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Bedrich Smetana

Bedrich Smetana (1824-1884), is to be remembered as the creator, or at least the awakener, of Bohemian music.

After a short education at the Prague university Smetana entered diligently upon the study of music, becoming a brilliant pianist, and as such forming one of the circle of enthusiastic and advancing souls surrounding Liszt at Weimar, between 1850 and 1860.

September 1855 marked the death of his second child, his beloved four-year-old daughter Bedriska. When his third child died nine months later, he committed himself to composition, producing the Piano Trio in G minor. This piece is full of sadness and despair, making use of phrases that are cut short, possibly in resemblance to his daughter's own life.

His first position as musical director was at Gothenberg,1856. Here he lost his wife, the brilliant pianist Katharina Kolar. In 1861 he made a long concert tour to Sweden.

In 1866 he was appointed director of the music at the national theater in Prague, a position which he held until obliged to give it up on account of loss of hearing in 1874.

Smetana wrote eight operas upon Bohemian subjects, with music in the Bohemian spirit; one best known is "The Bartered Bride," which was the last composed. He also wrote about ten symphonies or symphonic poems, and a great variety of chamber music. Of his symphonic poems those most often played are: "In Wallenstein's Camp," "Moldau," "Sarka" and "Visegrad." In all these the titles are mainly suggestive, although in "Sarka" a programme is quite closely followed.

Bedrich Smetana was a brilliant composer, but his great value lies in his awakening of the Bohemians to musical creation. He was also great influence on Antonin Dvorak, who similarly used Czech themes in his works. Smetana's work influenced many other Czech composers who came after him, and continues to inspire many musicians today.