Smetana, Janáček, “Beer Barrel Polka” — and Verbuňk

Czechia has produced some amazing composers, opera singers, and conductors: The genius composers Bedřich Smetana and Antonín Dvořák; the divine voice of Emmy Destinn; the legendary creator of Rusalka, jazzman and Grammy winner Ondřej Pivec; and the greatest contemporary conductor, Jakub Hrůša, to name but a few!

The spotlight will shine on The Year of Czech Music and the Smetana 200 project in the programs of cultural institutions and music festivals all over Czechia. Fabulous events will take place across the magnificent venues of Prague such as the Rudolfinum, the National Theatre, the State Opera, and the Municipal House.  

Anniversary of Bedřich Smetana 

Bedřich Smetana is arguably one of the greatest figures in the music world. His famous composition The Bartered Bride has been performed more than any other opera, and the fanfare of his opera Libuše is played to mark the arrival of the Czech president at official occasions. Through his music, Smetana described the beauty of Czechia as has no other composer before or since. 2024 marks the 200th anniversary of his birth and the 140th of his death 

Janáček, Mysliveček and Dvořák 

Czechia is the birthplace of other great Czech composers who left their mark on the world of music. Leoš Janáček made a name for himself in New York and Vienna. The composer of some of the world’s most frequently performed operas, such as The Cunning Little Vixen, he is linked to Brno, Czechia’s second-largest city and home of the Janáček Theatre. 

Antonín Dvořák was a genius. You can attend his opera Rusalka when you visit Czechia, and visit the Antonín Dvořák Museum in Prague as well as the house in Nelahozeves where he spent his childhood. In his time, he was a true superstar who put Prague on the musical map of Europe.  

Don’t forget about the mighty Josef Mysliveček, a prominent figure in European music history and at one time the most sought-after opera composer in Italy. The illustrious Mozart considered him his mentor.  

Mozart in Prague 

Speaking of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, he also left an indelible mark on Prague. Already famous, in January 1787 the Austrian piano virtuoso arrived at Prague’s Nostic Theatre (now the Estates Theatre) to conduct his opera The Marriage of Figaro. The people of Prague were overjoyed. Mozart then decided to compose his opera Don Giovanni for Prague out of gratitude. 

Beer Barrel Polka is Czech! 

Many countries claim that Polka belongs to their nation — but it isn’t  true! “Beer Barrel Polka” or “Rosamunde”, originally called “Škoda lásky”, is traditionally Czech. The melody, known worldwide, gained popularity during World War II. It was written by Czech composer Jaromír Vejvoda. 

Do you know Verbuňk? 

The Verbuňk is danced by men in folk costumes accompanied by a cimbalo or brass band. It was originally the way recruits said “goodbye” when they were leaving to join the army. Verbuňk is on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list. You can see it mainly in the Slovácko region. 

Things to consider before traveling

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Some tips to consider while traveling

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