The Moldau Essay

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Connie Ju | [The Moldau] Smetana | Year 11 Music 2 Musicology Essay |


Smetana’s Moldau is a musical portrayal of the main river which runs through the countryside of Bohemia (present day Czech Republic).
The piece begins with a sweet one bar theme that is played by two solo flutes, representing the trickle of a small creek. The soft melody played in piano and “lusingando”, which means to be played in a coaxing style, convey the delicate and smoothness of the water. The ascending semi-quavers accompanied with a slight crescendo at the beginning of the phrase as well as a two quaver rests at the end of the bar create a rippling effect, symbolising the slight waves of a stream. Furthermore, the lone plucked pizzicato quavers
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The polyphonic texture consists of two major layers and the randomly placed pizzicato chords which are a reminder of water’s unpredictable motions.
Bar 16 (flutes, clarinets, strings – polyphonic texture)
The two small rivers that make up the larger Moldau meets at bar 28 where the clarinets stop for a bar and the violas begin their melody. This short bar acts as a bridge, the connection where the bodies of water finally merge to create a great river. The bigger river in bar 29 is conveyed by the three different layers, flutes, clarinets, and violas. Continuous semi-quavers that rise and fall in pitch still represent the fluidity and continuity of the water but now the extra layer means that the river is wilder with bigger waves and other movements. Bar 28 (melodies played by flutes and strings) Bar 29-30 (flutes, clarinets, viola)

Bar 36 sees even more layers as the strings begin to play the flowing melody of the river. The start of the larger body of water is indicated by a strong perfect cadence by the lower strings (bar 36). At the widest point of the river, bar 40, the whole orchestra plays. All the instruments playing together expresses the notion that this is the climax of the river and it is wildest at this point. The wind instruments, however, play a slower melody of
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