In this score of Moldau (called also Vltava), by Smetana, arranged for piano by Lothar Lechner (edition Schott), should the notes circled in blue be kept or replayed at each measure ?

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5 Answers 5


The effect is intended to be a long sounding chord. How to make this happen depends on the instrument, e.g.:

  • on organ or synth, just keep pressing the keys (or activate a digital hold function)
  • on a string instrument, like Violine, you need to keep stimulation by the bow, while on acoustic Guitar you need repetition

On a piano (depending on the model) it can be difficult to sustain (pedal) AND not-sustain (other voices) at the same time, so the effect may require some mix of longer decay (hit chord notes harder) and repetition, or split of piano (second pianist).

  • Last para. - not true. Please read my answer.
    – Tim
    Nov 13 at 12:35
  • 1
    Agree. As I wrote: it depends on the instrument.
    – MS-SPO
    Nov 13 at 12:41
  • What I meant is it isn't difficult to sustain just those notes on piano, with sostenuto. You state it is.
    – Tim
    Nov 13 at 13:29
  • You are right, I stated "it is", while I had a more realtive situation in mind. So I reformulated the last paragraph. Sorry for creating confusion.
    – MS-SPO
    Nov 13 at 14:34
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    @Tim in keeping with the principal that it "depends on the instrument," it's worthwhile to note that a significant proportion of modern pianos lack a sostenuto pedal. I see that you mention this in your answer, but it's not evident from the comment thread on this answer.
    – phoog
    Nov 14 at 8:49

The arranger really needed three staves to show what's going on here. It's hard to pick out the melody, which is played by horns and low winds in the original:

Moldau horns

If you look at the low B at the end of bar 107 in your picture, you'll see that, although it hasn't got a tie coming from it, the following chord has that B tied to it. And so has the chord in the last bar. The arranger is giving you a lot of information! That's useful in an orchestral reduction, but in an arrangement it might be a bit too much.

In other words, some of the G-sharps and B's in the dotted minim chords are part of the melody and could (with three staves) be written as crotchets.

Here are bars 107-9 showing how Smetana uses the horns to animate the E chord while also sustaining it.

Moldau Horns in C

  • 1
    +1 for showing us the LH melody.
    – Rosie F
    Nov 14 at 7:08
  • Weird. It's weird that there is a tie on the B line when there's no B in the chord in m. 108. But the precision that is evident from the fact that this tie first appears at this point certainly supports this interpretation -- conclusively, I would say. That the arrangement inserts quarter rests in the left hand is also weird -- I'd guess that it's the closest approximation the engraver could produce to the desired result after wrangling with the notation software rather than the actual desired result. I'd've added a low B in 108 and/or included pedal markings.
    – phoog
    Nov 14 at 9:02
  • But wait -- this is a professionally published edition, so strike the comment about the software; it could well be actually engraved by hand depending on the date, and even if it is not, I doubt Schott would let the limitations of software affect their output to that degree. Is the melody given in this answer played as such by all the horns and low winds, or is it a composite in which some parts actually do have rests here and there? (Also, sympathy from another aging dog who frequently has difficulty unlearning old tricks :-) )
    – phoog
    Nov 14 at 9:06
  • On the date: Lothar Lechner's page at Schott gives his dates as 1904-1982, but the preview PDF shows a copyright date of 1997/2009, so it's likely not engraved by hand.
    – phoog
    Nov 14 at 9:19
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    @phoog - They say doing crosswords helps :-) Nov 15 at 4:43

It's a piano transcription, so liberties have to sometimes be taken.

However, with the advent of the sostenuto pedal, found on a lot of pianos on the West of the Atlantic - much rarer in Europe - if pressed as those notes are played, those notes will continue to sound, while others played after will not. At least until the player plays them again.

Having said that, most of those bars are arpeggiated chords, so using the sustain pedal throughout, changing when appropriate, won't go too far amiss, as all the notes will blend into good sounding chords.


It's clear that the chord is not intended to be replayed at the beginning of each bar.

It is tempting to suggest using the sostenuto pedal (if available) - the one which 'latches' the notes being played when it's depressed but doesn't affect subsequent ones.

What would sound different with the sostenuto pedal compared with the sustain one? The low B - not included in the held chord would be more distinct. The RH notes would not be sustained.

The arranger should have been more specific.


The notes are tied, so they are not repeated. Most likely you’re supposed to use pedal here and keep the notes ringing. This sort of notation (with the ties being shortened) is used to avoid the measure being filled with ties, leaving no space for the other notes. This type of notation is not entirely uncommon.

  • 1
    A lot of those notes are tied, but to what is unclear. What is clear is that they are played again in the same bar - counting makes that very clear. -1.
    – Tim
    Nov 14 at 8:31

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