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Bedrich Smétana

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Biography

Bohemian composer and pianist, was born at Leitomischl in Bohemia on the 2nd of March 1824. He made such rapid progress in his studies under Ikavec, at Neuhaus, that at the age of six he appeared in public as pianist so successfully that his father’s opposition to a musicians career was overcome. He then went to Proksch, at Prague, until he left for Leipzig to make the acquaintance of Robert Schumann and Felix Mendelssohn. Limited means prevented him from studying with the latter, and he returned to Prague, where he at once became Konzert-meister to the Emperor Ferdinand.

In 1848 he married Katharina Kolar, pianist, and with her founded a music school at Prague. At the same time he met Franz Liszt, who subsequently influenced him greatly, and with whom he afterwards stayed at Weimar. In 1856 Smetan accepted Alexander Dreyschock’s suggestion to go as conductor of the Philharmonic Society at Gothenburg. There he remained five years, when, owing to his wife’s ill-health, he returned to Prague after a successful concert tour. The death of his wife at Dresden on their return caused Smetana to change his mind, and he went back to Sweden. But the opening of the Interims Theater in 1866, and the offer of its conductorship, induced his return. In Sweden he had already written Hakon Jarl, Richard III, and Wallenstein’s Lager, and had completed his opera Die Brandenburger in Böhmen (5th January 1866). Five months later it was followed by his best-known opera, Die verkaufte Braut, and in 1868 Dalibor was given.

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