Smetana and Shakespeare

Pages 57-80
DOI 10.1515/muscz-2017-0009
Keywords Bedřich Smetana - William Shakespeare - Eliška Krásnohorská - Richard III - Macbeth - Viola - libretto - symphonic poem - Smetana's correspondence - Umělecká beseda
Musicalia. Journal of the Czech Museum of Music / Časopis Českého muzea hudby | 2017/9/1-2

This study deals with Bedřich Smetana’s encounters with the legacy of William Shakespeare. The introduction is devoted to Smetana’s participation at the celebration of Shakespeare’s 300th birthday in 1864, at which he took part in the organization and dramaturgy as a conductor and a composer. The next part deals with the possible sources of Smetana’s knowledge of Shakespeare’s plays, followed by compositions inspired by specific dramas. It describes the circumstances of the genesis of the symphonic poem Richard III and of the piano composition Macbeth and Smetana’s conception of those works’ subject matter in relation to the shift of his artistic orientation towards programme music during his stay in Sweden. Above all, on the basis of their exchanged correspondence, the study then examines the ups and downs of Smetana’s relationship with the Eliška Krásnohorská and the composer’s unfinished opera Viola based on Twelfth Night.

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