Prague Concert Life, 1850-1881

Event title:

Concert to celebrate the centenary of the birth of the German poet Schiller

Venue: Žofín Island (Žofín Hall)

Parent Event:
Dance-reunion [Tanzreunion] with music given by Pergler's Orchestra

Event type: Art music culture

Date: 11/11/1859 12 noon

Programme comprising:

General participants:
  • Estates Theatre orchestra: participating institution, orch
  • Prague Conservatory: participating institution, orch, chorus
  • Žofín Academy: participating institution, chorus
  • Cecilia Society: participating institution, orch, chorus
  • unspecified choristers from Prague churches: participating ensemble, vv
SCHUMANN, Robert Alexander : Overture to Schiller's play Die Braut von Messina, orch, op.100
     • Kittl, Jan Bedřich : conductor
MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY, Felix : Festgesang An die Künstler, male vv, brass, op.68
     • Prague Men's Singing Society [Prager Männergesangsverein]: male vv Tauwitz, Eduard : conductor
BEETHOVEN, Ludwig van : Symphony Choral, nr.9, D minor, op.125
     • Kainz-Prausová, Emilie : S Schmidt-Procházková, Josefa : A Bachmann, Eduard : T Eilers, Albert : B Škroup, František Jan : conductor


According to the Dalibor 1/11/1859 announcement, the solo singers in Beethoven’s Symphony were to be Miss Emilie Prausová, Miss Josefa Schmidtová, Eduard Bachmann and Albert Eilers. The report also noted that ‘in this concert will participate almost all the musical forces of Prague.’ Events to mark the anniversary of Schiller’s birth were held in Prague over three days, from 10/11/1859 to 12/11/1859, and gave rise to criticism from patriotic Czech factions within the city. For example, a report published by Dalibor 20/11/1859, interestingly naming the German poet as ‘Bedřich’ Schiller, noted how on the evening of the 10th was held ‘a torchlit procession, at which occasion Prague Germans and worshippers of Schiller demonstrated that they prefer to process on show with torches than to go to the theatre, at which to an empty house Schiller’s Wallenstein was given.’ This text also complained how, despite the goodwill of the Czech papers in announcing the concert on 11/11/1859r, no free tickets were given to them by the German organizing committee.

New of preparations for the Schiller festival appeared in Bohemia 27/10/1859, in an article (p.884) noting that the Men’s Singing Society [Prager Männergesangverein] would be performing in an ‘Academy with song and declamation’, which it was hoped would not clash with a theatre production given at the same time. Two days later the periodical published further news, naming among the committee assembled to arrange the festival the members of the Men’s Singing Society Dr Hess, Mr Becke the book seller, and Dr Tragy, from the Conservatory Dr Ambros, the Cecilia Society Director Apt, Fr. Škroup and the theatre director Thomé. A concert would be arranged for which a Prologue would be written by Karl Egon Ebert and a Festival reading by Joseph Bayer. The festival would end with a banquet in the Žofín Hall. On 30/10/1859 the newspaper then gave more precise details of the concert, reporting that thanks to Count Albert Nostitz the forces of the Conservatory would be made available to participate in the occasion. The programme would comprise the ‘following numbers: Prologue by K.E. Ebert; Overture to Braut von Messina by Schumann, conducted by Director Kittl; Schiller’s poem An die Künstler composed by Mendelssohn, sung by the Men’s Singing Society; Festival reading by Joseph Beyer; 9. Symphonie of Beethoven, conducted by Franz Skraup [František Škroup] (Soli: Miss Prause and Miss Schmidt, Mr Bachmann and Mr Eilers).’ Also taking part would be 80 choirboys. The concert was mentioned again in Bohemia 5/11/1859 in an article listing major concerts of the new concert season, which began on the first monday in November.

A substantial, official announcement of the Schiller concert appeared in the German daily newspapers Bohemia and Prager Morgenpost on 6/11/1859. This stated the date and time of the production in the ‘festively decorated and illuminated’ hall of the Sophia Island, and that participating were the Theatre orchestra [the Estates Theatre] and the Conservatory, the Žofín Academy, the Cecilia Society and the Prague Men’s Singing Society, Misses Prause [Prauseová] and Schmidt as well as Messrs Bachmann and Eilers. Assuming the directorship of the production were to be Kittl, Fr. Škroup and Eduard Tauwitz, and the Orchestra-Director [leader of the Estates Theatre and Conservatory orchestras] Mildner. The text related too that local choir directors were also allowing their choirboys [‘Singknaben’] to participate in the event. Admission would cost 2fl for the gallery and 1fl for the hall and were available from the various societies, from the Prague music shops of Fischer, Hoffmann, Christoph and Kuhé and Robert Veit, and from the bookshops of Messrs Credner, Calve, Erhlich, Mercy, Řivnáč and Scheib. Net profits from the concert were to be given to the Schiller foundation or to good causes associated with the author. The programme of the event was listed in full. In between the three musical works were to be given declamations; a Prologue by K.E. Ebert after the Schumann Overture, and a ‘Festrede’ by Joseph Bayer before the Symphony.

Summary of sources:

Bohemia (27/10/1859)
Dalibor, hudební časopis s měsíční notovou přílohou (01/11/1859)
Prager Morgenpost (06/11/1859)
Bohemia (06/11/1859)
Bohemia (11/11/1859)
Prager Zeitung (11/11/1859)
Dalibor, hudební časopis s měsíční notovou přílohou (20/11/1859)
Bohemia (30/11/1859)