Smetana was the founder of the school of
Czech musical nationalism.
He was born in 1824 in Bohemia, of German-speaking parents. He studied music in
Prague, and became a teacher and concert pianist. He became a fervent
Nationalist, campaigning for independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In
1856 he moved to Sweden for 5 years. When back in Prague he turned to Opera, and
The Bartered Bride is his most well-known.
He wrote the cycle of Symphonic Poems
Ma Vlast (My Fatherland) between 1872 and 1879. One of
these, Vltava (Die Moldau in German) is a portrait of the river that flows through
Prague, and this is the most well known of his tone-poems.