The Romantic Legacy

late nineteenth to early twentieth century

(Classical Music Map)


I. History of Classical Music  (by John Stanley)
The great composers and their masterworks in MP3 format
Albeniz Borodin Donizetti Hindemith Prokofiev Schutz
Albinoni Brahms Dowland Janacek Puccini Scriabin
Allegri Britten Dvorak Kodaly Purcell Sibelius
Arne Bruckner Falla Leoncavallo Rachmaninov Smetana
Auber Busoni Field Liszt Rameau Strauss J.S.
Bach Byrd Gabrieli Lully Ravel Strauss R.
Barber Carissimi Gershwin Mahler Respighi Stravinsky
Bartok Charpentier Gesualdo Mendelssohn Rimsky-Korsakov Tallis
Beethoven Cherubini Glinka Meyerbeer Rossini Tchaikovsky
Bellini Chopin Gluck Monteverdi Saint-Saens Telemann
Bernstein Clementi Gounod Mozart Scarlatti Verdi
Berwald Corelli Grieg Mussorgsky Schoenberg Victoria
Berlioz Couperin Handel Pachelbel Shostakovich Villa-Lobos
Bizet Debussy Haydn Paganini Schubert Vivaldi
Boccherini Delibes Hildegard Palestrina Schumann Wagner
Orff  "Carmina Burana"
II. History of Jazz

Bedrich Smetana



Smetana, often regarded as the founder of Czech classical music, was born in Litomysl in Bohemia. Although his parents' eleventh child, he was the first son to survive infancy, and his father, an avid amateur violinist, lavished attention on his musical education. By the age of six he had played in a string quartet and given his first piano recital; two years later lie was writing music. When the family moved to Nemecky Brod — a centre of political and cultural thought - Smetana developed an interest in philosophy and literature.

In 1843 he settled in Prague and earned a living as tutor to an aristocratic family, at the same time studying composition and piano privately. His diary records his early ambition: "By the grace of God and with His help I shall one day be a Liszt in technique and a Mozart in composition."

After taking part in the fighting at the barricades during the abortive 1848 nationalist uprising in Prague, he made the first of many visits to Sweden in 1856 and opened a music school there. His friendship with Liszt (whom he had met several years earlier) led in 1858 to an invitation to visit Leipzig where he attended concerts of contemporary music by composers such as Wagner.

In 1866 Smetana conducted his first successful large-scale composition, The bartered bride, which is one of his most popular works. Its overriding mood is uncharacteristically one of joyous optimism, and Smetana later related how many of the delightful melodies were inspired by his habitual evening walks along the banks of the Vltava river. Also in 1 866 he was appointed to the coveted post of principal conductor of the Prague Provisional Theatre orchestra (in which Dvorak was principal violist). Тhis allowed him to promote new works by fellow Czech composers as well as to include more French and Italian music, rather than the almost exclusive diet of Austrian and German music performed in most Czech concert halls.

Smetana's massive orchestral work Ma Vlast (My Fatherland) occupied the composer for seven years. Completed in 1879. this cycle of six tone poems soon became one of his best-loved pieces, and was performed frequently throughout Europe and America. It represents the struggles of the politically and culturally oppressed Czech people, expressing in music their long-held desire for independence.

During these years, Smetana's health began to deteriorate seriously. The onset of venereal disease brought increasing deafness and badly affected his ability to concentrate. Over the next few years, living in virtual isolation, he composed two operas - The kiss (1876), an attractive blend of serious, romantic and comic elements, and The secret (1877). The autobiographical string quartet, From my life, also composed during these years, includes a piercing whistling sound in the last movement which graphically depicts the effects of Smetana's deafness.

Throughout his last years Smetana's mental health degenerated as well, and in 1884 he was committed to a Prague lunatic asylum. With his death, two months later, Czechoslovakia lost its first truly nationalist composer, one who would provide a source of inspiration for generations of artists to come.


Bedrich Smetana



Bedrich Smetana (1824-1884)



Trio in G minor, Op. 15
Washington Musica Viva
Moderato assai

Allegro, ma non agitato

Finale: Presto

"The Bartered Bride"
Trio Con Brio
Dance of the Comedians





















Strauss Richard



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