Semyon Bychkov conducts Smetana's Má vlast

Czech Philharmonic: Velvet Revolution Concert 2020

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Czech Philharmonic

Semyon Bychkov — Conductor

Program notes

The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and maestro Semyon Bychkov join forces to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the first free elections in Czechoslovakia—denoting democracy, freedom, and non-violence in the country—with an exceptional concert in the magnificent Rudolfinum of Prague, performing Smetana’s tone poem Má Vlast (My Country), an evocative masterpiece that contains the sweeping Vltava (The Moldau).

The Velvet Revolution marked a historic period for Czechoslovakia, which finally broke free from the communist dictatorship after 41 years of one-party rule. This party was replaced by a freely and democratically elected government, a result of the non-violent transition of power which took place from 17 November to 29 December 1989. Thirty years later, at the height of lockdown, the musicians of the Czech Philharmonic perform Bedřich Smetana’s poignant symphonic cycle Má Vlast (My Country) in the empty hall of the Rudolfinum. Drawing inspiration from folklore, the six symphonic poems evoke the landscapes and legends of the composer’s country, as well as the history of its capital, Prague. Semyon Bychkov, the ensemble’s music director since 2018, is the ideal conductor to portray Smetana’s grand vision. He gives the orchestra time to prepare phrase after phrase for the apogee of the first poem Vyšehrad and the most famous poem Vltava (The Moldau), which transports us into an idyllic, fantastical, and mysterious world…

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