Bedrich Smetana was born in Bohemia in 1824. He studied violin from a young age and had picked up piano enough to be performing in public by age six. In his mid-twenties he moved to Prague where he taught at a piano school. While there, he met his future wife, Katerina Kolárová, and they were married in 1849.

Up until 1856, Smetana had not had much luck in either his personal or professional life. Three of four young daughters died in a span of two years. He had failed attempts at starting both a music school and a concert career in Prague. He left his home again to make something of himself - this time headed to Sweden.

In 1856 he became the conductor of the Philharmonic Society of Goteborg, where he stayed until 1861. Here he composed his first symphonic poems. His wife's waning health took him back towards Bohemia in 1859, but she died in Dresden en route.

By this time a Czech nationalist movement was surfacing in Bohemia. After a few unsuccessful revolts against the German House of Habsurg since the reinstatement of German rule in the early 17th century, the movement was building momentum with help, in part, by artists like Smetana.

Smetana returned to Prague in 1861 to find no more favor with the people than he previously did. He took the conductor position at the Prague Opera, and, in 1866 released "The Brandenburgers in Bohemia", which was enthusiastically recieved. "The Bartered Bride" soon followed and was speedily put into production. While he enjoyed success from these (and subsequent) operas, foreign performances were uncommon.

in 1866, Smetana became the principal conductor of the Provisional Theatre and, during his tenure there, added 42 operas to his repertoire, including his two most nationalistic: "The Two Widows" and "Dalibor and Libuse". He resigned in 1874 to care for himself; he was suffering severely from syphilis. He went deaf soon after.

It was the next five years of his life that he created some of his best work. He composed the six nationalistic symphonic tone poems known as Má Vlast. This collection of works includes probably his most widely-known piece, Vltava. He also composed a string quartet against doctor's orders titled "Z mého zivota" and numerous piano solos.

Bedrich Smetana died at the age of 60 in an asylum from complications of his disease.

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