One of the Oscar nominated films was "the Two Popes" in several categories. We just started to watch it today. It has a fragment with pope Francis and pope Benedict - Benedict playing Smetana's music and Francis remembering some scenes from their early live.
Bedrich Smetana is considered a father of Czech's national music, but he is also a tragic character - he was criticized during his life, depraved of his position and became deaf at age 50. Later he became insane just before he died and he was actually aware of it - due to syphilis. He also lost his wife and two daughters to the tuberculosis.
Very Czech, melancholic and beautiful music. The music in your video sounds very Central-European, Bohemian and
Bedřich Smetana's Vltava, also known by its English title The Moldau, and the German Die Moldau, was composed between 20 November and 8 December 1874 and was premiered on 4 April 1875 under conductor Adolf Čech. It was part of Má vlast (Czech pronunciation: [maː vlast], meaning "My homeland" in Czech language) a set of six symphonic poems composed between 1874 and 1879 by Bedřich Smetana.
Encylopedia Britannica writes about the Czech composer: "Bedřich Smetana, (born March 2, 1824, Leitomischl, Bohemia, Austrian Empire [now Litomyšl, Czech Republic]—died May 12, 1884, Prague), Bohemian composer of operas and symphonic poems, founder of the Czech national school of music. He was the first truly important Bohemian nationalist composer.
Smetana studied music under his father, an amateur violinist. He early took up piano under a professional teacher and performed in public at the age of six. He continued his studies and later became music teacher to the family of Leopold, Count von Thun. Encouraged by Franz Liszt he opened a piano school in Prague in 1848 and the next year married the pianist Kateřina Kolářová. In 1856 he wrote his first symphonic poems and in the same year was appointed conductor of the philharmonic society of Gothenburg (Sweden), where he remained until 1861. He then returned to Prague, where he played the leading part in the establishment of the national opera house.
Bedřich Smetana as a young man
Smetana’s first opera, Braniboři v Čechách (The Brandenburgers in Bohemia), was produced in Prague in 1866. This was followed by the production on May 30, 1866, of his second opera, Prodaná nevěsta (The Bartered Bride), which later established Smetana’s reputation as a distinctively Czech composer. His later operas were less successful. Dalibor, written under the influence of Wagner, was performed in 1868. Libuše, named after a legendary figure in the history of Prague and intended to celebrate the projected coronation (which never took place) of the emperor Francis Joseph as king of Bohemia, was not produced until 1881. In 1874 Smetana’s health began to deteriorate as a result of syphilis. Greatly concerned, he resigned his conductorship of the Prague Opera. He became totally deaf in late 1874, but between that year and 1879 he wrote the cycle of six symphonic poems bearing the collective title Má vlast (My Country), which includes Vltava (The Moldau), Z českých luhů a hájů (From Bohemia’s Meadows and Forests), and Vyšehrad (the name of a fortress in Prague). From this period also came the string quartet to which he gave the title Z mého života (From My Life), considered among his finest works; Hubička (The Kiss), successfully produced in 1876; Čertova stěna (The Devil’s Wall), performed in 1882; and a number of piano solos, including many polkas. Smetana had been, from early in life, a virtuoso performer on the piano, and for many years most of his works were composed for it. Those compositions, augmented by the more mature piano pieces of his difficult last years, constitute an important body of piano literature. Following attacks of depression and symptoms of mental instability, Smetana entered an asylum at Prague and died there.
The Smetana Society, founded in Prague in 1931, maintains a museum containing the composer’s manuscripts and sponsors the publication and performance of his works. Smetana’s works, notably The Bartered Bride, My Country, and the piano trio, continue to be performed throughout the world."
Windischgraetz bombards Prague in June 1848 Freedom fight in Bohemia 1848: June Uprising in Prague 1848. – “Windischgraetz bombards Prague in June 1848” (Abatement of the uprising by troops under Windischgraetz). Chalk lithograph, coloured, c. 1848. 33.6 × 45.8 cm. Inv. No. 87.455 Vienna, Wien Museum..
For a brief period in 1848, Smetana was a revolutionary. In the climate of political change and upheaval that swept through Europe in that year, a pro-democracy movement in Prague led by Smetana's old friend Karel Havlíček was urging an end to Habsburg absolutist rule and for more political autonomy. A Citizens' Army ("Svornost") was formed to defend the city against possible attack. Smetana wrote a series of patriotic works, including two marches dedicated respectively to the Czech National Guard and the Students' Legion of the University of Prague, and The Song of Freedom to words by Ján Kollár. In June 1848, as the Habsburg armies moved to suppress rebellious tendencies, Prague came under attack from the Austrian forces led by the Prince of Windisch-Grätz. As a member of Svornost, Smetana helped to man the barricades on the Charles Bridge. The nascent uprising was quickly crushed, but Smetana avoided the imprisonment or exile received by leaders such as Havlíček. During his brief spell with Svornost, he met the writer and leading radical, Karel Sabina, who would later provide libretti for Smetana's first two operas.
Pieter, since I went to Czech Republic last year I wanted to know more about their people.
Czechs are very affected by their difficult history. There are the least religious folks in Europe - more than a half of population is non religious or undeclared, probably due to the religious wars they experienced. I was this skull chapel in Kutna Hora and the number of skulls that were relocated from place to place to finally find a rest there was amazing and a bit scary.
They were also invaded and influenced by other countries, diminished by Sudeten Germans' settlements just the same way Israel takes the Palestinian lands. They were occupied by Soviets. They had to stay tough to survive these difficult times and thrive, since economically they were always doing quite well.