Vilem Blodek (3.10.1834 Praha - 1.5.1874 Praha )

Czech composer, musician and teacher. He was born in a poor family, studied at piaristic college in Prague. He learned piano from Czech composer Alexandr Dreyschock. In 1846-52 he studied at the Prague Conservatory under Antonin Eiser (flute) and Jan Bedrich Kittl (composition). After finishing studies he worked in the region of Galicia, Poland as private music teacher for two years. After his return to Prague, he made his living as piano virtuoso, music teacher and shortly as a choirmaster of men's chorale for which he composed a lot of patriotic choral works. In 1860 he became a professor of flute at Prague COnservatory. In 1864 he worked together with Smetana on music for the Shakespeare Celebrations. In 1865 he married his student Marie Doudlebska. His long-term overwork lead to mental break down. He spent the last 4 years of his life in the insane hospital in Prague-Katerinky, coincidentally the same place where Smetana died 10 years later.

Blodek composed music since his age of 13, influenced mainly by his teacher Kittl, Mendelsson and German early romantic composers. His most ambitious work was Symphony in D-Minor. His Flute Concerto also belongs to his most precious works. The best known and most played of his works was the one-act comic opera V studni (In the Well), written on libretto by Karel Sabina (who also wrote for Smetana). The opera was introduced in the Interim Theatre in 1867 and competed the success of Smetana's Bartered Bride at that time. Blodek worked on another opera (more ambitious full 3-Acts on Sabina's libretto again) called Zitek but he managed to finish just the first and a part of the second act. Blodek's widow asked Smetana to finish Zitek after her husband's death but Smetana refused, also growing ill at that time. The opera was finally finished by another Czech composer, F.X.Vana, and introduced first time in 1934 on the occasion of 100th Anniversary of Blodek's birth.


Mala encyklopedie hudby (book by dr. Jar. Smolka; &kolektiv, Supraphon 1983)
CD booklet Vilem Blodek: V studni / In the Well (Supraphon, original recording 1984, CD 1995)

Sample (MP3):
V studni - Ouverture (Prague National Theatre Orchestra, cond. Jan Stych, rec. Supraphon 1984)