme briefly returns before "The Rapids," a lively, powerful section in some ways corresponding to the "Thunderstorm" in Beethoven's Symphony No. 6. Again, the river theme returns, but soon yields to the Vysehrad, wherein Smetana quotes the main theme from the set's first symphonic poem. This grandiose section leads to what would be a quiet ending, but for the two boisterous chords that spring up to close the work. The Moldau typically has a duration of about 12 to 13 minutes.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 Arco Diva UP 0180
    2015 Dux Records DUX 0804
    2015 DG Deutsche Grammophon 002894795229
    2014 Warner Classics 2564633593
    2014 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler PH 07016
    2014 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2014 Warner Classics 545069
    2014 RCA Red Seal 88883746982
    2013 Doron Music 5041
    2013 K-Tel 87231
    2013 Telarc TEL 34362-25
    2013 Telarc TEL 3403002
    2013 K-Tel 85246
    2013 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099972328
    2013 Back Door Productions
    2013 AAO Music PWM 71292
    2012 Classic FM
    2012 Classic FM
    2012 Analekta ANLCD 29986
    2012 DG Deutsche Grammophon 4783378
    2012 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099995547
    2012 DG Deutsche Grammophon 002894770055
    2012 Berlin Classics BER 300347
    2012 Broken Audio BRAU 0486
    2012 Decca
    2012 Concerto / Zebralution
    2011 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099991762
    2011 Bella Musica / Zebralution
    2011 Warner Classics
    2011 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099908215826
    2011 Decca 444 867-2DH
    2011 Sony Music
    2011 Sony Music Distribution
    2011 Sony Music 88697915022
    2011 Bella Musica / Zebralution
    2011 K-Tel 51122
    2011 W.W. Norton
    2011 Norton / W.W. Norton
    2011 EMI Classics
    2011 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099990811920
    2010 Opus KURA 7047
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 Berlin Classics 0300087
    2010 Bayard 431236
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 STC2 0129
    2010 RCA Red Seal 7690512
    2010 Supraphon 40162
    2010 X5 Music Group 21209
    2009 Decca Crossover
    2009 World of Classic / Zebralution
    2009 Supraphon SU4013
    2009 Bella Musica / Zebralution
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Bella Musica / Zebralution
    2009 Decca
    2009 Decca 4800574
    2009 Document / Membran 231754
    2009 EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    2009 Haenssler 98540
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Doron Music 3054
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Deutsche Grammophon
    2009 X5 Music Group 17500
    2009 Encora ENC 008
    2008 X5 Music Group
    2008 Berlin Classics 184592
    2008 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler 8065
    2008 Madacy Entertainment 53763
    2008 Madacy 52948
    2008 Madacy 52946
    2008 Berlin Classics 0184582BC
    2008 Landscape Classics / Zebralution
    2008 EMI Classics 15934
    2008 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2008 DG Deutsche Grammophon 4777341
    2008 DG Deutsche Grammophon 423769
    2008 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099951203
    2008 Haenssler 98524
    2008 EMI Classics / EMI Music Distribution 507538
    2007 K-Tel 1033
    2007 Idis 6509
    2007 EMI Classics 92442
    2007 Classic Mania 93320
    2007 EMI Classics 00878
    2007 Warner Classics
    2007 Octave, Les Productions 23326
    2007 Deutsche Grammophon / DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2007 Supraphon 39162
    2007 DG Deutsche Grammophon 4777018
    2007 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2007 London/Decca / Decca 4758079
    2006 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 0946365645
    2006 Madacy 52239
    2006 Decca 4757479
    2006 Madacy Distribution / Madacy TC252367
    2006 DG Deutsche Grammophon 459177
    2006 Virgin 48727
    2005 Madacy 3392
    2005 Archipel 0190
    2005 Naxos 8558155-56
    2005 Brilliant 92779
    2005 Claves 502506
    2005 Gega New 247
    2005 Radiance Records 17488
    2005 EMI Music Distribution 57858
    2005 RCA Red Seal 67903
    2005 Platinum Entertainment 3778
    2004 DG Deutsche Grammophon 000345902
    2004 Avid 602
    2004 Praga Digitals 250189
    2004 EMI Music Distribution 62793
    2004 Intersound 5849
    2004 Denon Records 17409
    2004 Haenssler 98361
    2004 Angelok 1 7751
    2004 Delta Distribution 16393
    2004 JVC Compact Discs 24019
    2004 Denon Records 17380
    2003 Motette 13011
    2003 Real Sound (RS) 109
    2003 Tahra 1
    2003 Laserlight / Delta Distribution 40044
    2003 Haenssler 98439
    2003 History 45515
    2003 Madacy HFP 23395
    2003 Delta / Delta Distribution / Laserlight 40019
    2003 Delta Distribution 40093
    2003 The Gift of Music 1061
    2002 Arte Nova 67513
    2002 Disques Pierre Verany 730007
    2002 History 205645
    2002 DG Deutsche Grammophon 29436
    2002 EMI Music Distribution 75091
    2002 History 205180
    2002 Classica d'Oro 1062
    2002 BCI-Eclipse Distribution / Brentwood Records 40264
    2002 BCI Music (Brentwood Communication) / Brentwood Records 40279
    2002 Classica d'Oro 9007
    2001 Classica d'Oro 1008
    2001 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2001 Multisonic 310509
    2001 Eclipse Music Group 540
    2001 Eclipse Music Group / Eclipse Records 538
    2001 History 205241
    2000 D Classics 70587
    2000 Supraphon SU3484-2
    2000 Delta Distribution 24473
    2000 Madacy 9157
    2000 Sony Music Distribution 89412
    2000 Tahra 121/23
    2000 Studio Matous 07012931
    2000 RCA 70931
    2000 Amadis 7111
    2000 Koch Schwan / Koch Schwann 31830
    2000 DG Deutsche Grammophon 4634852
    2000 EMI Music Distribution 69603
    2000 Platinum Entertainment 1133
    2000 Platinum Entertainment 977
    2000 Laserlight 40013
    1999 Magic Master 37059
    1999 Madacy 4809
    1999 Music & Arts 4788
    1999 Madacy 8620
    1999 Claves 509316
    1999 Magic Talent 48096
    1999 DG Deutsche Grammophon 413587
    1999 BCI Music (Brentwood Communication) 4402
    1999 BCI Music (Brentwood Communication) 440
    1999 Angel Records 66227
    1999 RCA 59484
    1999 Sony Music Distribution 61698
    1999 Masterpiece 99016
    1998 Grammofono 2000 78805
    1998 Masterpiece / SPJ Music 92007
    1998 Supraphon SU3392-2
    1998 Sony Classical SMK-60561
    1998 Delta Distribution 11536
    1998 Capriccio Records 31003
    1998 Mercury 462953
    1998 Naxos 8 554066
    1998 MDG 3200818
    1997 Madacy 3714
    1997 HR-Musik 70062
    1997 Grammofono 2000 78026
    1997 Reference Recordings 80
    1997 DG Deutsche Grammophon 449900
    1997 BX 99322
    1997 Point 267111
    1997 BMG 68443
    1997 St. Clair 99392
    1997 Point Classics 2688392
    1996 Magic Talent 48018
    1996 Otello 7605
    1996 London / London 448 952-2LPF
    1996 Nesak International 17008
    1996 Nesak International 10001
    1996 Par Excellence/St. Clair 24332
    1996 Studio Matous 00142131
    1996 Chandos 7047
    1995 Madacy 400
    1995 Madacy 5665
    1995 Intercord Klassische Diskothek 892934
    1995 Madacy 1606
    1995 DG Deutsche Grammophon 439663
    1995 Supraphon 112249
    1995 Sony Music Distribution 47547
    1995 Classical Gallery 7006
    1995 BCI Music (Brentwood Communication) 2343
    1995 Preiser Records 90229
    1995 Classical Creations 820553
    1995 Madacy 8707
    1995 DG Deutsche Grammophon 445550
    1995 Lydian 18111
    1995 Madacy 8714
    1995 Madacy 5654
    1995 Sony Music Distribution 23246
    1995 Supraphon 0063
    1995 Laserlight 35816
    1995 Curb 78030
    1994 Naxos 551149
    1994 Music & Arts 788
    1994 Telarc Distribution 80100
    1994 Classical Heritage 1204
    1994 Chesky 108
    1994 EMI Music Distribution 65205
    1994 Delos 1032
    1994 Laserlight 15815
    1993 Telarc Distribution 80327
    1993 DG Deutsche Grammophon 439009
    1993 Pearl 9401
    1993 RCA / RCA Victor 61503
    1993 Decca 4338702
    1992 Sony Music Distribution 48264
    1992 Naxos 550376
    1992 Timeless 198
    1992 Chesky 65
    1991 Laserlight 15683
    1990 Laserlight 55005
    1990 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    1990 Laserlight 15503
    1987 DG Deutsche Grammophon 415 851-2GGA
    History 204571
    EMI Music Distribution 67676
    Concerto 2818
    Koch Schwann 310037
    IMP BBC Radio Classics 9103
    CBS Records 36716
    RFCM Symphony Orchestra
    Sony Music Distribution 46706
    DG Deutsche Grammophon 472649
    Seraphim UK 569581-2
    Decca 4757730
    Bose 12
    RCA 60206
    Tiempo 8
    Madacy 8623
    DCL 703162
    ART 003657
    Madacy Entertainment 53764
    Pilz 160208
    ART 003658
    Time/Life Music 13614
    Stradivari 6118
    Madacy 52368
    International Monetar 41
    Das Grosse Musik Fest 301015
    Philips Digital Classics 416382
    Stradivari 6056
    CBS Records 42417
    London 417678
    EMI Angel 69005
    RCA 60279
    DG Deutsche Grammophon 4636502
    DG Deutsche Grammophon 415509
    Eyebic 50006
    Conifer 51522
    Naxos 110907
    Tahra 121
    Grammofono 78778
    Historical Performers 14
    Mack Duo 649288308523
    Sony Music Distribution 23980
    IMP Classics 9015
    Davidoff Classic 2005
    History 205647-303
    Musique d'Or 1046
    Laserlight 14719
    Disky 859402
    RCA 69135
    In Classical Mood 12007
    DG Deutsche Grammophon 427028
    Supraphon 0298
    Supraphon 110298
    EMI Music Distribution 69465
    Sirio 53007
    History 205182
    Activ 503037
    Naxos 550554
    ZYX Music 20297
    CBS Records 42391
    DG Deutsche Grammophon 427438
    St. Clair 24472
    Nesak International 17009
    All Russia
    IMP Classics 24
    EMI Angel / EMI Music Distribution 69232
    Philharmonia of the Nations 58
    Edel Classics 632
    RCA 60119
    Arcade Music 71106
    EXL 5208
    Das Grosse Musik Fest 301018
    London 430212
    Multisonic 310045
    Multisonic 0045
    Somerset Entertainment / Sonoma STCE0182
    Sony Music Distribution 27244
    McGraw Hill 6545
    EMI Classics 65983
    Edel Records 45096/4
    Arcade Music 301506
    Sophia Pallas and Julian Trail
    Forum Records 46205758
    Magic Master 37040
    Intercord Klassische Diskothek 830816
    Erato 45928
    EXL 4251
    Music & Arts 623
    Masters of the Millennium 2027
    Grand Gala 2154
    BBC Music Magazine 137
    IMG Artists 100
    EMI Music Distribution 64291
    Enterprise 4122
    DG Deutsche Grammophon 453834
    ABC Classics 4766209
    ABC Classics 4766215
    RealTime 2004
    Stradivari 6083
    RCA 60340
    Vox 8774
    Vox 8759
    Nesak International 17000
    Rca Red Seal 6205
    REM 311098
    History 205244
    EMI Music Distribution 65915
    Grammofono 2000 78523