Does any of these faces look familiar? Well, even if they maybe don’t, you probably know some of the famous melodies these men put down on paper. Meet the most famous Czech composers.
It is said that every Czech is a musician. Truth or not, quite a few Czech composers became immortal thanks to their work. You might not know their faces or even their names but you’ve definitely heard some of their most famous compositions.
The most internationally played Czech composer was born in 1841. His melodies are played by orchestras all around the world. He even became the director of the New York conservatory and was awarded a title of nobility by the Austro-Hungarian emperor Franz Josef I. His genres were mainly classical music and operette. In his work, Dvořák intended to transmit his Slavic heritage. His Slavonic Dances and Moravian Duets are a perfect example of that. However, the work people probably know the most is the lyric fairy-tale opera Rusalka, especially the Song to the Moon.
Listen to Renée Fleming’s stunning performance in Czech:
Smetana is another world-famous Czech composer. Born in Litomyšl in 1824 into a family of beer-brewers he specialized in classical music, operette and symphonies. He even continued composing after he lost all hearing at the end of his life. Part of his most famous work is a series of 8 operas. And what is the melody many of you know? We bet it’s the song Vltava (The Moldau) from the cycle of symphonic poems called Má vlast (My country). He wrote this song being already completely deaf.
So listen to the song admiring the longest Czech river:
You’ll find a lot of reference to Janáček in Brno which is where he lived and worked. His style was very peculiar and his work – although highly valued – is not the easiest to listen to. His most famous pieces include the oper Její pastorkyňa (Her Stepdaughter) and Příhody lišky Bystroušky (The Cunning Little Vixen). The unusual melodics of his compositions is based on the Moravian folcloric music. Although he’s famous especially for his operas, we must mention also his choral work like Hradčanské písně (Songs of Hradčany).
Martinů is the second most internationally played Czech composer. He composed operas, symphonies, classical music as well as ballet. His coral compositions meet with high appreciation at the choral compositions. He went through several styles until finally creating his own personal one. He emigrated first to France, then to the USA and later to Switzerland where he spent the rest of his life. One of his most famous pieces is the chamber cantata Otvírání studánek (The Opening of the Wells).
Petr Eben was a composer of modern classical music. He composed operas, ballets, orcherstral pieces as well as chamber music. His choral work is an important one as well. His work often contains organ parts. Eben’s music is often player all over Europe as well as in the USA, Canada, Australia and Japan. We leave you with one of his beautiful choral pieces: