Smetana, Bedrich

Smetana, Bedrich

biographical name

(born March 2, 1824, Leitomischl, Bohemia, Austrian Empire—died May 12, 1884, Prague) Czech (Bohemian) composer. He was determined to become a pianist, but his first concert (1847) ended his hopes, and he thereafter taught music, opening two schools of music. In the 1860s he turned to opera, becoming conductor of the national theatre in 1866. His second opera was The Bartered Bride (1866), which gained lasting success after many revisions. Dalibor (1868) followed and also became popular; he would complete five more operas. Though rendered deaf by syphilis in 1874, in his last decade he wrote some of his most beloved music, including the cycle My Country (1874–79), which included the famous symphonic poem The Moldau, and the quartet From My Life (1876). He became insane in 1883 and died in an asylum. The strongly Czech character of his music made Smetana the preeminent Czech nationalist composer.

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