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Bedřich Smetana – 200 years since the birth of the world-famous composer

In 2024, it will be 200 years since the birth (March 1824) of one of the most famous Czech composers, Bedřich Smetana, and also 140 years since his death (May 1884). The Year of Czech music can also be seen in Savonlinna Opera Festival, as the visiting Prague National Theatre will bring The Bartered Bride, one of Smetana’s most famous compositions, to the Olavinlinna Castle. Get to know Smetana’s works and the places that have been an inseparable part of his life.

Hometown Litomyšl

Bedřich Smetana was born in Litomyšl, a town on the border between Bohemia and Moravia. He played the violin and piano from an early age, and composed his first compositions at the age of eight. His home, the former castle brewery, now serves as a museum that takes visitors into the life of the first half of the 19th century and the everyday life of the Smetana family. The exhibition also sheds light on important life stages in the composer’s life – for example, the departure to Prague and later Gothenburg – and how they are reflected in his works.

Litomyšl is a very beautiful destination. The Renaissance castle on the UNESCO list is one of the most famous in the country, and the city hosts an international opera festival called Smetana’s Litomyšl every year in early summer. See more Czech travel tips here.

Studying in Prague and later becoming a conductor

In 1843, the young Bedřich Smetana went to Prague to study music and later founded a music school there. He was the director of the school until 1856, when he moved to Gothenburg. Smetana’s production was greatly influenced by Franz Liszt, whom Smetana visited a few times in Weimar, Germany. Back in the Czech Republic, he returned in the following decade, became the conductor of the orchestra of the National Theater in Prague and composed many famous works, including The Bartered Bride, which can also be seen at the Savonlinna Opera Festival this summer. Smetana eventually became deaf, but continued to compose even after this, and some of his most famous works – for example the six-part Má vlast were created in this period.

It is no coincidence that the museum dedicated to Smetana in Prague is located on the banks of the magnificent Vltava River in a Neo-Renaissance style building in the old town. From there, you can enjoy beautiful views of the river and Prague Castle. In the museum’s exhibition, you get to know the phases of Smetana’s life, you get to see objects that were owned by the composer (e.g. Smetana’s own piano) and his handwritten sheet music, and of course listen to his compositions.


Bedřich Smetana’s operas are Czech treasures.The subject of many of Smetana’s operas is related to Czech mythology (for example the operas Libuše and Dalibor) and Tajemství, which tells a story similar to Romeo and Juliet. The humorous Prodaná nevěsta (The Bartered Bride), which for 150 years has been the most popular of all Czech operas.

Next summer, the renowned Prague National Theatre, which will be a guest at the Savonlinna Opera Festival, will bring to Olavinlinna not only The Bartered Bride but also a Grand Opera Concert, where the soloists of the Prague National Theatre will be complemented in a wonderful way, when the soprano legend Karita Mattila will also be seen on stage. In addition to Smetana’s compositions, the concert will also feature music by other prominent Czech composers.

Grand Opera Concert at Olavinlinna on July 31st at 7 p.m., tickets starting at €65 (+ service fee). See more details and buy tickets here.
The Bartered Bride at Olavinlinna on July 27th, 30th, and August 1st at 7 p.m., tickets starting at €65 (+ service fee). See more details and buy tickets here.

Photo: Statue of Bedřich Smetana outside the Smetana Museum, along the Vltava River in Prague. (Shutterstock)

Source Visit Czechia.