Bedřich Smetana

Bedřich Smetana

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Bedřich Smetana
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Bedřich Smetana (pronounced [ˈbɛdr̝ɪx ˈsmɛtana]; 2 March 1824 - 12 May 1884) was a Czech composer. He is best known for his symphonic poem Vltava (better known as The Moldau), the second in a cycle of six which he entitled Má vlast (My Country), and for his opera Prodaná nevěsta (The Bartered Bride).

Smetana was the son of a brewer in Litomyšl in Bohemia, then part of the Austrian Empire. He studied piano and violin from an early age, and played in an amateur string quartet with other members of his family. Smetana attended a high school in Pilsen from 1840-1843. He studied music in Prague, despite initial resistance from his father. He secured a post as music master to a noble family, and in 1848 received funds from Franz Liszt to establish his own music school.

September 1855 marked the death of his second child, his beloved four-year-old daughter Bedřiška. 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.

In 1856, Smetana moved to Gothenburg, Sweden, where he taught, conducted and gave chamber music recitals. In 1863, back in Prague, he opened a new school of music dedicated to promoting specifically Czech music. By 1874 he had become deaf from syphilis, but he continued to compose; Má vlast was written after his deafness had developed. Smetana also suffered from tinnitus, which caused him to hear a continuous, maddening high note which he described as the "shrill whistle of a first inversion chord of A-flat in the highest register of the piccolo."

From 1875 he lived in small village of Jabkenice.

His string quartet in E minor, Z mého života (From My Life, composed in 1876), the first of only two quartets, is an autobiographical work. The final movement is punctuated by a piercing high E in the first violin which, Smetana explained, represents the devastating effects of his tinnitus. He may also be hinting at this personal misfortune with the piccolo scoring in Má vlast. In 1883 Smetana, due to further progressive neurological effects of his illness, became insane, and was taken to a mental hospital in Prague, where he died the following year. He is interred in the Vyšehrad cemetery in Prague.

Smetana was the first composer to write music that was specifically Czech in character. Many of his operas are based on Czech themes and myths, the best known being the comedy The Bartered Bride (1866). He used many Czech dance rhythms and his melodies sometimes resemble folk songs. He was a great influence on Antonín Dvořák, who similarly used Czech themes in his works.
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Bedřich Smetana Discography

Albums

AN 386-95 Bedřich Smetana | Česká Filharmonie*, Václav Talich Bedřich Smetana | Česká Filharmonie*, Václav Talich - Má Vlast(10xShellac, 12", Album) His Master's Voice AN 386-95 Czechoslovakia 1929 Sell This Version
AN 801-815 Bedřich Smetana, Sbor Národního Divadla, Orchestr Národního Divadla Bedřich Smetana, Sbor Národního Divadla, Orchestr Národního Divadla - Prodaná Nevěsta(15xShellac, 12", Album) Hlas Jeho Pána AN 801-815 Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia 1940 Sell This Version
DB 5312-21 Bedřich Smetana / Česká Filharmonie*, Václav Talich Bedřich Smetana / Česká Filharmonie*, Václav Talich - Má Vlast (Album) Hlas Jeho Pána DB 5312-21 Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia 1941 Sell This Version
M 5062-71 Bedřich Smetana Má Vlast(10xShellac, 12", Album) Esta M 5062-71 Czechoslovakia 1947 Sell This Version
ML 2075 Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra of New York*, Smetana*, Brahms* Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra of New York*, Smetana*, Brahms* - Vltava ("The Moldau") / Academic Festival Overture, Opus 80(10") Columbia Masterworks ML 2075 US 1949 Sell This Version
LM 1, LM-1 Smetana*, Dvořák* - Arthur Fiedler, Boston Pops Orchestra* Smetana*, Dvořák* - Arthur Fiedler, Boston Pops Orchestra* - The Moldau, Husitská Overture(10", Album, Mono) RCA Victor Red Seal, RCA Victor Red Seal LM 1, LM-1 US 1950 Sell This Version
ML 2095 Smetana*, The Cleveland Orchestra, George Szell Smetana*, The Cleveland Orchestra, George Szell - From My Life(10", Mono) Columbia Masterworks ML 2095 US 1950 Sell This Version
LPM 74, DM 5032 Bedřich Smetana - Smetana Quartet, Jiří Novák (2), Lubomír Kostecký, Jaroslav Rybenský, Antonín Kohout Bedřich Smetana - Smetana Quartet, Jiří Novák (2), Lubomír Kostecký, Jaroslav Rybenský, Antonín Kohout - Second String Quartet In D Minor(10", Mono) Supraphon, Supraphon LPM 74, DM 5032 Czechoslovakia 1950 Sell This Version
A-1004 Smetana* - The New York Philharmonic Orchestra Smetana* - The New York Philharmonic Orchestra - From The Symphonic Cycle "My Country"(3x7", Album + Box) Columbia Masterworks A-1004 US 1951 Sell This Version
DL 4012 Enesco* / Smetana*, The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra*, Alfred Wallenstein Enesco* / Smetana*, The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra*, Alfred Wallenstein - Roumanian Rhapsdy No. 1 (In A Major, Op.11) / The Moldau(10") Decca DL 4012 US 1952 Sell This Version
P10-22 Beethoven* / Smetana* Beethoven* / Smetana* - "Egmont" Overture / The Moldau(10", Mono) Plymouth P10-22 US 1952 Sell This Version
LPE 17018 Friedrich Smetana* - Berliner Philharmoniker / Ferenc Fricsay Friedrich Smetana* - Berliner Philharmoniker / Ferenc Fricsay - Die Moldau, Aus Böhmens Hain Und Flur, Sinfonische Dichtungen(10", Mono) Deutsche Grammophon LPE 17018 Germany 1953 Sell This Version
LM 9017 Smetana* / Dvorak* / Brahms* - Arthur Fiedler, The Boston Pops Orchestra Smetana* / Dvorak* / Brahms* - Arthur Fiedler, The Boston Pops Orchestra - –—–—–—–—–—–—The Moldau / Husitska Overture / Hungarian Dances(LP, Album) RCA Red Seal LM 9017 US 1953 Sell This Version
DV 5132, DV 5133, DV 5134 Bedřich Smetana Hubička(3xLP) Supraphon, Supraphon, Supraphon DV 5132, DV 5133, DV 5134 Czechoslovakia 1953 Sell This Version
DV 5225, DV 5226 Bedřich Smetana | Česká Filharmonie*, Václav Talich Bedřich Smetana | Česká Filharmonie*, Václav Talich - Má Vlast - Cyklus Symfonických Básní (Album) Supraphon, Supraphon DV 5225, DV 5226 Czechoslovakia 1954 Sell This Version
LM 1118, LM-1118 Smetana* / Saint-Saëns* / Dukas* - Toscanini* And NBC Symphony Orchestra, The* Smetana* / Saint-Saëns* / Dukas* - Toscanini* And NBC Symphony Orchestra, The* - Toscanini Conducts The Moldau, Danse Macabre And The Sorcerer's Apprentice RCA Victor Red Seal, RCA Victor Red Seal LM 1118, LM-1118 US 1954 Sell This Version
ML 4785 Antonín Dvořák, Bedřich Smetana, George Szell Antonín Dvořák, Bedřich Smetana, George Szell - Smetana The Moldau | Dvorak Slavonic Dances(LP, Mono) Columbia Masterworks ML 4785 US 1954 Sell This Version
MG 50042 Smetana* / Mozart*, Rafael Kubelik Conducting The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Smetana* / Mozart*, Rafael Kubelik Conducting The Chicago Symphony Orchestra - Vysehrad "The High Castle" / Vltava "The Moldau" / Symphony No. 38 In D (K. 504) "Prague"(LP, Album) Mercury MG 50042 US 1955 Sell This Version
SC 6020 Bedřich Smetana The Bartered Bride (Prodaná nevěsta)(3xLP, Mono) Epic SC 6020 US 1956 Sell This Version
T 24 Schubert*, Smetana*, Hans Swarowsky, The Vienna Festival Orchestra* Schubert*, Smetana*, Hans Swarowsky, The Vienna Festival Orchestra* - Incidental Music To "Rosamunde" - The Moldau - Overture To "The Bartered Bride" (Album) World Record Club T 24 UK 1958 Sell This Version
BR 3105, BR.3105 Smetana* - Kubelik*, Vienna Philharmonic* Smetana* - Kubelik*, Vienna Philharmonic* - Má Vlast Excerpts(LP, Mono) Decca, Decca BR 3105, BR.3105 UK 1958 Sell This Version
LPEM 19 125 Bedřich Smetana, Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka, Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov Bedřich Smetana, Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka, Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov - Polkas Für Orchester, Valse-Fantasie, Kaukasische Skizzen(LP, Mono) Deutsche Grammophon LPEM 19 125 Germany 1958 Sell This Version
ALP 1591 Richard Strauss, Smetana* - André Cluytens, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra* Richard Strauss, Smetana* - André Cluytens, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra* - Don Juan / Feuersnot Love Scene / The Moldau / From Bohemia's Meadows And Forests(LP, Mono) His Master's Voice ALP 1591 UK 1958 Sell This Version
U120 Tchaikovsky*, Mendelssohn*, Smetana* Tchaikovsky*, Mendelssohn*, Smetana* - Basic Library Of The World's Greatest Music - Album No. 20(LP + Box) Standard Reference Works Publishing Company U120 US 1958 Sell This Version
A 00788 R Smetana*, Tschaikowsky*, Paul van Kempen, Het Concertgebouw Orkest Amsterdam* Smetana*, Tschaikowsky*, Paul van Kempen, Het Concertgebouw Orkest Amsterdam* - Look, Listen And Learn(10", Mono + Box) Philips A 00788 R Netherlands 1958 Sell This Version