Programme Guide

This musical journey takes us past centuries-old castles, along the bubbling Vltava, and is adorned with figures from Czech history and mythology. But Bedřich Smetana conjured up a dream world rather than reality with his lush orchestral sounds. When he composed the six haunting tone poems of vlast in the 1870s, the Czech Republic was still part of Austria-Hungary and a long way from the independence it longed for. As a result, numerous intellectuals became involved in collective nation-building: they wanted to make their contribution to a growing Czech national consciousness. Smetana’s vlast is perhaps the most famous result of this process.

While Vltava is almost unrivalled in terms of fame, the cycle as a whole is rarely performed. The other movements are no less captivating or masterfully orchestrated – all the more impressive because Smetana went deaf at the beginning of the composition process. So perhaps the composer was dreaming not only of an independent Czech Republic but also of the world of sound that was lost to him? Chief conductor Kirill Petrenko and the Berliner Philharmoniker explore this here in all its facets. Whether the grand legendary tone of the opening Vyšehrad, the vivid depictions of nature in Vltava and From Bohemia’s Groves and Fields or the heightened drama in Šárka, Tábor and Blaník – this is the captivating sound of Smetana’s Czechia!

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