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The String Quartet

The rise of Bohemian folk music with Bedřich Smetana (1824-1884) 

Bohemian folk music made its first real breakthrough into popular culture with the publication of Bedřich Smetana’s two quartets, in 1876 and 1883, which he wrote during a tumultuous time in his life. The first of the two, String Quartet in E minor, was not named ‘From my life’ for no reason. It’s about his private life as much as it is about his life as a Bohemian. Th private conflicts used for this piece are his impending deafness and the love he had for his dearly departed wife. The Bohemian way is apparent in the many dances. 

The second String Quartet in D minor has a completely different character. In 1880, Smetanas health had taken a turn for the worst. He suffered from hallucinations, insomnia and depression. That’s the state he was in when he composed his last chamber music piece a year before he died. 

Bedřich Smetana – String Quartet in E minor (no. 1) (1876)

1. Allegro vivo appassionato, 2. Allegro moderato a la polka, 3. Largo sostenuto,
4. Vivace

Performed by: Pavel Haas Quartet

Album: Supraphon

Bedřich Smetana – String Quartet D minor (no. 2) (1883)

1. Allegro, 2. Allegro moderato – Andante cantabile, 3. Allegro non piú moderato, ma agitato e con fuoco, 4. Finale. Presto

Performed by: Pavel Haas Quartet

Album: Supraphon

Bedřich Smetana – The Bartered Bride, Dance of the Comedians

(arr. Carlo Martelli)

Performed by: Quartetto Energie Nove

Album: Dynamic

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