Prague Concert Life, 1850-1881


Concert given by J. Pisařovic

Aufführungsort: Hotel Archduke Stefan

Programmsorte: Art music culture

Datum: 31/01/1851 5pm

Spielzeit: Carnival

Programme including:

  • PISAŘOVIC, Julius: soloist, cl
MÜLLER, ? : Variations [Variée] on Beethoven's Lied Adelaide, cl, pf
SEEMANN, ? : unspecified salon work, cl, [pf]
     • Pisařovic, Julius : cl
WEBER, Carl Maria von : Grand duo concertant, cl, pf, J204
     • Pisařovic, Julius : cl Mason, William : pf
AMBROS, August Wilhelm : unspecified song, v, pf
     • Botschon-Soukupová, Cecilie : v
MEYERBEER, Giacomo : song Komm! du schönes Fischermädchen, v, pf
     • Botschon-Soukupová, Cecilie : v
DREYSCHOCK, Alexander : Rhapsodie Zum Wintermärchen, pf, op.40
     • Mason, William : pf
CHERUBINI, Luigi : unspecified partsong, 4 male vv
     • Emminger, Josef : v Maýr, Jan Nepomuk : v Kunz, Eduard : v Strakatý, Karel : v
KREUTZER, ? probably Conradin : unspecified partsong, 4 male vv
     • Emminger, Josef : v Maýr, Jan Nepomuk : v Kunz, Eduard : v Strakatý, Karel : v


Advance news of the intention of Pisařowic [Pisařovic] to arrange a public concert at the latter part of the Carnival season appeared in Bohemia 12/1/1851. He was described as being one of the leading performers of this ‘beautiful but awkward instrument [the clarinet]’; the concert could therefore be expected to be ‘magnificent’ [glänzend]. Subsequent detailed information about the event was published by Bohemia 28/1/1851. This reported the date and venue of the concert, and that the concert-giver would perform in addition to interesting works for clarinet also Beethoven’s song Adelaide. Other solo participants were listed, including the pupil of Alexander Dreyschock, Mr Mason ‘from Boston’. Prager Zeitung 30/1/1851 briefly noted that ‘Our meritorious Pisařowitz, surely one of the most excellent living clarinettists, arranges a concert on Friday at 5pm in the Hall of Archduke Stephan’. The report recommended the concert to all friends of music.

The Tagesanzeiger texts of Bohemia 30/1/1851 and 31/1/1851 reported the date and venue of this event.

A review, signed ‘V.’, of this concert was published by Bohemia 2/2/1851. This began with an account of the Estates Theatre orchestra, noting how it was a well-known fact that this ensemble, ‘the strong playing foundation of our opera’, had a tradition of ‘precision, purity and energy of ensemble’ through its low turnover of constituent players. Although ‘only the principal instrumentalist parts are mostly of artists of the first rank’, positions in the orchestra passed down through families and relations, thus contributing to the unity of ensemble. Pisařowitz [Pisařovic] was regarded as one of those leading artists, and his appearing in Prague concerts as a soloist was deemed to be very welcome. Known as ‘an excellent artist ... His clarinet is [like] a singer whose tone is as pithy and full as it is delicate and sympathetic, whose technical virtuosity is just as sublime as his artistic playing. Of his concert the correspondent was only mildly critical on one point - and this was conceded to be a subjective judgement - that the ‘Variée’ on Beethoven’s Adelaide did not utilize the song in its entirity as written by the composer. However, the work was enthusiastically received and Pisařovic was several times [curtain-]called. He then gave an unspecified salon composition by Seemann and the ‘highly poetic chamber work “Grand Duo” for piano (Mr Mason) and clarinet by C.M. Weber.’ The singer Botschon-Soukup [Botschon-Soukupová] performed a ‘charming’ song by Ambros and Meyerbeer’s Fischermädchen, a ‘truly coquettish yet deucedly grateful composition’, and was received with great applause. The pianist Mr Mason chose for his [Prague] debut ‘the exceedingly difficult, calculated for a pianist of great technical perfection and artistic mastery’ Rhapsody zum Wintermärchen. This work was reported to be well known from Dreyschock’s own performances, with those given by other pianists not rivalling the composer. However, Mason was noted to have played the work with success. After reporting that the performances of vocal quartets by Cherubini and Kreutzer were ‘beautiful’ and the four singers were [curtain-]called, the review commented upon the locality and the participating audience. The effectiveness of the former as a concert venue was evidently thought to be compromised by its lack of a podium in the small salon, which resulted in the instrumental sound sometimes being too strong. The audience was as ‘numerous as it was refined.’

A review of the concert, signed ‘Obolus’, was published by Prager Zeitung 2/1/1851. After naming the works given and the performers, the correspondent focussed upon the soloist Pisařowitz [Pisařovic]. ‘That Mr Pisařowitz would obtain unanimous approbation for his soulful tone, the untarnished flawlessness of his passagework and accuracy of his performance, was certainly to be expected - and indeed happened. Even so, the reviewer must confess that the concert did not fully live up to expectations. The critic was most disturbed by the number “Adelaide”. What? Beethoven’s wonderful Adelaide performed by Pisařowitz could disturb the critic?? Yes, my dear reader, if this had been Beethoven’s true Adelaide we had heard! But Mr Müller was so bold to vary, alter, to pastiche Beethoven’s holy melodies. I would like to advise Mr Müller to choose another less sacred work when he feels like violating a piece with trills, chromatic runs and other exercises, for example some song - But stop! I do not wsh to offend anyone, particularly in such a case where the composer, even if he is not Beethoven or Mozart, has the right to take legal procedings agains such a spoof of “murdered melody [obgemordeter Melodie]”. If, nevertheless, Mr Pisařowitz was applauded for the performance ... I would like to presume for the sake of the honour of the audience, that this applied to his virtuosity.’

Of the remainder of the programme the Prager Zeitung critic veered between outright condemnation and enthusiastic praise. The two quartets for male voices were noted to have ‘gained only moderate applause.’ They were thought to be insignificant works, ‘their melodies are not fitting to be touched upon.’ Much was expected from the pianist Mr Mason. In his performance of Dreyschock’s Wintermärchen, ‘which we have already heard played by the master himself [Dreyschock] with the highest admiration, Mason showed ‘a lot of bravery, notably in the octave passages in G minor. Yet he highlighted the contrasts of dark and light far too little. The Duo by Weber, played together with Pisařowitz, he mastered far better. “Carl Maria”, the romanticist par excellence, would have taken pleasure in how brilliantly this poetic piece was performed by the two artists. I must especially express my fullest admiration for the passages of parallel thirds that were performed at the highest speed. Both artists were honoured with vivid applause.’ The critic then covered the performance of Mrs Botschon [Botschon-Soukupová]. Although the singer was noted to have only ‘
partially recovered from a serious influenza, the popular artiste succeeded not only in gaining applause and curtain-callsm but more importantly managed to touch [the hearts of] the audience. Her good choice of repertoire (a quality that cannot be rated sufficiently highly), her opulent tone and the fitting performance were equally responsible for this. Following the item by Ambros ... which is distinguished in both its melody and poetical conception, as well as following the song by Meyerbeer that must be praised as a salon piece of the highest rank, the artiste was recalled to the stage whereupon she encored the latter composition.’ Finally, the correspondent related that the hall was very full and that many of the music lovers present who were discouraged to visit the local opera through the ‘continuing misery over the prima donna’ taking place there, would have felt doubly pleased to be able ‘once more to hear a proper soprano.’                                                                         

The database programme record derives from information contained in both the specified Bohemia and Prager Zeitung reviews. The order of performance of these works cannot be ascertained.

Zusammenfassung der Quellen:

Bohemia, ein Unterhaltungsblatt (12/01/1851)
Bohemia, ein Unterhaltungsblatt (28/01/1851)
Prager Zeitung (30/01/1851)
Bohemia (30/01/1851)
Bohemia, ein Unterhaltungsblatt (31/01/1851)
Bohemia, ein Unterhaltungsblatt (02/02/1851)
Prager Zeitung (02/02/1851)