Prague Concert Life, 1850-1881

Event title:

First annual Cecilia Society concert

Venue: Žofín Island (Žofín Hall)

Event type: Art music culture

Date: 20/11/1859 12 noon

Programme comprising, part 1:

General participants:
  • Cecilia Society: participating institution, vv, orch
  • APT, Antonín: director of institute, conductor
BACH, Johann Sebastian : Overture to Orchestral Suite [no.3], D major, BWV1068
arr. Meyerbeer, Giacomo: Recitative and aria from Handel's opera Rinaldo , v, orch [arr.]
     • Miková-Bennewitzová, Emilie : v

Part 2:

SCHUMANN, Robert Alexander : incidental music to Byron's drama Manfred, solo vv, chorus, orch, op.115
     • Miková-Bennewitzová, Emilie : S Schmidt-Procházková, Josefa : A Eilers, Albert : B Freyová, ? : Fischer, ? : Bergmann, ? : Walter, ? :


News of the complete programme of this first annual concert to be given by the Cecilia Society first appeared almost identical notices appearing in Bohemia and Prager Morgenpost 17/11/1859, and in Prager Zeitung 18/11/1859. The only difference between these texts was the inclusion of an additional sentence into the two latter noting that a limited number of subscriptions could be purchased for all four Cecilia Society concerts of the season from the music shop of Jakob Fischer. Large advertisements for the concert were published in Prager Morgenpost on 18/11/1859and 19/11/1859 in which the date, time, venue, programme and subscription details were announced.

The date of this concert was not specified by either the Dalibor 1/12/1859 review or the brief report published by Dalibor 20/10/1859. This earlier text simply noted the intention of the Society to perform Schumann’s Manfred music in their first concert of the new season, remarking too that throughout the year the Society would ‘as usual perform only German works.’ The subsequent Dalibor review enthused about most aspects of the concert, initially stating that ‘the first concert of the Cecilia Society... was distinguished, as are usually all its concerts, by an excellent, and for the local audience interesting, choice of works.’ The Overture by Bach, erroneously described by the review text as from the composer’s fourth Suite whereas the German sources Prager Morgenpost and Prager Zeitung specified that it was from the third of the four orchestral suites, was considered to be ‘ingenious and skilfully contrived with individual orchestration, in which all the strength rests „na bedrách“ (on the bed-rock) of the string quartet. This work was, until certain wrong touches by some violinists, excellently performed.’ The extract from Rinaldo was considered to be a ‘moving and individual composition, and not lacking in good effect.’ Meyerbeer’s arrangement imbued the work with a ‘semblance of something modern.’ Schumann’s Manfred music was thought by the Dalibor critic to represent ‘the summit of the whole entertainment.’ Following a brief biography of the composer and a short descriptive commentary of the work, the reviewer noted that ‘The composition is distinguished with expressive characteristics, spirited ideas and particular originality. The performance was accurate under the direction of Mr Apt.’ Between the various numbers of the incidental music Byron’s poem was declaimed by Mrs Freyová, Bergmann, Fischer and Walter.

Extensive reviews of the concert were published by each of the major German daily newspapers. The play was arranged for concer performance by Joseph Bayer. Originally Karel Strakatý was announced as a participant in the performance of Manfred, but his place was obviously taken by Eilers, whose name appears instead of Strakatý in the review texts.

Summary of sources:

Dalibor, hudební časopis s měsíční notovou přílohou (20/10/1859)
Bohemia (17/11/1859)
Prager Morgenpost (17/11/1859)
Prager Zeitung (18/11/1859)
Prager Morgenpost (21/11/1859)
Bohemia (21/11/1859)
Prager Zeitung (22/11/1859)
Dalibor, hudební časopis s měsíční notovou přílohou (01/12/1859)