Smetana and his Bartered Bride: Nationalism in 19th-Century Opera
For my major essay in 'Historical Survey II', I am taking a look at Bedrich Smetana's opera, "The Bartered Bride" in its historical context. During the 19th century there was a rise in nationalism in nations ruled by the Habsburg empire, and these sought a 'national music' that they could relate to and claim as music native to their country and land. I would like to explore the life and music of Smetana, with a focus on his most popular opera. Why and how did Smetana become the 'mascot' for Czech music? Why did the Bartered Bride become so iconic when it was not well received at first, and why is it considered quintessentially 'Czech' when it doesn't quote any folksongs? Why this sudden push for a national identity in music anyway? These are preliminary questions that come to mind as I begin my research.