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A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Smetana, Friedrich

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SMETANA, Friedrich, born March 2, 1824, at Leitomischl in Bohemia, between Olmütz and Prague, was a pupil of Proksch at Prague, and afterwards, for a short time, of Liszt, under whose tuition he became a remarkable pianist. He then opened a musical school of his own at Prague and married Katharina Kolàr. In 1856 he took the post of conductor to the Philharmonic Society at Gothenburg in Sweden, where he lost his wife in 1860. In 1866 he became conductor to the National Theatre of Prague. He is eminently a Bohemian composer, and the list of his operas in that language is large—'Married for money'; 'The Brandenburger in Bohemia'; 'Dalibor'; 'Two widows'; 'The Kiss.' Also a symphonic poem, entitled 'Mein Vaterland,' in 3 sections 'Vysehrad' (the Visegrad fortress), 'Vltava' (the Moldau), and 'Libussa.' The first two of these, very picturesque and striking pieces, were performed at the Crystal Palace on Nov. 11, 1882, and March 5, 1881, respectively. Smetana has also published a quartet, many dances, and other pianoforte pieces, etc. In 1874 he was compelled to give up the National Opera-house on account of his deafness, which has since in-creased so far as to deprive him of all power of hearing. But he still composes. One of his claims to notice is that he was the teacher of Dvorshák.

A medallion with an inscription in his honour was recently affixed to the house in which Smetana was born, on which occasion there were great festivities, and he was presented with the freedom of the town.

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