MY COUNTRY - Cycle of symphonic Poems for large Orchestra
Smetana had in mind the figure of mystic bard Lumir, how, striking his hard with powerful chords, he begins and ends his epic poem of the oldrenowned fortress. He sings of, how the castle arose under the first heathen princes, how in the height of its prosperity an agitated life, of days in court tournaments and gay revelry resounded through its halls; how in after times feuds, battles and wars raged throughout Bohemia and how Vyšehrad fell. Only the ruins of the castle now remain, on which Smetana´s bard stood singing his song to the end.
The Vltava takes itssource in the Bohemian mountains from two small springs and its merry ripples flow gushing and gurgling together, until gradually they swell to a stream. In the forests the clear sound of the bugle to the hunt accompany its course. When it comes to the plain, the dancing and merry making of the country folk gayly greets it. At the rising of the moon nymphs and elves dance upon its waters and in fairy-rings upon the green, while old castles, around whose crumbling wals mysterious legends of Bohemian history are whispered, behold themselves in its waters. The Vltava is suddenly confined by steep banks of rock and now forces its way with a rush and a swirl over the huge boulders of its river-bed on to St. John´s Rapids. After struggling its way through, it flows all the more powerfully towards Vyšehrad, the castle of the first heathen princes of Bohemia. And here the song of its wawes sounds like a presentiment of more beautiful times to come.
Šárka has been betrayed in her love and has sworn vengeance against all men. Together with her maidens she leads a hard fight against them. Towards them comes Ctirad with his jolly suite. Suddenly he hears from afar a distressful voice, he follows the track and finds at last a girl bound to a tree. It is Šárka and the whole is a trick. Ctirad is overhelmed by her beauty and lets free. His suite also forgets the danger and soon the whole encampment lies in a deep sleep drunken with sweet mead. At this favourable moment Šárka gives the sing on a horn, to which the maidens who are hidden in the wood answer. They run together from all sides and overfall the sleeping men. The wild maidens shout at the successful revenge and in this unequal fight all man are murdered.
FROM BOHEMIA´S PLAINS AND GROVES
On a lovely summer-day we are standing in a beautiful part of the Bohemian country, whose flowery ornament, gentle mouvementand odourous atmosphere awakes enthusiasm in our soul. Leaving behind us all wordly noise we enter into a quiet, shady grove. A light zephyr quivers through the branches till the whole grove melts together wirth the song of the birds. In this grand hymn of nature we hear from afar the dreamy sounds of horns. A stronger draft of wind makes an end to this majestic quiet and after a while we hear joyful and exulting voices. The sounds come quickly nearer and in a short time we are surrounded by a joyful peasantry festival; in dancing and singing the country folk is merilly enjoying itself and the joyfulness spreads itself over fruitful plains in the form of the Bohemian national song.
The Hus period of the Bohemian history forms the principal idea of Smetanas symphonic poems „Tábor“ and the Hussite song „Kdož jste boží bojovníci!“ provides the musical material. As a holy confession of faith it falls from the lips of the Hussites, who are collected in the fortified town, and from there with word and sword announce freedom of thought and faith and defend themselves against the adversary. This powerful war-song also inflamed the Taborits to a victorious battle, and putt the enemy to flight. One hears in it the holy fire that drove them on to suffer even death for their conviction.
The heroic followers of Hus assembled in the heart of a distant mountain, far away in southern Bohemia, and are awaiting their country´s call for help. Shepherds are tending their flocks on the green meadows of the mountain side; neither they nor anybody else have an idea, that from the quiet slumbering mountain, will one day emerge a great army, that will bring peace and blessing to the Fatherland in danger.