Fibich, Zdenko


A name famous in Bohemia, and in opera this composer ranks next to Smetana in his own country, and in this field won most of his laurels. He was born at Vsebofics, near Czaslau, and first studied music in Vienna and Prague, afterward going to Leipsic to study at the Conservatory under Moscheles, Richter and Jadassohn. There he produced a G minor symphony as well as other compositions. He was attracted to Schumann's works and took them for his model, and produced a dozen compositions in imitation of Manfred. He next went to Paris to pursue his studies further, and also studied at Mannheim under Vincent Lachner. Returning to Prague, he was appointed assistant choirmaster at the National Theatre, and in 1878 director of the Russian Church choir. He conducted there for several years, then devoted himself almost wholly to composition. His first work  was Bukovin and then came Blanik on the same subject as Smetana's. Fibich was, whatever his faults, a most prolific composer, and his works number about seven hundred, or more. Of these, the most important are six melodramas; six operas; Haidee, after Byron's Don Juan; seven symphonic poems; a choral ballad, Die Windsbrant; a Spring Romanza for choir and orchestra; some three hundred pieces for the piano; many songs; duets; and compositions for chorus and orchestra, as well as symphonic poems and overtures. While writing his first opera, Bukovin, he was said to have been influenced to some extent by Weber and Mozart, and has also been accused of imitating Liszt, especially in Othello; Der Lenz; Der Sturm, (after Shakespeare's Tempest), and others. Says Elson: " His overtures, the Lustspiel and Komensky-Fest, with his chamber-music, choral works and orchestral suite are almost enough to establish his reputation for a hard worker." Fibich also wrote a method for piano, and was appointed dramaturgist of the Bohemian National Theatre, at Prague. Of him one critic has this to say: " Fibich's fame has been largely overshadowed by that of Smetana and Dvorak, but in some of his piano music, especially there is much that is full of charm, if not great originality, and a good deal of his music deserves to be better known." His melodramatic trilogy, Hippodamia, which is an ambitious effort, has been specially praised by critics.