Monday, December 2, 2013

‘Má Vlast’ (‘My Fatherland’)

Bedřich Smetana ( . . . 2 March 1824 – 12 May 1884) was a Czech composer who pioneered the development of a musical style which became closely identified with his country's aspirations to independent statehood.

Source:, accessed 2 Dec. 2013.

Smetana was a Romantic of the Nationalist variety, his works often employing traditional Czech tunes and painting musical portraits of his homeland. The epitome of Romantic Nationalism, and easily greatest of Smetana’s opus is Má Vlast (My Fatherland). The first movement is entitled “Vyšehrad” (“The High Castle”); its opening melody, introduced on harps immediately, magically conjures up visions of vanished, once-mighty Bohemian kingdoms. This feeling of nostalgia permeates too the second movement, the most famous of the piece’s seven, which describes the flowing of the Vltava River. Its central theme is also riven with nostalgia. Four of the succeeding movements depict specific Czech historical events and legends (the line between the line is often properly blurred), and one paints a vivid picture of “Bohemia’s Woods and Fields.”

Source:  Stephen Klugewicz, ‘The Ten Most Beautiful Classical Symphonies’,, accessed 2 Dec. 2013.

Is it not past the time for a Southern composer to write a symphony expressing the same aspirations as Smetana?  How much material is there for one to work with!  The folk tunes of the South, the legends of Capt John Smith and Pocahontas, the discovery of Virginia bursting with the abundance of life, the early privations, the later quiet of farming life, the clangor of sectional strife, the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia or the Appalachian foothills in Georgia, the mighty rushing of the Mississippi River, the quiet creeping of the bayous in Louisiana, the camp meetings/revivals, the many victories and tragedies of the War, Appomattox, Reconstruction, new battles against globalism, scientism, etc., and on and on and on.

May the Lord bless us one day with such a wonderful gift!

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