Smetana’s piano sketch Macbeth, also known as Macbeth and the Witches, after William Shakespeare’s tragedy, originated in 1859 while the composer was living in Sweden. Some scholars believe that it was meant to be scored for full orchestra.
The work’s dark and gloomy mood is connected with the death of Smetana’s wife Katharina on 19 April 1859. Macbeth only appeared in print posthumously in 1912. It soon entered the piano repertoire, and in the course of the 20th century it was scored for orchestra by Otakar Jeremiáš and for piano and orchestra by Jarmil Burghauser. Our Urtext edition proceeds from the only surviving source, Smetana’s pencil sketch. The editor has added as little as possible to the musical text in order to faithfully recreate the challenge of performing a sketch. Missing rests and rhythmic ‘anomalies’ have been left as in the autograph.