Prague's National Theatre to host free birthday party for 'father of Czech music'

Seating, refreshements, and a lineup of activities are planned for Saturday as the National Theatre live streams its gala Smetana tribute in the piazetta. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 28.02.2024 12:23:00 (updated on 29.02.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

Czech composer Bedřich Smetana, born on March 2, 1824, in Litomyšl, remains a cherished figure in Czech history, and compositions such as The Bartered Bride and Má vlast (My Homeland) have become emblematic of Czech culture. 

As the composer's 200th birth anniversary approaches, the Czech Republic stands poised to celebrate and honor Smetana’s musical genius with exhibitions, gala concerts, and new recordings. 

Gala concert to showcase composer's greatest hits

The National Theater Opera (ND) will host a Smetana Gala concert on Saturday, March 2, at the historic ND building, featuring a comprehensive selection of Smetana’s operas that pay homage to Smetana’s profound influence on Czech music, opera, and the National Theatre.

Tickets are now on sale for the three-hour performance under the baton of ND Opera’s music director, Robert Jindra, alongside renowned Czech conductors, the National Theatre Orchestra and the National Theatre Choir will showcase Smetana’s compositions from Brandenburgers in Bohemia, Dalibor, Bartered Bride, Two Widows, and Libuše. 

The public can watch for free in the Piazetta

The performance will be broadcast on television and radio and live streamed onto the National Theatre’s Piazetta, where the public can enjoy the concert and commemorate Smetana’s birthday via a giant outdoor screen. 

Seating, refreshments, and a lineup of activities are slated for Saturday, with heaters provided in case of bad weather. The livestream event is free and open to the public, with the celebration starting at 2 p.m. and highlights at 6:30 p.m. with a finale at 9:30 p.m. See a complete program of Smetana Party events here

The National Theatre and its New Stage. Photo: iStock/Pgiam
The National Theatre and its New Stage. Photo: iStock/Pgiam

National Year of Music

The extensive Smetana 200 tribute is part of the broader context of the National Year of Czech Music, which aims to praise Smetana’s profound contributions to the world of music and to project the Czech Republic’s cultural dynamism to a global audience.

As part of the Year of Czech Music, ND plans to showcase 16 Czech operas, introducing three new productions and two world premieres.

The Czech Philharmonic will pay tribute to Smetana's 200th birthday with a special release of his famed work Má vlast conducted by Semjon Byčkov in March. The orchestra is also planning an extensive tour, including performances in the U.S.

In March, the National Museum will open an exhibit devoted to the renewed beauty of the theater costumes of Smetana’s operas. Additionally, a dance competition, Why We Shouldn’t Dance, organized by the National Information and Advisory Center for Culture, concludes on May 11 in Prague’s Archa+ cultural space.

Impact on Czech culture and nation

In the final decade of his life, while suffering from deafness and worsening mental health, Smetana composed some of his most famous music, including Má vlast – an orchestral portrayal of the landscapes and legends of Bohemia.

Composed between 1874 and 1879, it comprises six symphonic poems that premiered collectively in 1882 and celebrate Bohemia’s landscapes, history, and legends. A symbol of Czech heritage and pride, Má vlast uniquely merges the symphonic poem form with late nineteenth-century nationalistic musical ideals.

Would you like us to write about your business? Find out more