Bedrich Smetana

Composition Types

Biography

Born: Mar 2, 1824; Czech Republic   Died: May 12, 1884; Czech Republic   Period: Romantic
Bedrich Smetana was one of the great composers of his country's history and one of the leaders of the movement toward musical nationalism. His father was a violin teacher who gave Bedrich his first lessons and referred him to keyboard, harmony, and composition lessons when the boy requested them. His father tried to get Bedrich to apply himself in academics, but Bedrich was too focused on music to be a good student.

Bedrich Kittl, director Read more of the Prague Conservatory, in 1844 found Smetana a job as a music teacher to the family of Count Leopold Thun while continuing music studies. He remained with the count for three and a half years, but he quit to undertake a concert tour, which turned out to be a financial failure.

Franz Liszt aided Smetana in finding a publisher for some early piano music and in 1848, Smetana founded a successful piano school.

Although he established a strong local reputation as a pianist, his piano compositions (mostly lighter works) did not earn him any special distinction as a composer.

In 1860, the Austro-Hungarian Empire granted internal political autonomy to Bohemia. A movement began to search for a genuine Czech voice in arts, including the establishment of a national theater. In 1862-1863, Smetana composed The Brandenburgers in Bohemia, his first opera, which was a success at its premiere on January 5, 1866. His next opera was Prodaná nevesta (The Bartered Bride), his most famous and enduring opera today, but a failure when it premiered on May 30, 1866.

In 1866, Smetana became conductor of the Provisional Theater, re-forming its administration and attempting to raise standards. His next opera, Dalibor (1871), was criticized for its Wagnerian elements. He had also written Libuse, but could find no producer. But in 1874, he had a large success with a light, popular opera, The Two Widows.

However, a severe whistling in the ears (graphically depicted in his autobiographical string quartet From My Life) led to deafness by the end of that year, symptoms of tertiary syphilis. He continued to compose and wrote his orchestral masterpiece Má Vlast (My Country) from 1874 to 1879. Three more operas were premiered successfully, including Libuse, but the last was The Devil's Wall (1882). By now, Smetana was seriously ill. The brain damage from syphilis led to madness, and he was confined to an asylum where he died. National mourning was proclaimed and he was given a burial at the Vyshehrad, one of the national sites depicted in Má Vlast. Read less

Smetana: Má Vlast / Järvi, Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Release Date: 06/20/1995   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 9366   Number of Discs: 1
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Smetana: Music From The Bartered Bride, Etc / Gianandrea Noseda, Bbc Po
Release Date: 06/30/2009   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 10518   Number of Discs: 1
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Dvorak, Smetana: Piano Trios / Borodin Trio
Release Date: 10/28/1992   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 8445   Number of Discs: 1
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Smetana: The Bartered Bride Overture & Dances, Etc / Simon
Release Date: 10/28/1992   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 8412   Number of Discs: 1
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Janacek: String Quartets No 1 & 2; Smetana: String Quartet No  1 / Jerusalem Quartet
Release Date: 01/14/2014   Label: Harmonia Mundi  
Catalog: 902178   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Dance of the Comedians

Browse 51-56 of 56 Available Recordings
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  • 51.
    1992 Midwest Clinic - The United States Navy Band
    Label: Mark Records   Catalog: 7488 Release Date: 01/01/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Andrzej Panufnik,  Bedrich Smetana,  Karl King,  George Gershwin  ... 
    Conductor:  William J. Phillips
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  United States Navy Band
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  • 52.
    Slavonic Festival / Kosler, Pesek, Stankovsky, Wordsworth
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8550376 Release Date: 12/28/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bedrich Smetana,  Leos Janácek,  Antonín Dvorák
    Conductor:  Barry Wordsworth,  Libor Pesek,  Zdenek Kosler,  Robert Stankovsky
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra,  Czecho-Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 53.
    Smetana: The Bartered Bride Overture & Dances, Etc / Simon
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 8412 Release Date: 10/28/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bedrich Smetana
    Conductor:  Geoffrey Simon
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 54.
    The Telarc Collection Vol 3
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 89103 Release Date: 06/30/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Thelonious Monk,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Mark Fisher,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Charlie Sepulveda,  Wynton Marsalis,  Dizzy Gillespie,  Paul Katz  ... 
    Conductor:  David Zinman,  Sir Charles Mackerras,  Erich Kunzel,  Jesús Lopez-Cobos  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland String Quartet,  Baltimore Symphony Orchestra,  Prague Chamber Orchestra  ... 
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  • 55.
    Class Brass / Empire Brass
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80220 Release Date: 11/21/1989   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sergei Prokofiev,  Maurice Ravel,  Gabriel Fauré,  Alberto Ginastera  ... 
    Performer:  Sam Pilafian,  Rolf Smedvig,  Scott Hartman,  Jeffrey Curnow  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Empire Brass
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  • 56.
    Smetana: Moldau, Vysehrad, Etc / Levine, Vienna Po
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 427340 Release Date: 05/23/1989   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bedrich Smetana
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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