2. Vyšehrad & The Bells of Zlonice

In the middle of the nineteenth century German music divided into two camps: on the one hand you had the modernists – the Neudeutsche Schule [New German School] – as represented by Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner; and on the other, the traditionalists whose main proponents were Johannes Brahms and Clara Schumann. While the conservatives were faithful to the sonata and the concomitant symphony, the modernists looked to new means to structure their music – Brahms wrote symphonies, Liszt tone poems and Wagner music dramas.

The Czechs, though pretty much united in their new-found nationalism, were, however, not immune to this controversy, with their two principal mid-nineteenth century musical representatives, Smetana and Dvořák, seemingly joining opposing factions; Smetana espousing the Liszt/Wagner camp and writing tone poems; while Dvořák, being a protégé of Brahms, wrote symphonies (of course, it’s not that straightforward – Smetana did compose an early symphony and Dvořák had a deep admiration for Wagner and wrote several tone poems).

Here’s the rarely performed earliest of Dvořák’s symphonies, entitled The Bells of Zlonice, prefaced by the first of Smetana’s great cycle of nationalist tone poems (Má vlast), Vyšehrad (The High Castle)




00:00 Maestoso – Allegro (c)
19:01 Adagio molto (A-flat)
32:43 Allegretto (c)
41:26 Finale: Allegro animato (C)


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