Liszt apparently believed the Hussite hymn upon which the Hussitenlied
is based to be of rather more ancient origin than it transpires to be. Noting that the melody is by Josef Theodor Krov (1797–1859) we may dispense with Liszt’s continuation of the title as ‘aus dem 15. Jahrhundert’. English audiences and film buffs will possibly recognize the tune readily enough, since it served Balfe so well in The Bohemian Girl
and transferred to the silver screen in the unlikely hands of Laurel and Hardy. Krov wrote the tune as a drinking song, but in no time it became a patriotic Bohemian anthem. Liszt was not alone in believing it to be a Hussite chorale, and wrote his excellent elaboration of it for his first concert tour to Prague in 1840, where it won all hearts. Liszt begins with what he terms a ‘Version littérale’, which in the first edition is printed in small text and may apparently be omitted. But it makes a fine introduction to the fantasy proper, and is included here.
from notes by Leslie Howard © 1994