Bedrich Smetana (1824-1884) was a Czech composer who pioneered the development of a musical style which became closely identified with his country's aspirations to independent statehood. He has been regarded in his homeland as the father of Czech music. Smetana was naturally gifted as a composer, and gave his first public performance at the age of 6.
By the end of 1874, Smetana had become completely deaf but, freed from his theatre duties and the related controversies, he began a period of sustained composition that continued for almost the rest of his life. His contributions to Czech music were increasingly recognised and honoured, but a mental collapse early in 1884 led to his incarceration in an asylum and subsequent death. Smetana's reputation as the founding father of Czech music has endured in his native country.