A CHRONOLOGICAL VIEW OF WESTERN MUSIC HISTORY IN THE CONTEXT OF WORLD EVENTS

Bedrich Smetana

Birth icon
March 2, 1824: 10:00 Shrove Tuesday. Bedrich Smetana is born in the brewery of Litomysl Chateau in Litomysl, Kingdom of Bohemia, 137 km east of Prague, son of Frantisek Smetana, a cooper, barrel binder, and master brewer in service to several noblemen, and Barbora Lynkova, daughter of a coachman. The child is the third of his mother’s ten children and the eleventh of his father’s eighteen children.
Performance icon
October 4, 1830: Bedrich Smetana (6) appears in public for the first time, at the local school in Litomysl, Bohemia. It is a concert honoring the name day of the Austrian emperor. He plays a piano arrangement of the overture to Auber’s (48) La muette de Portici.
Event icon
October 3, 1843: Bedrich Smetana (19) arrives in Prague, his parents having allowed him to pursue a musical career.
Event icon
January 18, 1844: Bedrich Smetana (19) is appointed the resident piano teacher to the family of Count Leopold Thun in Prague.
Event icon
June 1, 1847: Bedrich Smetana (23) leaves the service of Count Leopold Thun and sets out on a piano playing tour of western Bohemia.
Performance icon
August 7, 1847: Bedrich Smetana’s (23) first concert on his tour of western Bohemia, at Cheb, is so poorly attended that he abandons the project.
Event icon
January 28, 1848: Bedrich Smetana (23) applies to the authorities to establish a private music institute in Prague.
Event icon
March 23, 1848: Bedrich Smetana (24) writes to Franz Liszt (36) pleading poverty, sketching his ideas for a music institute in Prague, asking Liszt to accept the dedication of his opus 1 (6 characteristic pieces), asking Liszt to find a publisher for it, and requesting a loan of 400 gulden.
Event icon
March 30, 1848: Franz Liszt (36) writes to Bedrich Smetana (24) acknowledging his dedication of opus 1, promising to recommend Smetana’s op.1 for publication, and expressing a desire to meet him, all of which he will do.
Event icon
May 18, 1848: Bedrich Smetana (24) receives official permission to establish his music institute in Prague.
Event icon
June 12, 1848: A demonstration by an unarmed crowd in Wenceslas Square, Prague is attacked by Austrian troops under Prince Windischgrätz, precipitating barricades and a demand for the withdrawal of the troops. Bedrich Smetana (24) joins the Svornost Corps and mans the barricades.
Event icon
August 8, 1848: Bedrich Smetana (24) opens a music institute in Prague.
Event icon
August 27, 1849: Bedrich Smetana (25) marries his childhood sweetheart, Katerina Kolárová, daughter of a tax commissioner, at the Church of St. Stephen, Prague.
Performance icon
February 26, 1855: Bedrich Smetana (30) conducts his Triumphal Symphony in its premiere at Konvikt Hall. It is Smetana’s first appearance in Prague as conductor and pianist.
Performance icon
December 3, 1855: Trio for piano and strings by Bedrich Smetana (31) is performed for the first time, in Konvikt Hall, Prague.
Event icon
October 16, 1856: Bedrich Smetana (32) arrives in Göteborg, Sweden in hopes of employment as a piano teacher.
Performance icon
October 23, 1856: Bedrich Smetana (32) gives a piano recital in Göteborg at Blom Assembly Room and is recognized as a piano virtuoso.
Event icon
December 1, 1856: Bedrich Smetana (32) opens a music school in Göteborg and attracts more students than he can enroll.
Performance icon
March 16, 1857: Bedrich Smetana (33) conducts his first performance as director of the Harmonic Society in Göteborg.
Event icon
May 24, 1857: Bedrich Smetana (33) arrives in Prague from Sweden, his wife and child seriously ill.
Event icon
September 17, 1857: Bedrich Smetana (33) arrives in Sweden from Prague.
Event icon
April 9, 1858: Bedrich Smetana (34) and his family leave Sweden for Prague because of his wife’s ill health.
Death icon
April 19, 1859: Katerina Smetana, wife of the composer Bedrich Smetana (35), dies in Dresden, on their way to Prague.
Event icon
September 22, 1859: After the death of his wife, Bedrich Smetana (35) arrives back in Göteborg from Prague.
Performance icon
April 24, 1860: Bedrich Smetana’s (36) symphonic poem Richard III is performed for the first time, in Göteborg in an arrangement for four pianos. See 5 January 1862.
Event icon
July 10, 1860: Bedrich Smetana (36) marries his second wife, Bettina Ferdinandova, the sister of his brother’s wife, in Obríství, just north of Prague.
Event icon
October 1, 1860: Bedrich Smetana (36) reopens his music institute in Göteborg.
Event icon
April 3, 1861: Today is the effective date of Bedrich Smetana’s (37) resignation as conductor of the Choral and Harmonic Societies in Göteborg.
Performance icon
April 10, 1861: Bedrich Smetana (37) debuts before King Carl XV of Sweden at the Stockholm Court Theatre.
Event icon
May 11, 1861: Bedrich Smetana (37) departs Göteborg to return and settle in Prague.
Event icon
May 19, 1861: Bedrich Smetana (37) and his wife arrive in Prague from Sweden.
Performance icon
January 5, 1862: Bedrich Smetana’s (37) symphonic poem Richard III is performed for the first time in its orchestrated setting, in Prague. See 24 April 1860.
Event icon
May 2, 1862: After three months in the city, Bedrich Smetana (38) gives his last concert in Göteborg.  He will soon return to Prague.
Performance icon
July 13, 1862: Bedrich Smetana (38) conducts his first performance as chorus master of the Hlahol Choral Society, Prague.
Event icon
March 13, 1863: Bedrich Smetana (39) is elected president of the Czech Society of Arts.
Event icon
April 23, 1863: Bedrich Smetana (39) submits the score of The Brandenburgers in Bohemia to the organizers of a competition to produce a truly Czech opera.
Event icon
September 1, 1863: Bedrich Smetana (39) reopens his music institute in Prague.
Performance icon
February 19, 1864: The Renegade for double male chorus by Bedrich Smetana (39) to words of Metlinskij translated by Celakovsky is performed for the first time.
Performance icon
February 24, 1864: Haakon Jarl, a symphonic poem by Bedrich Smetana (39), is performed for the first time, in Prague, directed by the composer.
Performance icon
April 23, 1864: March for the Shakespearean Festival by Bedrich Smetana (40) is performed for the first time, in Prague, conducted by the composer. The Festival celebrates the 300th anniversary of the playwright’s birth.
Performance icon
January 5, 1866: The Brandenburgers in Bohemia, an opera by Bedrich Smetana (41) to words of Sabina, is performed for the first time, in the Prague Provisional Theatre, to great success. Among the violists is Antonín Dvorák (24).
Event icon
March 27, 1866: The jury seeking an authentic Czech opera awards first prize (the Harrach Prize) to Bedrich Smetana (42) for The Brandenburgers in Bohemia.
Performance icon
May 30, 1866: The Bartered Bride, a comic opera by Bedrich Smetana (42) to words of Sabina, is performed for the first time, in the Prague Provisional Theatre conducted by the composer. Among the violists is Antonín Dvorák (24). See 29 January 1869, 1 June 1869, and 25 September 1870.
Event icon
July 3, 1866: Seven Weeks War: In the presence of King Wilhelm and Chancellor Bismarck, the Prussian army crosses the Bystrice in force at Sádová, near Königgrätz (Hradec Králové), 100 km east of Prague and engages the main Austrian army. After about nine hours of battle, the Austrians take to their heels and flee towards Königgrätz, many unaccompanied by their weapons. Hundreds drown attempting to cross the Elbe in panic. Thousands more will die of exhaustion and exposure. In spite of the extremely favorable situation, the Prussians do not finish off the Austrian army. 33,000 people die in the battle. Upon hearing the news from Sádová, Bedrich Smetana (42) flees Prague, fearing persecution from the Prussians.
Event icon
September 15, 1866: Bedrich Smetana (42) is elected conductor of the Provisional Theatre, Prague.
Event icon
September 27, 1866: Bedrich Smetana (42) takes up duties as conductor of the Provisional Theatre, Prague.
Performance icon
September 28, 1866: Bedrich Smetana (42) makes his debut as conductor of the Provisional Theatre, Prague, with a performance of Der Freischütz by Carl Maria von Weber (†40).
Event icon
February 16, 1867: After a quarrel between Mily Balakirev (30) and opera director Bedrich Smetana (42) in Prague, the score to Russlan and Lyudmilla mysteriously vanishes, causing Balakirev to conduct the work from memory.
Performance icon
March 17, 1868: Rolnická for male chorus by Bedrich Smetana (44) to words of Trnobransky is performed for the first time, in New Town Theatre, Prague.
Performance icon
May 16, 1868: The foundation stone for a permanent Czech National Theatre is laid in Prague. A parade of 60 different groups representing Czech society takes place. The largest group is made up of 2,600 choir singers. Representing Czech musicians in the ceremony is Bedrich Smetana (44). In the evening Dalibor, an opera by Smetana to words of Wenzig translated by Spindler, is performed for the first time, in the New Town Theatre, Prague. Among the violists is Antonín Dvorák (26).
Performance icon
January 29, 1869: The first revision of Bedrich Smetana’s (44) comic opera The Bartered Bride to words of Sabina is performed for the first time, in the Provisional Theatre, Prague.
Performance icon
May 15, 1869: A Divertimento on Slavonic Songs for flugelhorn by Bedrich Smetana (45) is performed for the first time.
Performance icon
June 1, 1869: The second revision of Bedrich Smetana’s (45) comic opera The Bartered Bride to words of Sabina is performed for the first time, in the Provisional Theatre, Prague.
Performance icon
May 16, 1870: Song of the Czechs for chorus by Bedrich Smetana (46) to words of Marek is performed for the first time.
Performance icon
September 25, 1870: The “definitive” version of The Bartered Bride, a comic opera by Bedrich Smetana (46) to words of Sabina, is performed for the first time, at the Prague Provisional Theatre.
Performance icon
December 2, 1870: The revised version of Dalibor, an opera by Bedrich Smetana (46) to words of Wenzig translated by Spindler, is performed for the first time, in the Provisional Theatre, Prague. See 16 May 1868.
Event icon
May 2, 1871: In Prague, Franz Liszt (59) hears Bedrich Smetana (47) play through excerpts from his opera Dalibor and then a performance of the overture to The Bartered Bride arranged for him.
Performance icon
April 14, 1872: The overture to Antonín Dvorák’s (30) unperformed opera King and Charcoal Burner is performed for the first time, in Prague, conducted by Bedrich Smetana (48). On the same program is the premiere of Smetana’s Libuse overture. See 11 June 1881.
Event icon
October 17, 1872: Prague Opera musicians, led by Antonín Dvorák (31), send a letter in support of Bedrich Smetana (48) to the theatre’s intendant, FL Rieger, who has been trying to remove him.
Performance icon
December 12, 1872: On his arrival to conduct a performance at the Prague Provisional Theatre, Bedrich Smetana (48) is greeted by a ten-minute ovation from artists, orchestra, and audience in response to attempts by rivals to remove him from his post.
Performance icon
March 27, 1874: The Two Widows, a comic opera by Bedrich Smetana (50) to words of Züngel after Mallefille, is performed for the first time, at the Prague Provisional Theatre. The audience response is warm but the critics are mixed.
Performance icon
March 29, 1874: Symphony no.3 by Antonín Dvorák (32) is performed for the first time, in Prague conducted by Bedrich Smetana (50).
Event icon
April 12, 1874: Bedrich Smetana (50) first notices the symptoms of syphilis on his body. The infection probably took place three to six weeks ago.
Performance icon
May 25, 1874: The scherzo from the Symphony no.4 by Antonín Dvorák (32) is performed for the first time, at the New Town Theatre in Prague, conducted by Bedrich Smetana (50). See 6 April 1892.
Event icon
July 28, 1874: Bedrich Smetana (50) reports that his ears are blocked and he feels giddy, early symptoms of syphilis.
Event icon
October 20, 1874: Bedrich Smetana (50) becomes deaf in his left ear. Within a few days he will be completely deaf.
Performance icon
March 14, 1875: Vysehrad, a symphonic poem from Ma Vlast by Bedrich Smetana (51) is performed for the first time, in Prague. The audience calls for the entire work to be repeated.
Performance icon
April 4, 1875: Vltava (Die Moldau), a symphonic poem from Ma Vlast by Bedrich Smetana (51) is performed for the first time, before a Prague audience which includes Leos Janácek (20). “My memory of Smetana is like that of a child’s imagining God: in the clouds.” (Tyrrell I, 94)
Event icon
May 24, 1875: Bedrich Smetana (51) enters the clinic of Dr. Zaufal where he undergoes a month’s therapy to cure his deafness including a dark isolation room and foul-smelling dressings smeared on his body. The treatment fails.
Event icon
October 25, 1875: “Electrotherapy” begins to be applied to Bedrich Smetana (51) as a last resort.
Event icon
June 3, 1876: Destitute, Bedrich Smetana (52) moves to his daughter’s country house in Jabkenice.
Performance icon
November 7, 1876: The Kiss, a popular opera by Bedrich Smetana (52) to words of Krásnohorská after Svetlá, is performed for the first time, at the Prague Provisional Theatre. The work proves a triumph.
Performance icon
December 10, 1876: From Bohemia’s Fields and Groves, a symphonic poem from Ma Vlast by Bedrich Smetana (52), is performed for the first time, in Prague. The audience calls for the work to be repeated.
Performance icon
March 4, 1877: Song of the Sea for chorus by Bedrich Smetana (53) to words of Hálek is performed for the first time, in Prague.
Performance icon
March 17, 1877: Sárka, a symphonic poem from Ma Vlast by Bedrich Smetana (53), is performed for the first time, in Prague.
Event icon
November 7, 1877: In Lamberk, Bedrich Smetana (53) undergoes a quack operation by a Dr. Klima to cure his deafness. It fails.
Performance icon
March 15, 1878: The definitive version of The Two Widows, a comic opera by Bedrich Smetana (54) to words of Züngel after Mallefille, is performed for the first time, in the Provisional Theatre, Prague. See 27 March 1874.
Performance icon
September 18, 1878: The Secret, a comic opera by Bedrich Smetana (54) to words of Krásnohorská, is performed for the first time, in the New Czech Theatre, Prague.
Performance icon
March 29, 1879: String Quartet in e minor by Bedrich Smetana (55) is performed for the first time, in Konvikt Hall, Prague.
Performance icon
January 4, 1880: Tábor and Blanik, two tone poems from Ma Vlast by Bedrich Smetana (55), are performed for the first time, in Prague in a concert celebrating the 50th anniversary of the composer’s first performance.
Performance icon
June 11, 1881: Libuse, a festival opera by Bedrich Smetana (57) to words of Wenzig translated by Spindler, is performed for the first time, for the opening of the National Theatre, Prague. The evening is attended by the Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria, to whom the composer is presented.
Performance icon
October 29, 1882: The Devil’s Wall, a comic-romantic opera by Bedrich Smetana (58) to words of Krásnohorská, is performed for the first time, in the New Czech Theatre, Prague.
Performance icon
November 5, 1882: The six tone poems of Ma Vlast by Bedrich Smetana (58) are performed together for the first time, in Prague.
Performance icon
January 3, 1884: String quartet in d minor by Bedrich Smetana (59) is performed for the first time, in Prague.
Performance icon
March 2, 1884: Prague Carnival for orchestra by Bedrich Smetana is performed for the first time, on the composer’s 60th birthday.
Event icon
April 23, 1884: After violent bouts of anger and failure to recognize his family, Bedrich Smetana (60) is taken to the Prague lunatic asylum in Katerinsky.
Death icon
May 12, 1884: 16:30 Bedrich Smetana dies in Prague, Kingdom of Bohemia, of the results of neurosyphilis, aged 60 years, two months and ten days. The cause of death is listed as “dementia senilis.”  His mortal remains will be laid to rest in Vysehradsky Hrbitov, Prague.
Event icon
May 13, 1884: One day after his death, an autopsy is performed on the body of Bedrich Smetana.
Performance icon
March 15, 1900: Fragments of the incomplete romantic opera Viola by Bedrich Smetana (†15) to words of Krásnohorská after Shakespeare, are performed for the first time, in a concert setting in Prague. See 11 May 1924.
Event icon
May 11, 1924: Fragments of the incomplete romantic opera Viola by Bedrich Smetana to words of Krásnohorská after Shakespeare, are staged for the first time, in the National Theatre, Prague, on the eve of the 40th anniversary of the composer’s death and in the centennial year of his birth. See 15 March 1900.
Performance icon
November 13, 1942: Symphony no.1 by Bohuslav Martinu (51) is performed for the first time, in Boston. In response to this work, Virgil Thomson (45) writes that Martinu is a worthy successor to Dvorák (†38) and the equal of Smetana (†58).
Performance icon
November 28, 1942: The first of 35 performances of The Bartered Bride by Bedrich Smetana (†58) takes place in Theresienstadt (Terezín).
Performance icon
July 20, 1943: A production of Bedrich Smetana's (†58) The Kiss takes place in Theresienstadt (Terezín)
Performance icon
April 3, 1984: Smetana fanfare for band by Karel Husa (62) is performed for the first time, in San Diego, California, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death of Bedrich Smetana.