String Quartets

Smetana was also an important chamber music composer. Smetana actually wrote three string quartets. The two surviving quartets are both autobiographical in nature. The first string quartet in D minor which he composed at fifteen (1839-1840?)was unnumbered and is lost. The second which, labeled No.1 in E minor was written in 1876 and is the famous Z Meho Zivot(From My Life). The third labeled No.2 in D minor was written in 1882- March 12, 1883 and has no subtitle.

The first String Quartet in E Minor is a musical recollection of the composer's youth, paints a picture of yearning ambition, a happy life and the delights of love; but at the end, there are hints of future difficulties that darken the quartet's sunny mood.

The second String Quartet in D Minor was written after deafness had overtaken Smetana, is less sanguine in tone. Its darker themes, suggesting the difficulties of the composer's life with the handicap of hearing loss, exert a powerful, emotional pull on the listener. Remarkable for their quasi-programmatic realism in recalling Smetana's life, both works are frequently heard and performed today.

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