PP NAP | Petr Popelka

Smetana’s 200th anniversary: Má vlast at the Rudolfinum

In celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Bedřich Smetana, this week Petr Popelka presented a complete cycle of the composer’s epic symphonic tone poem Má vlast (My Fatherland) with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra (SOČR).

The poignancy of Má vlast is rooted in its symbolisation of the Czech National Revival, a time when the Czech people sought to reassert their cultural, political, and linguistic identity after a long period of stagnation. In the 20th century, the work served as a significant symbol of hope and resilience during challenging times and major political turning points.

C Michael Fanta | Petr Popelka

© Michael Fanta / SOČR

A long-time champion of Smetana’s work, Petr gave an in-depth interview with German radio station Deutschlandfunk Kultur, during which he discussed Smetana’s role in shaping Czech national music through his compositional style, as well as the enduring popularity and educational inclusion of the movement Vltava (The Moldau) and its part within Má Vlast. The discussion also touched upon the political and cultural implications of Smetana’s music, particularly how it has been interpreted and reinterpreted through historical lenses and performances, comparing recordings of the work.

You can listen to the full interview below (in German):