Bedřich Smetana

Bedřich Smetana

Myth, Music, and Propaganda

Kelly St. Pierre


University of Rochester Press



This book reveals Czech composer Bedřich Smetana as a dynamic figure whose mythology has been rewritten time and again to suit shifting political perspectives.
Interpretations of Czech composer Bedřich Smetana and his music have shifted as frequently as the political contexts in which they were written. This book examines not just Smetana, but also the scholar-politicians who have imagined and reimagined him and his works since the nineteenth century. During the 1870s, Smetana helped found a powerful nationalist organization called the Umelecká beseda ("Artistic Society," or UB), whose members produced the earliest scholarship on the composer as part of their calls for political action. Within the increasingly radicalized discourses of the twentieth century, individuals including future Minister of Culture and Education Zdenĕk Nejedlý attacked the UB for not being nationalistic enough, producing their own revisionist histories of Smetana and his works. Kelly St. Pierre investigates Smetana as both nationalist composer and national symbol, revealing the composer's legacy as a dynamic figure whose mythology has been rewritten time and time again to suit changing political perspectives.

Kelly St. Pierre is assistant professor of musicology at Wichita State University.

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March 2017
12 line illustrations
178 pages
9x6 in
Eastman Studies in Music
ISBN: 9781580465106
Format: Hardback
University of Rochester Press
BISAC MUS050000, MUS020000, HIS040000
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Related Titles

Table of Contents

Smetana Advocacy and Czech Nation-Building
Smetana, Czechness, and the New German School
Smetana, Czechness, and Wagner
Smetana as a Proven Genius
Writing the Smetana Myth: Historiography and Czechness


A significant work of scholarship, Kelly St. Pierre's Bedřich Smetana: Myth, Music, and Propaganda fills an obvious and important gap in the literature of musical politics in Prague from the last quarter of the nineteenth century to the end of the First Republic. With an excellent and thorough consideration of both Czech and English sources, including the most recent publications, this book will be indispensable for scholars and enthusiasts of Czech music, as well as scholars, students, and devotees of late nineteenth-century European cultural and intellectual history. --Derek Katz, author of Janácek beyond the Borders

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