Moldau, The

From Wind Repertory Project
Bedřich Smetana

Bedřich Smetana (arr. John Cacavas; ed. R. Mark Rogers)

General Info

Year: 1874 / 1999
Duration: c. 13:20
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: Southern Music
Cost: Score and Parts - $149.95   |   Score Only - $19.95


Full Score
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Cornet I-II-III
B-flat Trumpet I-II
E-flat Horn or Alto I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II
Trombone I-II-III
Bass Trombone
String Bass
Percussion, including:

(Percussion instrumentation undifferentiated in score)


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Vltava, also known by its German name Die Moldau (or The Moldau), was composed between 20 November and 8 December 1874 and was premiered on 4 April 1875 under Adolf Čech. It is about 12 minutes long, and is in the key of E minor.

In this piece, Smetana uses tone painting to evoke the sounds of one of Bohemia's great rivers. In his own words:

The composition describes the course of the Vltava, starting from the two small springs, the Cold and Warm Vltava, to the unification of both streams into a single current, the course of the Vltava through woods and meadows, through landscapes where a farmer's wedding is celebrated, the round dance of the mermaids in the night's moonshine: on the nearby rocks loom proud castles, palaces and ruins aloft. The Vltava swirls into the St John's Rapids; then it widens and flows toward Prague, past the Vyšehrad, and then majestically vanishes into the distance, ending at the Labe (or Elbe, in German).

The piece contains Smetana's most famous tune. It is an adaptation of the melody La Mantovana, attributed to the Italian renaissance tenor, Giuseppe Cenci, which, in a borrowed Moldovan form, was also the basis for the Israeli national anthem, Hatikvah. The tune also appears in major in an old folk Czech song Kočka leze dírou (The Cat Crawls Through the Hole), and Hanns Eisler used it for his Song of the Moldau.

- Program Note from Wikipedia

The great classical melodies of the 19th century were part of a trend of nationalism in the music. The European music scene was enriched by the variety of new sounds and styles, as one ethnic group after another broke out of political domination. Smetana was the first to successfully blend the folksongs of his native Czech with the traditions of Western art music. The Moldau or “Vltava” is the second in a series of symphonic poems entitled Ma Vlast (My Fatherland). He wanted his audience to know the significance of the cycle of these poems.

The Moldau is from two sources, one cold and one warm. The stream gradually widens through woods and meadows, where one can hear hunting horns, a small village celebrating a wedding, running under the moonlight where water nymphs dance. Moldering castles and mansions line the river, and as it rushes through the St. John rapids, the music becomes wilder, until it returns to the stately broad river that flows through Prague, under the Vyšehrad (a rocky bluff overlooking Prague which was the seat of the ancient Bohemian kings), to where it passes out of sight and joins the Elbe River.

- Program Note from Cypress Symphonic Band concert program, 25 September 2016


(Needed - please join the WRP if you can help.)

State Ratings

  • Alabama: Class AA
  • Florida: VI
  • Georgia: VI
  • Louisiana: V
  • Maryland: IVI
  • Minnesota: I
  • Mississippi: I-A
  • North Carolina: VI
  • Texas: V. Complete


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Ottawa (Ont., Can.) Wind Ensemble (Douglas Sturdevant, conductor) - 1 December 2022
  • Rhode Island (Providence) Wind Ensemble (Robert Franzblau, conductor) – 10 June 2017
  • Cypress Symphonic Band (Houston, Tex.) (Clarence Weeks,conductor) – 25 September 2016
  • Encore Concert Band (Mokena, Ill.) (Bill Schuetter, conductor) - 1 March 2015

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

  • Vltava (Flex instrumentation) (arr. Ehara) (1874/2014)

All Wind Works