100 Years of Great Czech Music: Smetana, Dvorak, and Janacek
In 19th-century European classical music, the spirit of nationalism was a powerful force, enriching the sound, form, and performance practices of the status quo. Bedrich Smetana, Antonín Dvorák, and Leoš Janácek emphasized their Czech heritage through the use of native language, folk melodies, dances, and characteristic rhythms. Nationalistic topics provided the subject matter for larger works, such as operas, symphonies, and tone poems, as well as smaller genres, including character pieces and sonatas. By recasting Italian, French, and German musical models, they found profound inspiration in their roots. We will explore such works as Smetana’s Má Vlast and The Bartered Bride; Dvorák’s Slavonic Dances, Gypsy Songs, and Rusalka, plus his “American” works including String Quartet in F and the New World Symphony; and Janácek’s Sinfonietta, Jenufa, and Glagolitic Mass, to name a few. In tracing the threads of their individual musical journeys, we will travel to Prague, Vienna, Budapest, and even New York. Artistic triumphs and challenges will be further informed by cultural context. Note: No musical knowledge is needed for the enjoyment of this course.
You'll Walk Away with
- Familiarity with the work and legacy of classical greats Smetana, Dvorák, and Janácek
- An understanding of how nationalism inspired and energized 19th-century classical music
- Knowledge of European and American influences in Czech classical music
- Music lovers
- All members of the community—working, retired, and in between