Prague Concert Life, 1850-1881

Event title:

Benefit Academy in aid of the St Bartholomew Poor House [Institute for the Poor]

Venue: Žofín Island (Žofín Hall)

Event type: Art music culture

Date: 21/03/1850 5pm

Season: Lent

Beneficiary: Prague Institute for the Poor [St Bartholomew Poor House]

Programme comprising, part 1:

General participants:
  • Cecilia Society: participating institution, chorus, [orch]
WEBER, Carl Maria von : Overture to opera Euryanthe, J291
BÉRIOT, Charles Auguste de : Concerto for violin and orchestra Military, vl, orch, nr.1, D major, op.16
     • Hoffmannová z Wendheimu, Gabriela : vl
KNIGHT, Joseph Philip : song She wore a wreath of roses, v, pf
     • Küchenmeister-Rudersdorf, ? : v Vogl, František Arnold : pf
KITTL, Jan Bedřich : song Die Rose lag im Schlummer from song collection Wilde Rosen an Hertha, v, pf, op.3
     • Küchenmeister-Rudersdorf, ? : v Vogl, František Arnold : pf
DONIZETTI, Gaetano : unidentified song [Barcarolle] Deh vien la barca è pronta, v, pf
     • Küchenmeister-Rudersdorf, ? : v Vogl, František Arnold : pf

Part 2:

MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY, Felix : incidental music to Racine's play Athalie, solo vv, chorus, orch, op.74
     • Fischer, ? : narrator Wagner, Franziska : v Bergauer, Louise : Casanova, Anna : v Müllerová, ? : v


Bohemia 17/3/1850 published the complete programme for this benefit academy in aid of the St Bartholomew Poor House under the protection of Count Franz Thun. The participating soloists were specfied, and the event was noted to begin at 5pm. The Tagesanzeiger texts of Bohemia 19/3/1850 and 21/3/1850 also recorded the date, venue and time of this event.

A review, signed ‘V.’, of this event appeared in Bohemia 24/3/1850. The correspondent related that the concert opened with a spoken prologue, written in verse by Professor Wenzig and performed by Miss Lechner [Lechnerová], which evidently reflected the picture of the gathering for the occasion of a ‘magnificent and numerous’ audience in the over-filled hall of the Žofín Island. The event itself was judged to be a success on three counts: in musical enjoyment; in terms of attendance it was ‘certainly the most splendid concert of that year’; in the degree of interest and support for its underlying charitable purpose. Concerning the latter, although the review made no mention of receipts from admission, the concert was noted to include a lottery for the good cause. This was later noted to have been drawn at around 8pm when the programme concluded, at which point ‘many in the venue both silently and out loud cherished desires they hoped the Goddess of luck would fulfill.’

As regards the musical portion of the ‘Akademie’ [the text deployed the terms ‘Koncert’ and ‘Akademie’ without any evident distinction], the Bohemia critic remarked that he could quickly condense his review of what he considered were the two main numbers of the programme - the Overture to Euryanthe and Mendelssohn’s music to Athalia - on account that both were familiar from earlier concerts of the Cecilia Society. Interestingly, the members of the latter were today ‘numerously represented’ and were noted to have assumed the performance of these works. About the ‘favourable choice’ of the Athalia music and its performance the correspondent declined to comment for fear of tiring his readers through repetition - they were referred back to his previous [date not specified] Bohemia review following the ‘glorious music’s’ first performance [in Prague]. The solo performers were then listed. Mr Fischer who was noted to have spoken Devrient’s monologues and melodrama parts. The solo [singers] comprised ‘Miss [Franziska] Wagner, Miss Bergauer, Miss Casanowa and Miss Müller. Of the ‘high-Romantic’ Overture to Euryanthe, although the critic identified this as his second highlight of the programme, he also related that his opinion was evidently not shared by the audience, whose attention and enthusiatic applause was less than that demonstrated for the performances of the two soloists, Miss Hoffmann and Mrs Küchenmeister-Rudersdorf. The latter sang an English song by B. [Joseph Philip] Knight, the fourth of Saphir’s Wilde Rosen by Kittl in German, and a Donizetti Barcarolle in Italian. She was curtain-called three or four times, obtaining the ‘most brilliant results’ through ‘the most amazing abundance of trills, runs and coloratura’. Miss Hoffmann, a highly-promising pupil of Mr Němec, had already given a concert during the last year and ‘caused an exceptionl sensation’. On this occasion, for her ‘amazing performance’ despite her ‘tender age’ of the ‘well-known’ Bériot Concerto, she was rewarded with ‘stormy, vociferous applause and ... the exceptional achievement of the honour of being curtain-called three times.’

No details of the general participants involved in this performance, excepting the members of the Cecilia Society, were identified by the specified sources. Large-scale benefit events that were mounted annually in Prague during the middle nineteenth-century often included the resources of major local societies and institutions such as the Conservatory, the forces of the Estates Theatre and of the Žofín Academy.

Summary of sources:

Bohemia (17/03/1850)
Bohemia (19/03/1850)
Bohemia (24/03/1850)