Bedřich Smetana

Czech composer (Litomyšl, 1824 - Prague, 1884)

Bedřich Smetana is considered at the father of Czech music for his contribution to the renewal of Bohemian culture, borrowing for his compositions patterns and melodies in the Czech folklore.

Since infancy, Smetana showed a great virtuosity playing the piano and the violin. He composed his first pieces at the age of 8. Afterwards, he studied music in Prague and became a music master at the count Leopold Thun's house. There, he met Liszt, Schumann and Berlioz. Thanks to the financial support of Liszt, he published his first pieces and founded a music school. He was a teacher, played chamber music and was a conductor in Sweden. Over there, he conducted the creation of his three symphonic poems in 1858, 1859 and 1861. He founded a second music school in Prague in order to promote Czech music, and therefore took part in the Czech nationalist movements. He was appointed orchestra conductor of the Prague State Opera. Antonín Dvořák was one of the musicians of the formation and the two artists became friends. He died in 1884, after having suffered of deafness for many years.

Each year, his cycle composed of six symphonic poems Má Vlast opens the classical music festival, Prague Spring International Music Festival, that starts on the 12th of May, anniversary of Smetana's death.  

Six landmark dates in the life of Bedřich Smetana
1844: music master at the Count Leopold Thun's house
1848: publishing of his first pieces and foundation of a music school
1849: married Kateřina Kolářová
1856: teacher and orchestra conductor in Sweden
1863: foundation of his second music school in Prague
1866: conductor of the Prague State Opera's orchestra where he meets Antonín Dvořák

Six key pieces by Bedřich Smetana
1848: 6 Character pieces, pieces for piano

1879: Má Vlast (My Homeland), cycle of 6 symphonic poems including Vltava  (Die Moldau). In it, he tells the story of his country, the Bohemia

1862: The Brandenburgers in Bohemia, first opera written in Czech  

1863-1866: The Bartered Bride, opéra-comique in three acts, true national anthem of Bohemia

1872: Libuše, opera

1875: Dreams, cycle of six pieces for piano