The fourth of the Má vlast cycle of tone poems, Z českých luhů a hájů (variously translated as From Bohemia’s woods and fields, etc.) is the first of the pieces to lack some sort of definite narrative (i.e. the history of Vyšehrad; the course of the river Vltava; the story of the maiden warrior, Šárka). Instead it deals in the natural beauty of the Bohemian landscape and the joyous nature of the Czech people (as – of course – expressed in song and dance!) It’s a fascinating structure with constantly tightening fugal passages alternating with broad melody with this alternation only to be interrupted by what can only be described as a pretty wild village hop! In the composer’s own words:
“[It is] a painting of the feelings that fill one when gazing at the Bohemian landscape. On all sides singing, both gay and melancholic, resounds from fields and woods: the forest regions, depicted on the [. . .] individual parts of the work.”
Z českých luhů a hájů
fields and woods]
Fourth Symphony in d
Dvořák wrote two symphonies in d-minor, his fourth and seventh. The fourth, though still partially under Wagnerian influence, is another step forward in the composer’s symphonic technique. Shorter and more clearly differentiated melodic ideas – particularly in the first and last movements – add, for the listener, to a more precise sense of location. The slow movement is particularly interesting since it’s Dvořák’s first movement that’s in variation form.
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