The much-feted Czech composer Bedřich Smetana is regarded as the father of Czech music and is best known for his opera The Bartered Bride. Born in 1824, he was precociously talented and gave his first public performance aged six. He studied music in Prague before moving to Gothenburg in Sweden, where he continued writing music. In the early 1860s, Smetana returned to Prague and in 1866 became principal conductor at the city’s Provisional Theatre, where his first two operas were performed. His health failed in 1874 and although he composed until his death, he died in an asylum in 1884.
The Bedrich Smetana Museum (Muzeum Bedricha Smetany) was established in his memory in 1926 and moved into its current handsome home next to Charles Bridge on the banks of the Vltava River in 1935. The building itself is worthy of mention: it is the Neo-Renaissance former Old Town Water Works, built in 1884 by Antonín Wiehl. Its exterior is covered in elaborate sgraffito work illustrating a battle between Bohemia and Sweden, which was fought on Charles Bridge in 1648.
Once inside, the museum is crammed with Smetana’s furniture, photographs of his family, scores of his greatest masterpieces, copies of his letters and a couple of his pianos. There’s the chance to listen to his music at the point of an electric baton as well as occasional recitals. A vast reclining bronze of the composer stands in the museum’s riverside courtyard and Smetana fans can take in regular concerts held in the atrium of the Czech Museum of Music, at Karmelitská 2-4 nearby.
Open Wed–Mon 10am–5pm. Admission for adults is 50 CZK; seniors, students and children aged 6–15 is 30 CZK; less than 6 go free; family tickets are 90 CZK. Entry is free with Prague Welcome Card. For transportation, take Metro Line A or Tram 17 to Staroměstská.