Page:The music of Bohemia.djvu/41

This page has been validated.



(1874), The Kiss (1876), The Secret (1878), and The Devil's Wall (1882) represent the highest style of the modern comic operas. Each of these works introduces a charming overture of a pure musical beauty, classical in form. Dalibor (1868), a historical-romantic opera, became a favorite even outside its native land. The story is based upon a Czech folk-legend of the fifteenth century, which tells about a knight, Dalibor, who was a prisoner at the castle in Prague. He begged his jailor for a violin to lighten the heavy hours of his captiv-
ity. After a time, it is said, he played with such marvelous skill that the people came from far and wide to stand outside the prison walls and listen to the charming music. Likewise the libretto to the festival opera Libussa (1881), is drawn from the Czech history. This work marks the climax of Smetana's genius, and a knowledge of it is indispensable to the student of Czech musical art. The overture to this opera is a masterpiece of form and festival mode. It begins with a trumpet call, developed in a