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Zdenek Fibich

born: 1850-12-21
died: 1900-10-15
birthplace: Vseborice u Zruce n.S.
diedplace: Praha

third most important Czech composer of the 19th century (after Dvorak and Smetana). Born in the family of a head forester in a lodge close to Vseborice, Central-East Bohemia. Till the age of 9 he did not attend school; he got the basic education from his mother, German-speaking Austrian born. He learned German from and also got first musical edication from her. In his age of 9 he entered a German Grammar School first. Only 2 years later he changed to Czech grammar school in Prague. Simultaneously he attended Smetana's piano school. In the age of 15 he finished studies in Prague and left to Leipzig, Germany to study at the conservatory (among others, piano under Ignaz Moscheles). After several months in Paris he finished his musical studies with Vinzenz Lachner in Mannheim. He spent following years in Prague with his parents. In the age of 23 he married Ruzena Hanusova and left to Vilnius, Lithuania to teach choir singing. He spent two years there, heavily affected by a family tragedy. He lost his wife and two new-born children. In 1874 he came back to Prague. He composed music and gave private musical lessons. In 1875-1877 he was a bandmaster of the Interim Theatre, In 1875 he married Ruzena's sister Betty Hanusova, an excellent opera singer. In the 1890's he abandoned her due to an affair with the young poet-writer Anezka Schulzova who became the author of his opera librettos. He wrote a large number of love songs for her at that time. In 1899-1900 he was an opera dramaturgist of the National Theatre.

His musical works were based on German Romanticism (Schumann, Wagner). In his later development, he was heavily influenced by Smetana's national program look (symphonical poems Zaboj, Slavoj and Ludek, opera Blanik etc.). His works are very diversed and include both tiny chamber compositions (mostly for piano) and large-scale compositions on big (often tragical) themes. His symphonical poems wer on one side influenced by Smetana; on the other hand, they served to Smetana as a source of inspiration for his own symphonical poem cycle Ma Vlast. He also wrote operas and - most of all - melodramas. Resurrection and formal perfection of this musical form was a pioneering achievment of a world-wide importance in his time. Fibich was also the first composer who used Polka (Czech national dance) in a chamber work (Quartet in A Major), which also influenced Smetana and later Dvorak.

  • 8 operas
  • Scenic music (for plays of Shakespeare, Goethe, Schiller, Vrchlicky and others)
  • Concerto and scenic melodramas (Christmas Eve 1875, Waterman 1883, trilogy Hippodamie 1888-1891)
  • Vocal Choir music
  • Songs
  • Orchestral works (symphonical poems, 3 symphonies, ouvertures etc.)
  • Chamber music
  • Piano music (e.g. Moods, Impressions and Reminders - 4 series, 1891-1902)


Mala encyklopedie hudby (book by dr. Jar. Smolka; &kolektiv, Supraphon 1983)
Kniha o hudbe (V.Holzknecht a kol., Orbis 1964)


Moods, Impressions and Remnders op.41 / 19 Quasi presto e con fuoco (MP3) (Marian Lapsansky piano, Supraphon 1996)

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Last update 2012-07-04