Prague Concert Life, 1850-1881


First musical entertainment given in annual series of 'Musical Garlands' [Vínek hudební / musikalisches Kränzchen]

Aufführungsort: Konvikt

Parent Event:
Musical entertainment given by Sodoma's Sextet

Programmsorte: Art music culture

Datum: 16/10/1858

Programme comprising:

HUMMEL, Jan Nepomuk : unspecified overture, orch
     • Salon Orchestra of Jan Weber: Weber, Jan :
WEBER, Jan : unspecified variations, 2vl, [orch]
     • Weber, Jan : vl Ovalský, Rudolf : vl
UNSPECIFIED, ? : vocal quartet Der Jägers Abschied, 4vv
SOKOLL, ? : vocal quartet Trinklied, male vv
arr. Schubert, F.L.: Kinder-Sinfonie , 7 toy insts, pf arr.
JELEN, Alois : quartet Zastaveníčko (Serenade), male vv
GOTTWALD, Heinrich : Lied ohne Worte Sehnsucht (Longing), hrn, pf
     • Weber, Karl : hrn
SPOHR, Louis : chorus Zur Nacht, male vv
unspecified dance
     • Salon Orchestra of Jan Weber:


 This series of entertainments constituted the first clutch of regular, organized popular public musical events of the 1858-1859 concert season. Such seasonal serial productions during the mid-nineteenth century varied greatly in character. Usually their programmes were geared to popular social entertainment. Soirées produced by profit-seeking impresarios such as those of Heřman Přerhof in 1861, or by social groups such as the Měšťanská beseda (Civic Society), tended to comprise programmes featuring fashionable music of the most popular appeal, such as songs, favourite opera extracts, instrumental items performed by local artists, or dance works or favourite overtures performed by local restaurant or military bands. As the Prague musical environment grew more complex during the course of the 1860s, series of musical entertainments became prevalent in which more substantial works were performed in programmes which more closely resembled full-scale concerts. Examples included soirées organized during 1860-1 by the editor of Dalibor Emanuel Meliš, and the more exclusive and ambitious entertainments of the Umělecká beseda (Artistic Society) established in 1863.

The first series of 1858-1859 ‘Musical Garlands’ was well-advertised in advance in two daily German newspapers. Prager Morgenpost 10/10/1858 published an advertisement noting that this year’s series of ‘musikalische Kränzchen’ [Musical Garlands] were to be held in the Konvikt hall on the Saturdays of 16, 23, 30 October, 6, 13, 20, 27 November and 4, 11 and 18 December. Prager Zeitung 10/10/1858 published the same information, but in a different wording as an item of news in the section Prager und Provinzial-Nachrichten.

The newspaper Bohemia recorded each of these events on the day of its occurrence in the daily diary section Tageskalendar. Aside from the date and venue these diary entries noted the participation at each occasion of the orchestra of Jan Weber. These Tageskalendar entries correspond in their dates with the days previously noted by the Prager Morgenpost and Der Tagesbote articles, except for the final production scheduled for 18 December 1858. The Konvikt Hall on that day held a concert by the piano virtuoso Vilemína Čermáková, and this may well have supplanted the regular ‘garland’ event.

More detailed news of the first in the series of ‘Musical Garlands’ appeared in Bohemia 15/10/1858, in Prager Morgenpost 15/10/1858 and in the Czech periodical Dalibor 21/10/1858. The first noted that the event was to take place the following morning, and proceded to list in detail the programme. Prager Morgenpost 15/15/1858, noting the title of the event and that it would take place tomorrow in the Konvikt Hall, also published the most detailed pre-event account of the programme and listed the pieces in projected order of performance. Excepting the ensemble of Jan Weber the performers were also listed.

The Dalibor review mistakenly stated that the event took place on Sunday 17 October, a date conflicting with the pre-concert information given by each of the aforementioned the German newspaper sources. Thus, the Bohemia Tageskalendar of 17 October contained no indication that the event was changed to be a day later on the Sunday, and in any case the Konvikt Hall was on the Sunday said to be hosting a different event. Similar confusion is apparent in a later report published by Dalibor 28/10/1858 noting later ‘Garlands’ apparently in this series. The occurrence of the second ‘Musical Garland’ on the 23 October seems to be accurate, but the 28/10/1858 text also states that the third production took place on 25 October. No information referring to such an event occuring on 25 October appears in any other source. Therefore the occasion noted by Dalibor, which the periodical also reported as including a performance by the blind pianist J. Nejedlý, was probably referring to the third production in this series which was took place two days after the publication of the periodical, on 30 October.

Despite the probable inaccuracy of Dalibor 21/10/1858 dating the first event, there is no reason to doubt this brief review’s descriptive detail of the event. Obviously invested with a degree of sensationalist appeal, the programme featured the child violinist Rudolf Ovalský. The Dalibor text, signed ‘-tř-’, noted that Ovalský, a pupil of Jan Weber, was only six years old. The critic generously commented that the performance given by the youngster ‘proved his evident talent for the instrument’, and Weber’s orchestra was noted to have ‘held its ground quite bravely.’ Unfortunately, the production was disrupted by certain members of the audience, Dalibor remarking that ‘It was only a pity that the entertainment was disturbed by the unbecoming manners of some fools.’

Zusammenfassung der Quellen:

Prager Zeitung (10/10/1858)
Prager Morgenpost (10/10/1858)
Bohemia (15/10/1858)
Prager Morgenpost (15/10/1858)
Bohemia (16/10/1858)
Dalibor, hudební časopis s měsíční notovou přílohou (21/10/1858)