Prague Concert Life, 1850-1881

Event title:

Second and final concert given by pianist Alexander Dreyschock

Venue: Estates Theatre

Event type: Art music culture

Date: 04/04/1857

Season: Lent

Programme comprising:

General participants:
  • Estates Theatre orchestra: participating orchestra
  • DREYSCHOCK, Alexander: soloist, pf
LISZT, Franz : Symphonic poem Les Préludes, orch, S97
WEBER, Carl Maria von : Koncertstück for piano and orchestra, pf, orch, F-sharp minor, J282
ROSSINI, Gioachino Antonio : aria unspecified, from opera Semiramide, v, orch
     • Acs, ? : v
BEETHOVEN, Ludwig van : Sonata for pianoforte, pf, nr.7, D major, op.10/3
DREYSCHOCK, Alexander : unspecified Romanze for piano, pf
MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY, Felix : unspecified song Frühlingslied, v, pf
     • Lukes, Jan Ludevít : v
DREYSCHOCK, Alexander : piano piece [Klavirstück] Invitation à la Polka, pf, op.73
DREYSCHOCK, Alexander : Variations for piano left hand on English National Anthem God save the Queen, pf, op.129


Tagesbote aus Böhmen 2/4/1857 reported how the success of a concert given by Dreyschock in the Estates Theatre on 30/3/1857 had prompted the management of the Theatre to arrange a further concert with the pianist on the next-but-one Saturday [4/4/1857]. The newspaper related: ‘The brilliant success in every sense, of the concert that Dreyschock gave last Monday in the Theatre, has prompted the Directorate to propose to him a second, to take place on the next-but-one Saturday [‘ein zweites zu nächsten Samstag stattsind wird’]. Interest in this evening, already so vividly excited by Dreyschock himself, will only be increased in that, upon Dreyschock’s suggestion will be performed as a novelty in this Saturday concert „Préludes“, generally considered to be the best of his „Symfonischen Dichtungen“.’

Tagesbote aus Böhmen 4/4/1857 then published a theatre bill with full details of the proposed concert: ‘Royal Estates Theatre in Prague. Saturday 4th April 1857. (Subscriptions suspended). Second and last Concert of Mr Alexander Dreyschock. 1. Les Préludes, symphonic poem by Franz Liszt. 2. By popular request: Concertstück by C.M. Weber, performed by the concert-giver. 3 Aria from
„Semiramis“ by Rossini, sung by Miss Sarolta Acs. 4.a) First movement from Sonata op.10 by L. Beethoven, performed by the concert-giver b) Romanze by A. Dreyschock, concert-giver. 5. Frühlingslied by Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, performed by Mr Lukes. 6.a) Invitation à la Polka, composed and performed by the concert-giver. b) Variations on the English Anthem for the left hand, composed and performed by the concert-giver.’ The bill then noted that preceeding the concert would be a performance of the 1-act comedy play Ein Hut.

A detailed review, signed ‘-h.’, of this event was published by Tagesbote aus Böhmen 5/4/1857. The correspondent related: ‘Yesterday’s second concert by Alexander Dreyschock in the [Estates] Theatre brought together, were it possible, even more dazzling bravura pieces than did the first. Weber’s Concertstück received all-round admiration and the imposing march tempo in C aroused a storm as ever, one that could only be calmed by a repeat performance of this wondrous tour de force. The following movement received the same admiration for the contrast with which the fingers first, with iron force, allowed a solo instrument to overwhelm the mass of an entire orchestra, then breathed a pianissimo as soft and dulcet as rose petals. Next Dreyschock played the first movement of the sonata in D op.10 by Beethoven and his [own] interesting Romanze in E with its distinctive round and full rolling arpeggios and softly-sounding melody, and responded to the enthusiastic curtain calls that this elicited with Mendelssohn’s Frühlingslied in A major. His last double number was the popular
Invitation to the Polka and finally the non plus ultra of his peerless technique: the Variations for the left hand, a performance remarkable for each of the steadiness with which he followed the theme, the clarity of the polyphony and the sheer endurance. This time, again, the applause bestowed on the artist was accompanied by floral garlands. The intermediate numbers consisted of an aria from Semiramis [Semiramide] that was far too long for the occasion, sung by Miss Acs, and Mendelssohn’s Frühlingslied in A (Der Frühling naht) whose sensitive performance by Mr Lukes was so well received that he added Esser’s Abschied as an encore.

The much-anticipated opening of the concert was Liszt’s
„Symphonic Poem Les Préludes. Noteworthy was the fact that the Wagner city [‘Wagnerstadt’ – undoubtedly referring here to Prague] abandoned blatantly the patrons and apostles of the Zürich exile and received [Liszt’s] Préludes with a disapproval that in fact went beyond the bounds of fairness into the realms of prejudice. We do not mean by this to excuse Liszt but wish only to indicate an inconsistency in yesterday’s pronouncement by the educated musical audience of Prague, in that much of what was rejected yesterday has previously been applauded in Berlioz and Wagner. For the orchestration in Liszt’s Préludes can be attributed to the former and the enhancement of the larger motifs and the boldness of the harmonization can be attributed to the latter. In the last point, however, Liszt goes into excess so glaringly that he becomes a parody of Wagner; his eccentricity appears as a tout prix affected, and he too deliberately chases after the most unbecoming. The idea of his Préludes is given a commentary, as it were, in a meditation of the same title by Lamartine, according to which all suffering and happiness in earthly life appears to the poet as merely the prologue to a higher and purer harmony. Thus the mystical introduction in C that grows out of broken pizzicato unfolds as, if you will, the mysterious veil that stands before us, between our world and the other world. This section is relatively the best; it is shows little delicateness in the instrumental colouring, clear and well brought to climax, even though the ideas are never allowed to reach their expressive completion, being always only half-developed and then thrown away. The last section has the heavily orchestrated a la Marcia whose emergence from the mystical atmosphere of the whole cannot be well motivated. The allegro evidently moves in the heterogeneous conditions of earthly life; it brings a savage struggle, then a peaceful idyll, a very broadly drawn, swaying motif, overrun however by individual, pointless instrumental details, and then again a grappling – out of which Wagner speaks most unmistakably of all – until finally the pompous motif in C mentioned above brings the bizarre rhapsody to its conclusion. The performance of this novelty by the [Estates] Theatre orchestra was outstanding despite the difficulties it presented.’

Summary of sources:

Tagesbote aus Böhmen (02/04/1857)
Tagesbote aus Böhmen (04/04/1857)
Tagesbote aus Böhmen (05/04/1857)