TOP 10 Greatest Czech Composers of All Time

Although you may have already heard about Smetana or Dvořák, in this article I would like to introduce you to the top 10 Czech composers, across all kinds of music. From composers of pastorellas and masses to the author of Kde Domov Můj – the Czech national anthem. 

Adam Václav Michna z Otradovic (c. 1600–1676)

Adam Václav Michna z Otradovic was a Czech poet, organist and choir leader. He was the most important Czech composer and poet of the early Baroque. He wrote many carols including Vánoční noc (better known as Chtíc, aby spal) which is commonly sung today at Christmas in the Czech republic

Pavel Josef Vejvanovský (c. 1633–1693)

Pavel Josef Vejvanovský was a trumpeter and composer of the Baroque period. Vejvanovský is considered to be one of the greatest trumpet virtuosos of the age. He was able to play certain chromatic passages on the trumpet, which is not normally possible on the largely diatonic natural trumpet. 

Some notable works by Pavel Josef Vejvanovský:

  • Sonata à 6: 2 Violini, 2 Cornetti, Clarino, Violone, Organo.
  • Sonata Ittalica à 12: 3 Violini, 2 Cornetti, 3 Clarini, 4 Violae, Organo.
  • Sonata Sancti Mauritii: 2 Clarini, 2 Violini, 2 Violae, Organo.
  • Sonata Vespertina: 2 Clarini, 3 Tromboni, 2 Violini, Organo.
  • Sonata Tribus Quadrantibus: Clarino, Violino, Trombone, Organo.
  • Sonata Venatoria in D: 2 Clarini, 2 Violini, Viola, Organo.
  • Balletti Pro Tabula: 2 Clarini, 2 Violini, 2 Violae, Violoncello, Organo.
  • Missa Salvatoris: SATB, 2 Clarini, 2 Violini, 2 Viole, BC, 3 Tromboni colla parte ad libitum

(according to wikipedia.org)

Jakub Jan Ryba (1765–1815)

Jakub Jan Ryba was a teacher and composer of classical music. His most famous work is Česká mše Vánoční „Hej Mistře!“ (Czech Christmas Mass “Hey, Master!”). He committed suicide in 1815.

František Škroup (1801-1862) 

František Škroup was a composer and conducter. He is best remembered today as the author of the melody for the Czech national anthem Kde domov můj?.

Bedřich Smetana (1824–1884)

Bedřich Smetana is probably one of the most famous composers from this list. He was the founder of the Czech national school of musicMá vlast (one of his most well-known works today) is a collection of 6 pieces that are linked to Czech history, traditions and famous places. 

Má vlast: 

Vyšehrad https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45w7kZL71Qk

Vltava https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uI8iTETiSqU

Šárka https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0HtT0C7UYM

Z českých luhů a hájů https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yI0NjgrFV6k

Tábor https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSWlkI1N_XI

Blaník  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nyh-Pe-2X84

Antonín Dvořák (1841–1904)

Antonín Dvořák is also a very famous Czech composer. His work is commonly played world-wide. From 1892 to 1895, Dvořák was the director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York City. He began at a then-staggering $15,000 annual salary (today it would be something around $400 000). One of his most famous symphonies is Symphony No. 9 From the New World. By far his most successful opera is Rusalka. His seventh Humoresque is also very popular.

Leoš Janáček (1854–1928)

Leoš Janáček was one of the most important composers in the generation that followed Smetana and Dvořák. His greatest operas were not written until after he had reached 65.

Julius Fučík (1872–1916)

Julius Fučík was a composer and conductor of military bands. He wrote over 400 marches, polkas, and waltzes. He is mainly known worldwide for his “Entrance of the Gladiators” (this tune is often used by circus clowns) 

Jaroslav Ježek (1906–1942)

Jaroslav Ježek was playing a key role in Czech Jazz music. He studied composition at the Prague Conservatory, but he was almost blind from a young age. He took the post of the main conductor and composer for Osvobozené divadlo a theatre in Prague. There he met Jan Werich and Jiří Voskovec (famous playwriters/comedians). Bugatti step is probably one of his most popular pieces. 

Jaromír Vejvoda (1902-1988)

Jaromír Vejvoda was a composer and bandmaster, he is the author of the famous tune Škoda Lásky – also known as Rosamunde or Roll out the barrels.

This tune was sung by all the soldiers in World War II. (except the Japanese 😉) 

Honourable mention : Antonín Rejcha the teacher of Franz Liszt and a friend of Beethoven himself.

OUR FORMER JOURNALISTS

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