Smetana and Shakespeare

Olga Mojzísová

Abstract

This study deals with Bedrich Smetanas encounters with the legacy of William Shakespeare. The introduction is devoted to Smetana’s participation at the celebration of Shakespeare’s 300th birthday in 1864, at which he took part in the organization and dramaturgy as a conductor and a composer. The next part deals with the possible sources of Smetana’s knowledge of Shakespeare’s plays, followed by compositions inspired by specific dramas. It describes the circumstances of the genesis of the symphonic poem Richard III and of the piano composition Macbeth and Smetana’s conception of those works’ subject matter in relation to the shift of his artistic orientation towards programme music during his stay in Sweden. Above all, on the basis of their exchanged correspondence, the study then examines the ups and downs of Smetana’s relationship with the Eliska Krásnohorská and the composer’s unfinished opera Viola based on Twelfth Night.

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