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