chapter  8
33 Pages

The Chamber Music of Smetana and Dvořák

The Czech lands, dubbed "the conservatory of Europe" by Charles Burney, have supplied composers and performers to the cultural centers of the continent for centuries. The history of music during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries is peppered with such surnames as Benda, Dusfk, Stamitz, Kozeli'lh and Reicha, but only in conjunction with the emerging nationalist movement of the mid-nineteenth century did Czech composers consciously orient their efforts towards a distinctively national culture. Czech music from the latter part of the nineteenth century has been most frequently evaluated as part of an independent musical tradition, one in which such nationalistic features as patriotic programs and allusions to folk culture are held to be self~evident virtues. The Aloldau (Vltava), f()r example, from Smetana's Mri Vlast, has long been a fixture in music history and appreciation texts; yet that is due less to its purely musical qualities than to its indulgence in local color.