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SMETANA, Bedrich
b Litomysl, Bohemia, 2 March 1824
d Prague, 12 May 1884, aged sixty

The son of a keen amateur musician, at the age of five he played first violin in a Haydn quartet and gave a public piano recital when he was six. He studied composition and theory in Prague, and was appointed resident piano teacher to the family of Count Leopold Thun. During that time he met Berlioz and the Schumanns. In 1847, unable to establish himself as a piano virtuoso, he decided to open his own music school; he wrote to Liszt for advice and a loan, but Liszt sent only advice. The school opened in 1848, and in that year political upheavals sparked off his nationalistic fervour. For the next eight years he made little progress; his wife showed symptoms of tuberculosis and in 1855 three of his four daughters died. He moved to Goteborg in Sweden, where he found immediate success as a conductor, pianist and teacher. His wife died in 1859 and he married again in 1860. The political situation in Prague suddenly changed for the better, so he returned there in 1861. Despite further political unrest and official hostility, and the deafness that overtook him in 1874, he continued writing. He died of syphilis.

1848-9 (24-5)

Festive Overture, in D major

1853-4 (29-30)

Festive Symphony, in E major

1855 (31)

Piano Trio in G minor

1858 (34)

Richard III, symphonic poem

Wallenstein's Camp, symphonic poem (1858-9)

1860-1 (36-7)

Haakon Jarl, symphonic poem

1862 (38)

On the Sea-shore, for piano

1863 (39)

The Brandenburgers in Bohemia, opera

1866 (42)

The Bartered Bride, opera

1868 (44)

fp Dalibor, opera

Solemn Prelude in C major for orchestra

1874 (50)

The Two Widows, opera

Ma Vlast, six symphonic poems: Vysehrad (The High Castle) Vltava Sarka From Bohemia's Woods and Fields Tabor Blanik

1876 (52)

The Kiss, opera

String Quartet No 1, From My Life, in E minor

1878 (54)

The Secret, opera

Czech Dances

1881 (57)

fp Libuse, opera

1882 (58)

String Quartet No 2 in D minor

1883 (59)

The Prague Carnival

String Quartet No 3

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