Bedrich Smetana was the Bohemia's pianist and composer. He was born in 1824 in Leitomischl, small town in eastern Bohemia, present day Czech Republic. Smetana was a gifted child. He debuted in a string quartet at the age of five, and as a pianist only one year later. He wrote his first piano piece when he was eight years old, and at the age of fifteen he composed his first string quartet. Smetana's father was a music lover who gave to his son much musical training.
Bedrich Smetana gained the worldwide fame with opera "Bartered Bride". He's, however, the best known for opera "My Country". Smetana lived and composed in mid and second part of the nineteenth century. That period is well known as a period of bad political conditions in Europe. Many revolutions had struck Bohemia and the rest of the Europe. Austria was extremely powerful in that period.
German was the official language in Bohemia and Smetana couldn't even write his native tongue. Because of these happenings, there was a huge growth of nationalism. That nationalism is recognizable in many compositions in that period. Smetana is considered as one of the musical nationalists. His best peace is "Ma Vlast", or "My Country".
Smetana was composing this peace for five years, between 1874 and 1879. This works are inspired by the great beauty of Bohemia's countryside. "The Moldau" is the part of the opera "Ma Vlast", and it's considered as the one of the finest orchestral music achievements. This composition is the second symphonic poem in "My Country". The Moldau is the German name for the great Czech river Vltava. "The Moldau" describes the flow of this river through lovely countryside of Smetana's country.
At the end of the peace, the Moldau approaches the capital city of Prague. The rhythm of "The Moldau" is organized in triple beat movement. Related to majority of western civilization composers, Smetana used complex texture. In this case, he used polyphonic texture. During the major part of "The Moldau", the tempo is piano and pianissimo. The tempo of the peace is the loudest at the end.
With that loud part, Smetana described the greatness of the capital city of Prague, and his country's proud history. In the beginning of "The Moldau", the flutes are dominating. Slowly, they are replaced by the clarinets. Second part of the composition is developed from cellos and double basses.
The form of this musical composition is the three part A-B-A form. Smetana used repetition and variation. He uses E-minor, C-major, G-major, A-major, and then he repeats E-minor. Last part is in totally different key, E-major. During his life, Bedrich Smetana had many health problems. While writing "Ma Vlast", he was troubled by the tinnitus which accompanied his deafness.
He spent his last days in the mental asylum. Bedrich Smetana died in the afternoon of May 12th, 1884. "I am not ashamed to tell you in my mother tongue, however imperfectly, and am glad to be able to show that my fatherland means more to me than anything else". Bedrich Smetana.