Prague Concert Life, 1850-1881

Event title:

Concert given by pianist Serafína Vrabély

Venue: Konvikt

Event type: Art music culture

Date: 11/12/1859 12noon

Season: Advent

Programme comprising:

General participants:
  • VRABÉLÝ, Seraphine: soloist, pf
BEETHOVEN, Ludwig van : Sonata for violin and piano, vl, pf, G major, op.30/3
     • Mildner, Mořic : vl Vrabélý, Seraphine : pf
MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY, Felix : song O Jugend, o schöne Rosenzeit no.4 from 6 songs [6 Lieder], v, pf, op.57
     • Fektér, Franz : v
Hungarian folksong Ez a világ (The Earth is vast), v
     • Brenner, Johanna : v
HANDEL, George Frideric : Allegro and variations on a passacaglia [from unspecified keyboard suite], pf
LISZT, Franz : Consolation unspecified, from 6 Consolations, pf, S172
SCHUMANN, Robert Alexander : no.7 from Novelletten, pf, E major, op.21
RUBINSTEIN, Anton Grigor'yevitch : song Asra no.6 from 12 Persian songs, v, pf, op.35
     • Fektér, Franz : v
DREYSCHOCK, Alexander : piano piece Schlummerlied, pf, op.121
CHOPIN, Fryderyck Franciszek : unspecified waltz, pf, A-flat major


Prager Morgenpost 8/12/1859 first published a listing of the programme of this concert given by the visiting Hungarian pianist Miss Vrabélý in projected performance order. A similar listing, but with varying descriptive details of the works being given (also in the same performance order), was reported by Bohemia 10/12/1859. The time and venue of the event was listed too in the Tageskalender of Bohemia 11/12/1859. Prager Zeitung did not list the programme in advance of the concert and first reported the event on 10/12/1859, noting only that ‘The pianist Miss Seraphine Vrabélý will on Saturday the 11th December in the Konvikt Hall give a concert with the participation of Miss Brenner and Messrs Fektér and Mildner.’

Extended and unanimously positive reviews of the concert were forthcoming from the German daily newspapers. The critic of Prager Morgenpost 12/12/1859 described how this ‘very charming and distinguished pianist,’ who already in a recent concert had captured the attention through her virtuoso playing, had given yesterday a musical matinée that enabled a closer insight into her ‘interesting artistic personality’. Already Vrabélý was thus deemed to have demonstrated the ‘beautiful characteristic of a brilliant technique’ but her latest performance was considered by the reviewer all the more impressive in that nowhere was her ‘so eminent finger-dexeterity [so eminente Fingerfertigkeit] an end in itself... unlike ... so many of her colleagues in art. This showed itself immediately through the pure choice of concert programme. She began with Beethoven’s Sonata (op.30 no.3) for piano and violin, in which Professor Mildner with mature mastery executed the violin part. Here it was already noticable... the striking perception [of the work], the veracity to the essential style, the accurate and spirited performance... If anything, even more excellent was her versatile comprehension and elegance of execution in the diverse genres of the following solo numbers.’ The pieces by Handel, Liszt and Schumann’s ‘witty’ Novellette each received an ‘altogether felicitous performance.’ Each work was performed as ‘an interesting character-piece’, and the same was true of the last two items in the concert in which in addition ‘naturally more bravura playing prevailed.’ After stormy applause from the audience she performed an unspecified transcription of the Hungarian folksong Ez a világ that had been sung by Miss Brenner earlier in the concert, and which Miss Vrabélý had accompanied. The song on general demand had had to be encored. The review reported that Fektér received ‘honourable acknowledgment’ for his performance of the compositions by Mendelssohn and Rubinstein. The concert was ‘well attended.’

Reviews were published too in Bohemia 13/12/1859 and Prager Zeitung 14/12/1859.

Dalibor 20/12/1859 also published an enthusiastic although shorter account of this concert. The event ‘accorded us the opportunity to laudably mention this talented and comely [sličné] pianist. She played with Prof. Mildner a sonata for violin and piano (op.30) by Beethoven very freshly, an allegro and variations by Handel, a Consolation by Liszt, a novolette [Novellette] by Schumann expressively and fluently, and finally “Ukolebavka” [Ukolebávka - Schlummerlied] by A. Dreyschock and a concert waltz by B. [‘Bedřich’ - the Czech equivalent of Polish ‘Fryderic’] Chopin with feeling and dexterity and testified to be a worthy pupil of our [native] master Alexander Dreyschock. Mr Fektér sang in this concert a Rhenish folksong by Mendelssohn and the Persian song “Asra” by Rubinstein with approbation. We were dearly surprised by Miss Brennerova with the Hungarian folksong “Ez a világ” the character of which she excellently presented and in which she engaged her well-known coloratura. The concert-giver and Miss Brennerova were noisily recalled [to the stage].’

The work by Handel cannot be positively identified from the information given by the various sources; with two of the listed sources specifying that the work was an ‘Allegro et variationes sur la passacaglia’ the most likely possibility is the Chaconne (no.2 in G major, HWV435) from the 7 Suites for Keyboard published in 1733. The waltz by Chopin may be one of several in A-flat major, but given its description as ‘Valse de concert’ and evidently bravura performance is possibly op.34 no.1

Summary of sources:

Prager Morgenpost (08/12/1859)
Bohemia (10/12/1859)
Prager Zeitung (10/12/1859)
Bohemia (11/12/1859)
Prager Morgenpost (12/12/1859)
Bohemia (13/12/1859)
Prager Zeitung (14/12/1859)
Dalibor, hudební časopis s měsíční notovou přílohou (20/12/1859)