Wikipedia:Today's featured article/July 24, 2010

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Photograph of Bedřich Smetana

Bedřich Smetana (1824–1884) was a Czech composer who pioneered the development of a musical style which became closely identified with his country's aspirations to independent statehood. Internationally he is known for his opera The Bartered Bride, and for the symphonic cycle Má vlast ("My Fatherland") which portrays the history, legends and landscape of the composer's native land. A gifted pianist, Smetana studied music under Josef Proksch in Prague. In 1866 his first two operas, The Brandenburgers in Bohemia and The Bartered Bride, were premiered at Prague's Provisional Theatre, the latter achieving great popularity. Factions within the city's musical establishment interfered with his creative work, and may have hastened his health breakdown. By 1874, Smetana had become completely deaf but, freed from his theatre duties and the related controversies, he began a period of sustained composition. His contributions to Czech music were increasingly recognised and honoured, but a mental collapse in 1884 led to his incarceration in an asylum, and his subsequent death. Smetana's reputation as the father of Czech music has endured in his homeland, where advocates have raised his status above that of his contemporaries and successors. (more...)

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