Overture to "The Bartered Bride"

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Bedřich Smetana

Bedřich Smetana (trans. Donald Patterson)

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General Info

Year: 1866 /
Duration: c. 6:40
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: U.S. Marine Band
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown


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None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The Bartered Bride is a comic opera in three acts by the Czech composer Bedřich Smetana, to a libretto by Karel Sabina. The work is generally regarded as a major contribution towards the development of Czech music. It was composed during the period 1863 to 1866, and first performed at the Provisional Theatre, Prague, on 30 May 1866 in a two-act format with spoken dialogue.

Set in a country village and with realistic characters, it tells the story of how, after a late surprise revelation, true love prevails over the combined efforts of ambitious parents and a scheming marriage broker.

- Program Note from Wikipedia

When Bedřich Smetana began composing his opera The Bartered Bride in 1863, he was just beginning to build his reputation as the father of Czech classical music. The plot of this light-hearted comic opera focuses on life in a typical rural Czech village and two young characters, Jeník and Mařenka, who are in love. Mařenka’s ambitious parents are against the relationship, preferring to “barter” a marriage through the village matchmaker to Vašek, another suitor who just happens to be the son of a wealthy farmer named Mícha. Vašek is stupid, mean, and unattractive, and the heroine is devastated at the prospect of this betrothal. Jeník is bribed by the matchmaker to agree to the marriage of Mařenka and Vašek, but Jeník accedes with the stipulation that Mařenka marries no one but “a son of Mícha,” Vašek’s father. In a plot twist worthy of Gilbert and Sullivan, Jeník reveals that he is also “a son of Mícha,” Vašek’s half-brother from an earlier relationship, and the opera ends happily in celebration of the union of Jeník and Mařenka.

The joy that permeates this opera is evident from the exuberant opening bars of the overture, and the ebullient melodies and murmuring fugal gestures vividly suggest crowded village streets and the gossip of the townspeople.

While many overtures are created as an afterthought following an opera’s completion, this is not the case with the sparkling prelude to The Bartered Bride. Smetana composed the overture before he wrote anything else in the opera and took some of the music to score the Finale to Act II. The first performance of the overture occurred in 1863, a full three years before the opera’s première.

- Program Note from U.S. Marine Band concert program, 3 March 2022


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

  • Vltava (Flex instrumentation) (arr. Ehara) (1874/2014)

All Wind Works