Today at the Proms - Prom 2

Continuing our daily coverage of what's on at The Proms 2019, Susan Omand has a quick look at the programme for Prom 2: Bohemian Rhapsody ...

This Prom will be televised tomorrow (Sunday 21st) on BBC Four at 19:30

Is this the real life? Is it just fantasy? Neither. It's Dvořák and Smetana and a Czech 1-2 (see what I did there? Oh never mind).

The three movements of Dvořák's concerto actually only sound like two when played because the first two run together. This caused consternation at the time for the Hungarian violinist Joseph Joachim, to whom the work is dedicated, because he didn't actually like how the classical form had been messed about with. So much so that, apparently Joachim never actually played the piece in public even though it had been written for him!

In contrast, Smetana's Má Vlast (My Homeland) is a collection of six separate tone poems, looking at the countryside, history and folklore of his native Bohemia (the westmost side of the current Czech Republic). Castles, rivers, cities, forests and mountains all feature, but only one tone poem looks at a person. The third poem in the set, Šárka, is named for a female warrior who was a central character in an ancient legend of an uprising of the country's women against its men called The Maidens' War! You can get a more detailed version of the story HERE but the general gist is Šárka, a lieutenant of the women's army sets a trap for a band of armed men with herself as bait, tied to a tree and playing the damsel in distress. When they rescued her, thanks to the leader of the men falling in love with her, she put a sleeping draft into their mead and, once they were all asleep, she sounded a hunting horn and her gang of gal pals appeared and slaughtered them all.

Here's the full 9 minutes of the poem Šárka from Má Vlast - remember to listen for that hunting horn!

Here's the full programme for this evening's Prom which you can listen to live from 19:30 on Radio 3 or on the iPlayer 

Antonín Dvořák
Violin Concerto in A minor (32 mins)


Bedrich Smetana
Má vlast (75 mins)

Image - Photo © Chris Christodoulou
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