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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Albums

AN 386-95 Má Vlast — Bedřich Smetana Bedřich Smetana | Česká Filharmonie*, Václav Talich Bedřich Smetana | Česká Filharmonie*, Václav Talich - Má Vlast (Album) His Master's Voice AN 386-95 Czechoslovakia 1929 Sell This Version
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M-405, M 405 Quartet No. 1 In E Minor ( Curtis String Quartet* - Smetana* Curtis String Quartet* - Smetana* - Quartet No. 1 In E Minor ("From My Life") (Album) Columbia Masterworks, Columbia Masterworks M-405, M 405 US 1940 Sell This Version
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MX-211 Vltava (The Moldau) — Bedřich Smetana Bruno Walter Conducting The Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra Of New York* - Smetana* Bruno Walter Conducting The Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra Of New York* - Smetana* - Vltava (The Moldau) (Album) Columbia Masterworks MX-211 US 1940 Sell This Version
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AN 801-815 Prodaná Nevěsta — Bedřich Smetana 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
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M 5062-71 Má Vlast — Bedřich Smetana Bedřich Smetana Má Vlast (Album) Esta M 5062-71 Czechoslovakia 1947 Sell This Version
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RLP-149-10 Carmen Suite / Die Moldau — Bedřich Smetana Bizet*, Smetana*, The Symphonic Orchestra of The Viennese Symphonic Society*, George Singer Bizet*, Smetana*, The Symphonic Orchestra of The Viennese Symphonic Society*, George Singer - Carmen Suite / Die Moldau (Album) Remington RLP-149-10 US 1950 Sell This Version
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LM 1, LM-1 The Moldau, Husitská Overture — Bedřich Smetana Smetana*, Dvořák* - Arthur Fiedler, Boston Pops Orchestra* Smetana*, Dvořák* - Arthur Fiedler, Boston Pops Orchestra* - The Moldau, Husitská Overture (Album) RCA Victor Red Seal, RCA Victor Red Seal LM 1, LM-1 US 1950 Sell This Version
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LPM 74, DM 5032 Second String Quartet In D Minor — Bedřich Smetana 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 Supraphon, Supraphon LPM 74, DM 5032 Czechoslovakia 1950 Sell This Version
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WL 5011 Fantasy For Violin And Orchestra Op. 24 / Wallenstein's Camp Symphonic Poem Op. 14 — Bedřich Smetana Josef Suk (2), Vienna Symphony Orchestra*, Peter Rybar, Henry Swoboda, Bedřich Smetana Josef Suk (2), Vienna Symphony Orchestra*, Peter Rybar, Henry Swoboda, Bedřich Smetana - Fantasy For Violin And Orchestra Op. 24 / Wallenstein's Camp Symphonic Poem Op. 14(LP, Album, Ste) Westminster WL 5011 US 1950 Sell This Version
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THS56164/65 Smetana: The Bartered Bride — Bedřich Smetana Bedřich Smetana - Kurt Böhme, Rita Streich, Traute Richter, Chorus* & Orchestra of Berlin Civic Opera* Conductor Hans Lenzer Bedřich Smetana - Kurt Böhme, Rita Streich, Traute Richter, Chorus* & Orchestra of Berlin Civic Opera* Conductor Hans Lenzer - Smetana: The Bartered Bride(2xLP, Album + Box) VOX/Turnabout THS56164/65 US 1950 Sell This Version
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ML 2095 From My Life — Bedřich Smetana 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
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URLP 210 The Bartered Bride — Bedřich Smetana Bedřich Smetana - Traute Richter, Sebastian Hauser, Ralph Peters, Kurt Böhme, Hans Lenzer Conducting Chorus* And Orchestra Of Berlin Civic Opera* Bedřich Smetana - Traute Richter, Sebastian Hauser, Ralph Peters, Kurt Böhme, Hans Lenzer Conducting Chorus* And Orchestra Of Berlin Civic Opera* - The Bartered Bride (Album) Urania Records (3) URLP 210 US 1951 Sell This Version
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ML 2177 Moldau / From Bohemia's Meadows And Forests — Bedřich Smetana Smetana*, George Szell, New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra* Smetana*, George Szell, New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra* - Moldau / From Bohemia's Meadows And Forests Columbia, Columbia ML 2177 US 1951 Sell This Version
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ML 2075 Vltava ( 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 1951 Sell This Version
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DL 4012 Roumanian Rhapsdy No. 1 (In A Major, Op.11) / The Moldau — Bedřich Smetana Enesco* / Smetana*, The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra* , Conductor: Alfred Wallenstein Enesco* / Smetana*, The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra* , Conductor: Alfred Wallenstein - Roumanian Rhapsdy No. 1 (In A Major, Op.11) / The Moldau (Album) Decca DL 4012 Canada 1952 Sell This Version
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P10-22 Beethoven* / Smetana* Beethoven* / Smetana* - "Egmont" Overture / The Moldau Merit P10-22 US 1952 Sell This Version
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DL 9637 String Quartets — Bedřich Smetana Smetana*, Dvorak*, The Koeckert Quartet* Smetana*, Dvorak*, The Koeckert Quartet* - String Quartets (Album) Decca DL 9637 US 1952 Sell This Version
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1311 Smetana: Die Moldau/Hindemith: Der Schwanendreher — Bedřich Smetana Bedřich Smetana, Paul Hindemith, Karl List, Berlin Symphony Orchestra* Bedřich Smetana, Paul Hindemith, Karl List, Berlin Symphony Orchestra* - Smetana: Die Moldau/Hindemith: Der Schwanendreher(LP, Album, Mono) Royale 1311 US 1952 Sell This Version
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DV 5093, DV 5143, DV 5095 Tajemství — Bedřich Smetana Bedřich Smetana, Národní Divadlo V Praze* , Řídí: Jaroslav Krombholc Bedřich Smetana, Národní Divadlo V Praze* , Řídí: Jaroslav Krombholc - Tajemství(3xLP, Album) Supraphon, Supraphon, Supraphon DV 5093, DV 5143, DV 5095 Czechoslovakia 1952 Sell This Version
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WL 5199 Quartet In E Minor ( Smetana*, Dvorak* - Curtis String Quartet* Smetana*, Dvorak* - Curtis String Quartet* - Quartet In E Minor ("From My Life") / Quartet No. 6 In F Major, Op. 96 ("American") (Album) Westminster WL 5199 US 1953 Sell This Version
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OL-2-100 My Fatherland Smetana*, Rafael Kubelik, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Smetana*, Rafael Kubelik, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra - My Fatherland "Má Vlast" Symphonic Cycle (Album) Mercury, Mercury Classics (3) OL-2-100 US 1953 Sell This Version
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ALP 1049, ALP.1049 A Midsummer Night's Dream / The Bartered Bride — Bedřich Smetana Mendelssohn*Smetana*Rafael KubelikPhilharmonia Orchestra Mendelssohn*Smetana*Rafael KubelikPhilharmonia Orchestra - A Midsummer Night's Dream / The Bartered Bride His Master's Voice, His Master's Voice ALP 1049, ALP.1049 UK 1953 Sell This Version
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DV 5132, DV 5133, DV 5134 Hubička — Bedřich Smetana Bedřich Smetana Hubička (Album) Supraphon, Supraphon, Supraphon DV 5132, DV 5133, DV 5134 Czechoslovakia 1953 Sell This Version
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LM 9017 The Moldau / Husitska Overture / Hungarian Dances — Bedřich Smetana 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
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DM 5399 Smyčcový Kvartet C. 1 E-moll ˶Z Mého Života Bedřich Smetana, Smetana Quartet Bedřich Smetana, Smetana Quartet - Smyčcový Kvartet C. 1 E-moll ˶Z Mého Života"(10", Album) Supraphon DM 5399 Czechoslovakia 1953 Sell This Version