Prague Concert Life, 1850-1881

Název události:

First evening entertainment given by the Prague Men’s Singing Society [Männergesangverein]

Místo konání: Konvikt

Typ akce: Art music culture

Datum: 21/05/1859 7pm

Sézona: Summer

Programme comprising, part 1:

  • Prague Men's Singing Society [Prager Männergesangsverein]: participating institution, male vv
MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY, Felix : chorus Der frohe Wandersmann no.1 of 4 partsongs Wandersmann, male vv chorus, op.75
KREUTZER, Conradin : partsong Die Märznacht, v, pf
MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY, Felix : unspecified song [Lied] Suleika, v, pf
ABT, Franz Wilhelm : partsong Beim Liebchen ist's schön, male vv
JELEN, Alois : chorus Vše jen ku chvále vlasti a krále (All only in praise of country and King), male vv

Part 2:

KUHLAU, Friedrich : partsong Abendlied (Unter allen Wipfeln ist Ruh), male vv
VEIT, Wenzel Heinrich : chorus Der Käfer und die Blume, male vv
TOMÁŠEK, Václav Jan Křtitel : song no.3 of 3 songs [Drei Gesänge] Des Vaters Tod, v, pf, op.68
VOGL, František Arnold : chorus Vltava, male vv
KREUTZER, Conradin : partsong Die Kapelle, male vv
REIßIGER, Karl : song Blücher am Rhein, v, pf, op.57
MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY, Felix : unspecified Abschiedslied


News of the process of the organization of a Prager Männergesangverein [Prague Mens’ Singing Society] appeared in Prague newspapers from late 1858 onwards. Detailed advance information about this, the first public concert given by the society, was published by Bohemia 18/5/1859 and 21/5/1859 and by Prager Morgenpost 20/5/1859. The last of these texts noted that the Prager Männergesangverein was performing ‘for its contributing and founding members an evening entertainment, the programme of which ... promises a very highly pleasurable evening.’ Although apparently arranged for its constitutent Society members, there is little doubt that the event was also open to the general public given that one subsequent review of the occasion noted that the Konvikt Hall was full and that subsequent Männergesangverein events were almost always public performances.

The programme of this event was published complete in both Bohemia and Prager Morgenpost on 21/5/1859.

A brief outline of the success of this event was published by Bohemia 25/5/1859. This recorded that the performances of the work by Reißiger and the ‘poignant farewell Song by Mendelssohn’ were particularly impressive and ‘inspired in each listener the wish to soon partake in such an evening entertainment again.’ A substantial review was published by Prager Morgenpost 22/5/1859. This enthused over nearly every aspect of the event, exclaiming how it was good to hear an effective ensemble of ‘sturdy male voices in the most perfect nuance and harmony’. The achievement of the choir was considered such as to give no indication of their being a dilettante ensemble but rather that they assumed the mantle of ‘magnificently trained choral singers.’ The actual programme of works given constituted an ‘excellent choice’, with ‘piety and respect also containing native compositions, namely containing the two Czech choruses: Vše jen ku chvále of Jelen and Vltava of Vogl, a song “Des Vaters Tod” of Tomášek and Veit’s prizewinning “Der Käfer und die Blume”.’ Reißiger’s “Blücher am Rhein” was held to be extremely topical [to current events, possibly referring indirectly to the major loss of lands previously held by Austria through the Peace of Zurich on 10/11/1859 after a year of unsuccessful major military campaigns and battles], and had to be repeated. From the opening work, the choral by Rückhart, the depth of expression and the secure intonation of the inner parts satisfied the reviewer that the choir of 30 voices need not be afraid of comparison with many other ensembles. Responsibility too for the ‘glittering success’ of the occasion was due to the conductor Tauwitz, who was described as both ‘magnificent’ and ‘modest’. Finally, the critic observed how the acoustic of the full Konvikt Hall was ‘well-suited’ to such a vocal production.

A shorter although similarly enthusiastic review was published by Prager Zeitung 26/5/1859. The unsigned critic reported that he could not remember for a long time there having been such a performance of such precision and nuance. Of the participants it was noted that many had had ‘worthy preparation’ through their being members of the Cecilia Society. In works in which the range of the voices spanned a high tenor B to a low bass D the sound of the whole choir was deemed to be harmonious. Great credit was due to the appointment as director of the ensemble Tauwitz. All the works performed gained applause, in particular the chorus by Reißiger which reflected on ‘current political cicumstances’.

Pre-concert information appearing in the Czech source Dalibor about this Männergesangverein programme was limited to a brief report published on 20/5/1859. This remarked only that the concert would consist ‘entirely’ of performances of German choruses. However, the post-concert report published in Dalibor 1/6/1859 seemingly with a touch of sarcasm remarked that ‘Performed were 7 German and 2 Czech choruses. Plesej vlasti! (Rejoice in the Fatherland!)’. The concert may also have been the subject of a note appearing in Dalibor 10/5/1859 which stated simply that the ‘local men’s singing society is arranging with the orchestra of the Estates Theatre a concert to benefit soldiers wounded in battle.’

Přehled zdrojů:

Dalibor, hudební časopis s měsíční notovou přílohou (10/05/1859)
Bohemia (18/05/1859)
Dalibor, hudební časopis s měsíční notovou přílohou (20/05/1859)
Prager Morgenpost (20/05/1859)
Bohemia (21/05/1859)
Bohemia (21/05/1859)
Prager Morgenpost (21/05/1859)
Prager Morgenpost (22/05/1859)
Bohemia (25/05/1859)
Prager Zeitung (26/05/1859)
Dalibor, hudební časopis s měsíční notovou přílohou (01/06/1859)