Smetana's String Quartet No. 1 ("From My Life", Czech: "Z mého života") in E Minor was written in 1876.
After becoming deaf, Smetana moved in 1876 from Prague to Jabkenice. He still hoped that the handicap would not be permanent. In the autumn of that year, he began to compose a new work. It was to be his intimate confession, a work depicting the course of his life, "... using four instruments speaking among themselves in something like a friendly circle".
The work is semi-autobiographical and consists of sketches of periods from Smetana's life, as is suggested by its subtitle Z mého života ("From My Life"). Its notable features include a prominent viola solo at the very beginning of the first movement, and a high, sustained harmonic E on the first violin in the last movement, which represents the ringing in his ears that presaged Smetana's deafness, although the actual ringing was a chord in A-flat major.