A major factor in the evolution of Czech vocal music in the 17th and 18th centuries were the church choirs of the countryside and the sacred music of regional composers. Today the music of Jan Dismas Zelenka, a baroque composer active in Dresden, has attracted extraordinary attention. Cantatas and oratorios form a large part of Antonín Dvořák's œuvre: his “Stabat mater”, the Requiem (premièred in Birmingham) and the oratorio “St Ludmila” (composed for the Leeds Festival on a subject from ancient Czech history) place him alongside his great European contemporaries in this genre. Leoš Janáček's a cappella choruses and works for voices and orchestra (“Glagolithic Mass”, the cantata “Amarus” and “The Eternal Gospel”) are important examples of Czech choral music in the 20th century, as are the “Gilgamesh Epic” and “Field Mass” by Bohuslav Martinů.
The art song emerged in Czech music with the flowering of its poetry in the 19th century. Smetana, Dvořák and Martinů have all made exceptional contributions to this genre.