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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Smetana: Orchestral Works Vol 1 / Noseda, BBC PO
Release Date: 10/23/2007   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 10413   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: The Moldau

Browse 126-134 of 134 Available Recordings
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  • 126.
    101 Great Orchestral Classics Vol 9
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 551149 Release Date: 02/15/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Max Bruch,  Antonín Dvorák,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Takako Nishizaki,  Stefan Vladar
    Conductor:  Zdenek Kosler,  Stephen Gunzenhauser,  Jaroslav Krcek,  Barry Wordsworth  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra,  Capella Istropolitana,  Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 127.
    Karajan Gold - Dvorák: Symphonie No 9 / Vienna Po
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 439009 Release Date: 10/12/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bedrich Smetana,  Antonín Dvorák
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 128.
    Music Of The World - Scandinavia & Eastern Europe - Forests
    Label: Imp Discover The Classics   Catalog: 24 Release Date: 10/01/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Edvard Grieg,  Jean Sibelius,  Johan Svendsen,  Antonín Dvorák  ... 
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  • 129.
    Classics For All Seasons - Autumn
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80327 Release Date: 08/24/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  César Franck,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Bedrich Smetana  ... 
    Performer:  John Korman,  Beverly Schiebler,  John Sant'Ambrogio,  Thomas Dumm  ... 
    Conductor:  Erich Kunzel,  Jesús Lopez-Cobos,  Leonard Slatkin,  Zdenek Macal  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cincinnati Pops,  Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra,  St. Louis Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 130.
    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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  • 131.
    Mendelssohn: A Midsummer Night's Dream / Szell, Stokowski
    Label: Sony Classical Essential Classics   Catalog: 48264 Release Date: 11/17/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn,  Georges Bizet,  Bedrich Smetana
    Conductor:  George Szell,  Leopold Stokowski
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra,  National Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 132.
    The Moldau, From Bohemian Fields And Groves, Etc / Kubelik
    Label: Dg Musikfest   Catalog: 413251 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonín Dvorák,  Bedrich Smetana
    Conductor:  Rafael Kubelik
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Orchestra
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  • 133.
    Smetana: Má Vlast / Kubelik, Boston Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Dg Galleria   Catalog: 429183 Release Date: 02/13/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bedrich Smetana
    Conductor:  Rafael Kubelik
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
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  • 134.
    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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