Prague Concert Life, 1850-1881

Event title:

Concert given by pianist Leopold Lion

Venue: Konvikt

Event type: Art music culture

Date: 29/11/1863 12noon

Season: Advent

Programme comprising:

General participants:
  • LION, Leopold: soloist, pf
  • MILDNER, Mořic: soloist, vl
  • WEBER, Jan: soloist, vl
  • WITTICH, ?: soloist, va
  • WAGNER, Mořic: soloist, vc
LION, Leopold : Piano Trio, pf, vl, vc, D minor, op.32
CHOPIN, Fryderyck Franciszek : Nocturne, pf, nr.5, F-sharp major, op.15/2
BACH, Johann Sebastian : unspecified Gavotte, keyboard, D minor
MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY, Felix : song Das ertse Veilchen no.2 from 6 songs [Sechs Gesänge], v, pf, nr.2, F major, op.19/2
     • Bachmann, Eduard : v
SCHUBERT, Franz Peter : song Ungeduld no.7 from song cycle Die schöne Müllerin, v, pf, D795
     • Bachmann, Eduard : v
ISOUARD, Nicolò : aria unspecified, from opera Le billet de loterie [Lotterieloes], v, orch [/pf]
     • Brenner, Johanna : v
SCHUMANN, Robert Alexander : Piano Quartet, pf, vl, va, vc, E-flat major, op.47
LION, Leopold : Nocturne, pf
LION, Leopold : piano work Les Cloches du matin, pf
LION, Leopold : waltz Valse brilliant, pf


News of a forthcoming concert to be given in Prague by Leopold Lion was published by Prager Morgenpost 25/11/1863. The brief, unsigned, report related: ‘Mr Leo Lion, Professor of Piano at the Berlin Academy of Music, a native of Prague, whose reputation precedes hi, tarries in Prague, and will on Sunday arrange a concert.’ The Tagesanzeiger daily almanac of Prague social and musical events published by Prager Morgenpost 29/11/1863 announced: ‘Concert of the pianist Mr Leo Lion in Konvikt Hall (12 noon).’

A substantial, unsigned, review of the concert appeared in Prager Morgenpost 1/12/1863. The correspondent related: ‘Concert. Yesterday lunchtime in the Konvikt Hall the long-awaited concert of Mr Leo Lion, who holds the sublime title of „Professor of piano playing“ at the Academy of Music in Berlin, took place before an unusually large and select audience. The playing of this performer, while not especially gifted or brilliant, is musically accomplished and solid, and indicative of a good school. As concerns technical accomplishment, nothing is lacking; however, a little more suppleness would be well to his advantage. His performance was particularly appealing in its effect in the piano and pianissimo passages, and fits closely throughout with the intentions of the composers; however, it loses clarity of expression in those sections that call for strength and energy. In all of the passages marked fortissimo, the overall impression is rather of the manner of a habituated, competent player who nevertheless lacks any faculty of reflection and is thus unable to win himself over to the listener. Such deficiencies, however, can be very easily remedied if Mr Leon, rather than speculating on the superficial effect of a powerful attack, devotes himself instead to performing with mature deliberation, self-aware and free of all attempts at originality, concentrating directly on reaching the heart of the listener. The success of such a comportment, once the serious intention has been undertaken, is scarcely to be doubted. And through the diminishing of the less advantageous or praiseworthy side of this seemingly minor – but nevertheless in fact highly-trained virtuoso – the overall impression given by his, as previously stated, genuinely solid and attractive playing, will of course be substantially greater and those aspects of his playing that are naturally best will come even further into the foreground. The most interesting numbers of the concert were, as anybody could have perceived from an initial overview, Schumann’s magnificent Quartet in E flat (for piano and string quartet), in which composition Mr Lion demonstrated not only his well-trained technique but also an entirely unique, calm thoughtfulness, that never allowed a deviation from the clear, intelligent and truly artistic comprehension of Schumann’s requirements – at any rate a quality that cannot be praised highly enough. As concerns Mr Lion’s own compositions, of those that he played here the first prize must go to the large Trio in D minor, labelled Op. 32, for piano, violin and ’cello, with which the concert began. It has form and a content created out of a fairly rich repository of fantasy. The three compositions for solo piano that ended the concert—a Nocturne, Les cloches au matin and a Valse brilliant titled Souvenir de Vienne, are also highly successful works. We also heard Chopin’s charming Nocturne in F sharp major and the excellent Gavotte in D minor by Johann Sebastian Bach. Mr Lion was given fine support on the vocal side by Mr Bachmann, who performed Das erste Veilchen by Mendelssohn and Schubert’s Ungeduld with outstanding insight; and by Miss Jenny Brenner, who gave us an aria that assumed great fluency in the throat from Isouard’s opera Das Loterieloos. The string players Messrs Mildner, Wagner, Weber and Wittich showed themselves to advantage, and together with Mr Bachmann and Miss Brenner shared in the applause that was given without reservation to the soloist at various points.

The order of the programme cannot be identified from the Prager Morgenpost review, except for the first number being Lion’s Piano Trio and the last three numbers his own solo piano works. The database record of the programme suggests that the concert would have been in two parts (as was often the case at that time), possibly with the second part commencing with the Schumann Piano Quartet as the first part began with the Trio. The string players participating were: Mořic Mildner, then leader of the Estates Theatre orchestra; Mořic Wagner, principal ’cellist of the Estates Theatre orchestra; Jan Weber, violinist in the Estates Theatre orchestra; Wittich, viola player in the Estates Theatre orchestra. 

Summary of sources:

Prager Morgenpost (24/11/1863)
Prager Morgenpost (29/11/1863)
Prager Morgenpost (01/12/1863)