Bed?ich Smetana (2 March 1824 – 12 May 1884) was a Czech composer who pioneered the development of a musical style that became closely identified with his people's aspirations to a cultural and political "revival". He has been regarded in his homeland as the father of Czech music.
Smetana was born in Litomyšl, Bohemia (now the Czech Republic). He was naturally gifted as a composer, and gave his first public performance at the age of six. After conventional schooling, he studied music under Josef Proksch in Prague. His first nationalistic music was written during the 1848 Prague uprising, in which he briefly participated. After failing to establish his career in Prague, he left for Sweden, where he set up as a teacher and choirmaster in Gothenburg, and began to write large-scale orchestral works. In the early 1860s, a more liberal political climate in Bohemia encouraged Smetana to return permanently to Prague.
In Prague, Smetana founded the Czech National Theater, and wrote a number of operas that are now considered to be classics of the Czech repertoire, including The Bartered Bride and The Kiss. He also wrote a number of other works, including symphonic poems, chamber music, and songs.
Smetana was diagnosed with syphilis in 1874, and his health declined rapidly in the years that followed. He died in Prague in 1884, at the age of 60.
Smetana's music is characterized by its use of folk melodies and rhythms, and its vivid portrayal of Czech landscapes and history. His works are still performed all over the world, and he is considered to be one of the most important composers of the 19th century.