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Bedřich Smetana (pron. BED-rrhihch SMEH-tha-nah) (born March 2, 1824, Lytomyšl, Bohemia and died May 12, 1884, Prague) is an outstanding Czech (Bohemian) composer. He was determined to become a pianist, but his first concert (1847) ended his hopes, and he thereafter taught music, opening two schools of music. In the 1860’s he turned to opera, becoming conductor of the national theatre in 1866 in Prague. His second opera was The Bartered Bride (1866), which gained lasting success after many revisions. Dalibor (1868) followed and also became popular. He would complete five more operas. Though rendered deaf by syphilis in 1874, in his last decade he wrote some of his most beloved music, including the cycle My Country (1874-79), which included the famous symphonic poem “The Moldau,” and the quartet From My Life (1876). He became insane in 1883 and died in an asylum. The strongly Czech character of his music made Smetana the preeminent Czech nationalist composer of his time.

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