Smetana Quartet

The Smetana Quartet (Czech: Smetanovo kvarteto) was a Czech string quartet that was in existence from 1945 to 1989.[1]


1st violin

2nd violin



Origins and activitiesEdit

The Smetana Quartet arose from the Quartet of the Czech Conservatory, which was founded in 1943 (during the Nazi occupation) in Prague by Antonín Kohout, the cellist. With Jaroslav Rybenský and Lubomír Kostecký as first and second violins, and Václav Neumann as violist, the group gave its first performance as the Smetana Quartet on 6 November 1945, at the Municipal Library in Prague. Neumann left to pursue conducting in 1947, at which point Rybenský went to the viola desk and Jiří Novák (who shared first violin desk with Josef Vlach, founder of the Vlach Quartet, under Vaclav Talich in the Czech Chamber Orchestra) came in as first violin.[2]

By 1949 the group had official connections with the Czech Philharmonic. The first foreign tour was in 1949, to Poland, and the first recording was of a quartet by Bedřich Smetana in 1950. Rybenský was obliged to retire after ill health in 1952, and was replaced by Milan Škampa. The performers were appointed professors at the Academy of Musical Arts in 1967. Of their many recordings, those made at that time for German Electrola are considered particularly fine.[3]

For many years this group, which has been called the finest Czech quartet of its time, played the Czech repertoire from memory, giving these works a special intensity and intimacy.[4]

The Smetana Quartet made the third commercial digital recording ever made, Mozart's K.421 and K.458, in Tokyo April 24–26, 1972. They rerecorded the same repertoire ten years later in Prague.

Antonín Kohout trained the Kocian Quartet (founded 1972)[5] and the Martinů Quartet (1976),[6] though the latter's members had been pupils of Professor Viktor Moučka, cellist of the Vlach Quartet.

External linksEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. ^ Some information, personnel, and a review of their recording of late Beethoven Quartets may be read in Jindrich Balek, 'The Smetana Quartet: Ludwig van Beethoven', Czech Music, October 2006, see [1].
  2. ^ A DVD incorporating a 1-hour documentary about the Smetana Quartet by Jaromil Jires has been issued by Supraphon, in 2004, item SU 7004.
  3. ^ Information in this section derived from article by Bruce Eder, Allmusic: see [2].
  4. ^ R. Stowell, The Cambridge Companion to the String Quartet (C.U.P. 2003), p. 64-65: with photograph [3].
  5. ^ Kocian Quartet webpage [4].
  6. ^ Martinů Quartet webpage "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-06-02. Retrieved 2008-11-12.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link).
  • Vladimír Šefl, Smetanovo Kvarteto (Supraphon, 1974)
  • Jirǐ Berkovec, The Smetana Quartet (Orbis 1956)