Czech music of the 19th and 20th centuries has brought forth major contributions to the international repertoire for string quartet. Not only did Antonín Dvořák produce 14 string quartets, two piano quintets and a string sextet, Bedřich Smetana also added two works to the string quartet repertoire. Leoš Janáček was almost 70 years old when he wrote his First String Quartet (“Kreutzer Sonata”), followed in the final year of his life by the highly emotional Second Quartet (“Intimate Letters”) – one of the jewels of the 20th-century quartet literature. The famous Bohemian String Quartet premièred many works by Czech composers, including the two quartets written by their second violinist, Josef Suk.
Since the 18th century Czech composers have gained a firm place in music history with their works for string quartet, piano trio or other instrumental genres, whether standard or unconventional. They extend from Antonín Rejcha's popular flute quartets to Janáček's string sextet “Mládí” (Youth) and Concertino as well as Bohuslav Martinů's Second Nonet.