Masterclass: Liisa Randalu on Smetana’s Quartet no.1, ‘From My Life’

Quartet

Violist Liisa Randalu of the Schumann Quartet gives her perspective on the first movement of the Czech composer’s passionate and dramatic semi-autobiographical work

Smetana had been deaf for two years when he wrote his first string quartet in 1876, aged 52. At that time he was a poor widower, living with his eldest daughter in a gamekeeper’s lodge in the Czech village of Jabkenice, hopeful that his hearing might one day return. It did not, and by April 1884 his health had deteriorated so much that he was admitted to the Prague Lunatic Asylum, where he died that May.

 

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