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Sibelius, Jan

1865 - 1957


The best known of the Finnish composers chiefly remembered for his seven symphonies.

He studied in Helsinki, in 1889 he went to Berlin , then after a year to Vienna.

He retumed to Helsinki in 1891 and immediately made a mark with his choral symphony Kullervo, though it took him another decade to emerge from the powerful influence of Tchaikovsky: important stages on the journey were marked by the Karelia suite, the set of four tone poems on the legendary hero Lemminkainen, the grandiose Finlandia and the first two symphonies.

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Smetana, Bedrich

1824 - 1884


Czech composer and conductor. Smetana was one of the founders of the Czech nationalist movement.

Smetana wrote national music based on Bohemian folk tunes. In 'The Bartered Bride' he produced one of the greatest of all comic operas.

Smetana continued conducting and composing, beginning work on his cycle of nationalistic tone poems, Ma vlast (My Country) - of which 'The Moldau' is the best known.

After the nationalist revolts of 1848, the desire for independence from the outside domination of the Austrian Empire inspired artists, writers and musicians throughout central and eastern Europe. Smetana's creation of a national music marks an important chapter in the Romantic movement of the nineteenth century.

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