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Born: 1824, Litomysl, BohemiaDied: 1884, Prague

"According to my merits, and according to my efforts, I am a Czech composer..."

Smetana is regarded as the founding father of Czech music. His early efforts to carve out a career as a piano virtuoso or to secure a post abroad did not meet with success, so he returned to Prague. There, he focused on promoting his music, teaching, and learning to speak Czech, which had been suppressed in favor of German in Bohemia. His appointment as conductor at the city's Czech theater (known as the Provisional Theater) marked his real breakthrough, and he devoted the rest of his life to composing the operas and symphonic works that have guaranteed his immortality. He was slowed by the onset of deafness in 1874 and felled by mental illness a decade later, both tragic complications of syphilis.

Further listening:

The Bartered Bride (opera, 1863-70)Benacková, Dvorsky, Novák, Czech Philharmonic, Kosler (Supraphon)