Slavic Saturday

OK, I’ll bite. Last week Rob Grigjanis mentioned Antonín Dvořák and he indeed is one of Czech composers whose work is dear to my heart. I particularly like his Slavonic Dances, Opus 46. I was looking for a video that I like and unfortunately the only one that I do cannot be embedded, so you would have to head over to Czech TV Website. I hope it works for out-of state too. Other recordings that I have found on YouTube I did not like – right at the first dance “Furiant” seemed either too fast or too bland.

That I make such judgement is slightly ironic and possibly unfair to the musicians. I do not dance at all and I hate it, particularly polka. Surely everyone knows polka, although not everyone knows that it is originally Czech dance. My experience with it is however rather unpleasant – I was always a bad dancer, but it was seen as somewhat required to take dance lessons in highschool, so I did, being awkward and clumsy all the time despite my best effort. And polka was for me the last straw in this string of tortures – at the end of the lesson my disgruntled dance partner has lifted her skirt and has shown me her feet that were kicked and stomped bloody. That put a final crimp in my (non-existent as it was) desire to dance that dance ever again, since I try not to hurt people on principle.

It is not that I do not have a sense of rhythm, but everyone tells me polka has two and a half step (hence the name půlka(half)-polka), however I simply hear three steps and that daft little half-skip just tangles both my brain and my feet. Not that other dances are much better with their inane jumping and turning and all that nonsense. I do not see the point of dancing, really.

But the music can be beautiful and can move me to tap my feet or nod my head a little. That much I admit.

Slavic Saturday

Today’s snippet is from my home country.

It is a symphonic poem “Vltava” from a series of six such poems in a musical epos “Má Vlast” (My Country) written by Czech composer Bedřich Smetana. Vltava is the most known from the six and in my opinion rightly so. It is an astounding piece of music, all the more impressive for the fact that Smetana composed it at a time when he was deaf. So he never actually got to hear it except in his head.

Truth be told I do not much care for most of Bedřich Smetana’s works, because he mostly wrote operas. And I was to one of his opera’s once, in school, and it was boring as hell. The singing, the implausible stories and lack of acting in my opinion destroy the beautiful music. But I did not care much about Má Vlast either at that time, partly because of natural tendency of children to oppose anything that is a part of the curriculum and partly probably because my brain was not mature enough to enjoy this kind of music. Maybe nowadays I could enjoy opera done properly?

This recording has the added dimension of being made in Prague Spring Festival in 1968, a year when Czechoslovak Socialist Republic had also a political Prague Spring,  when its people peacefully stood up to the USSR bully in wanting to determine their own fates and got beaten into submission in return.

And finally, before you can enjoy the music, author’s own words explaining what it means (a rare and very specific occurrence):

The composition describes the run of Vltava, beginning at its both springs, the warm and the cold Vltava, the confluence of both streamlets into one, then Vltava’s flow through woods and meadows, through landscapes where merry feasts are held; in Moon’s night glow veela dance; on the cliffs proud castles and their ruins stand; Vltava foams in St. Johns rapids; flows in a broad stream towards Prague, Vyšehrad shows up, and it ends its majestic flow n the distance in Labe.


Slavic Saturday

I do not think I could make this a regular feature, but possibly an irregular one – some random snippets from the Slavophone world whenever I notice something interesting – be it art, traditions, languages, politics. Let me know if you would be interested.

I instantly fell in love this song (and some others from this band). It is so cheery and silly. And I love violin.

And yes, the text is silly, although my Russian is not so good so I could understand it all instantly. But I was able to parse some and with help of online translators translate the first half for you. Unfortunately I cannot translate all, because translating it into English was not only much more time consuming than I expected it to be  – but above all I started hiting on phrases that are probably Russian idioms whose meaning I do not know. Being able to understand the gist of something and translating it into another language is not the same thing I am afraid.

I ain’t no poet in addition to my rusty Russian, so take the translation with a grain of salt. The Skobari (скобари) is an ethnic group in Russia and I could not find any proper anglicized word for them. And you probably won’t be able to sing along the translation with the original.

Who goes there, who goes there
have a look at who goes there
riding on a crippled mare
that sems to be our Skobari.

Skobari are a jolly nation
going home from a fare
one bare naked, one bare footed
and one with an injured head.

Play me such one
Skobar funny
so my tummy doesn’t hurt
tummy mine, the sinner’s one.

Play me such one
thats good for dancing
but not for every
snot nose prancing.

Smashhing up, smashing up
I feel like smashing up.
And truth be told you
I feel like brawling too.

Who’s that lad
prancing knees
hasn’t got hands on
aspen sticks.

Pennies for a party one
daddy collects his loot.
Mom whispers in his ear:
“Don’t you get drunk you silly fool!”

I was born hopeless
with no respect too –
should the heads roll
I’ll tie the rope.

I am breaking, back is arching,
I’m not really feeling well,
give ne just one half a litre
and I no doctor is needed.

We saw the grave of the one
who called us drunkards.
We did drink for our own money
nobody was serving us.





Luna Day Mood.

Nergal two ways, three videos! Behemoth, of course, and Nergal’s recent side project, a Western fusion kind of thing, Me And That Man. CW: there’s brief full frontal nudity in the Behemoth video. It’s good to see Nergal continues to do well after the fight with leukemia. A lot of people are being asses about Me And That Man, but I say give it a chance. There’s the new Behemoth album you can run back to, but it’s normal for artists to stretch themselves now and again.

Behemoth – O Father O Satan O Sun!

Me And That Man – Ain’t Much Loving.

Me And That Man – Cross My Heart And Hope To Die.