Prague Concert Life, 1850-1881

Event title:

Benefit concert in aid of the Krombholz Foundation [der Krombholzischen Stiftung]

Venue: Žofín Island (Žofín Hall)

Event type: Art music culture

Date: 07/04/1850 12 noon

Beneficiary: Krombholz Foundation [der Krombholzischen Stiftung]

Programme comprising, part 1:

General participants:
  • Estates Theatre orchestra: participating orchestra, orch
  • Estates Theatre chorus: participating ensemble, male vv chorus
  • Žofín Academy: participating institution, male vv chorus
KITTL, Jan Bedřich : Overture to opera Die Franzosen vor Nizza [Bianca und Giuseppe], orch, op.31
AMBROS, August Wilhelm : scena Libuša's Prophezeihung, solo vv, chorus, orch
     • Bergauer, Louise : v
     • Žofín Academy: male vv chorus
     • Estates Theatre chorus: male vv chorus
FÜRSTENAU, Anton Bernhard : Concertino for flute and orchestra, fl, orch
     • Weeber, Wilhelm : fl
ŠKROUP, František Jan : unidentified chorus Vystěhovanec [Vystěhovalec] (The refugee), v, [pf]
     • Žofín Academy: male vv chorus
     • Estates Theatre chorus: male vv chorus Škroup, František Jan :

Part 2:

BENONI, Julius : Overture to opera Die Werbung, orch
LOEWE, Johann Carl Gottfried : song Der Feldherr no.1 of 3 historical ballades [3 historische Balladen], v, pf, op.67
     • Strakatý, Karel : v Škroup, Jan Nepomuk : pf
LOEWE, Johann Carl Gottfried : song Gruss am Meere no.1 of 3 Lieder, v, pf, op.103
     • Strakatý, Karel : v
MAYSEDER, Joseph : unspecified Variations, vl, [? orch]
     • Hoffmannová z Wendheimu, Gabriela : vl
ŠKROUP, Jan Nepomuk : chorus Píseň Čechů (Song of the Czechs), male vv
     • Žofín Academy: male vv chorus
     • Estates Theatre chorus: male vv chorus Škroup, Jan Nepomuk : conductor


Early news of this event appeared in a brief Prager Zeitung 14/3/1850 report that on 7/1850 a concert would be given for the benefit of the Krombholz Foundation. No further details of the occasion were noted by this text. On 24/3/1850 the same newspaper reported that on 7th April at 12 noon a concert would be given in the Žofín Hall to benefit the Krombholz Foundation [a charitable fund] for poor ill children. The programme to the event was then unknown, the correspondent noting that ‘as we hear, interesting pieces will be prepared. We wish this undertaking the most favourable success.’ Prager Zeitung 6/4/1850 then published fuller details about the concert taking place the next day, reporting the time and venue of the event, and listing the complete programme ‘contain[ing] many very interesting, mostly new pieces’ in performance order together with the participating soloists and accompanists. This text then gave more details about the charitable cause of the event and its organization, and noted that on account of the interesting pieces a large public attendance was expected. News was also related that attending would be His Majesty the Emperor Ferdinand. However, the presence of Ferdinand was not confirmed by any post-event report.

Advance information of this benefit event was first published in Bohemia on 2/4/1850. This text reported the benefitting cause, the date of the ‘musical Academy’, and noted that amongst other works the programme would include an Overture by the young composer J. Benoni. This was deemed to be particularly interesting on account of the ‘most audacious expectations’ held of this ‘brilliant pupil of Seechter [Simon Sechter]’. On 5/4/1850 the newspaper then published more detailed information about this ‘musical Academy’ that was to take place ‘on Sunday in the Žofín Island Hall for the benefit of Krombholz’s Foundation.’ The programme was then listed in projected performance order and the participating soloists and choruses identified.
The Overture by Benoni was listed as being to his opera Die Werbung. The Tagesanzeiger texts of Bohemia 5/4/1850 and 7/4/1850 specified the date, venue and time of this event.

An extended review, signed ‘V.’, of this benefit concert appeared in Bohemia 9/4/1850. After remarking that the programme had comprised eight numbers, the text mentioned that of solo performances ‘as well as the Variations for flute by Mr W. Weeber [given as Weber by Prager Zeitung], we heard the promising pupil of Mr Němec, Miss Gabr. Hoffmann [Hoffmannová]. She gained with Meyseder’s Variations such enthusiastic applause, that she was three times curtain-called and then played Beriot’s brilliant Tremolo.’ Her playing was considered to be particularly astonishing on account of her young age. The Estates Theatre opera singer ‘Mr Strakatý delighted an audience as distinguished as it was numerous, with the performance of a composition by Loewe, Der Feldherr [text] of Gruppe.’ The work itself then inspired a brief yet enthusiastic appraisal, the critic considering that only such a Tonepoet as Loewe could succeed in so effectively setting the difficult text. Such was the success of the piece with the audience that Strakatý performed as an encore another Loewe composition, Gruß vom Meere. This song, in two parts, was noted to be characterized by its sumptious lyricism and effective arpeggio accompaniment. Owing to ‘the peculiarity of Loewe’s handling of the melody, and the ‘frappant’ harmony’ the work was adjudged to be difficult for the performer. However, the correspondent wished that more such works were performed in order to supplant the commonplace concert-fodder of many ‘everyday’ Viennese and German composers.

Of the other items in the programme, the two Czech male voice choruses performed by members of the Estates Theatre and the Žofín Academy under their respective composers ‘obtained a splendid success.’ The Overture by Benoni was, however, greatly criticized. In both Vienna and Prague ‘the most sanguine hopes pinned upon the younger composer are great; its performance was therefore an extremely tense occasion.’  His work was considered to be ‘as awkward as it is difficult, in parts impractical’. However, the reviewer did concede that ‘We readily believe in the extraordinary ability of the 16-year old’, and that other parts of his opera could be expected to contain numbers demonstrating the composer’s talent. The performance of the other Overture in the concert, ‘Kittel’s [Kittl]’ to Bianca und Giuseppe, caused the correspondent to contemplate how that ‘magnificent’ opera was ‘despite the hopes many have of it entering the repertoire’ being hindered from doing so due to the lack of an understudy for the singer Miss Grösser [Grösserová]. Finally, much of the remainder of the review text concerned the second item in the programme, Ambros’s dramatic scene Libuša’s Prophezeiung. This ‘contained, particularly as regards its first part, music of astonishing beauty’, the instrumental introduction and the recitative and first number described as ‘rich and vigorous and dignified’ and ‘beautiful’ in harmony and orchestration. The second half, and in particular the solo number, was simply thought to be cast ‘to some extent in a theatrical style’, the observation being offered with the proviso that this was only a first hearing. Miss Bergauer, who sang the part of Libuše was ‘many times interrupted [by applause] and at the end was curtain-called. Further performances of the composition were requested. The review concluded by expressing the hope that the ‘foundation of the immortal Krombholz, important for the whole of the Fatherland, would also find the same industrious friends and patrons in the other towns of Bohemia [as is did in Prague].’ The foundation was a fund for the support of students.

The order of the database programme record corresponds with the listings in Bohemia 5/4/1850 and Prager Zeitung 6/4/1850. The flautist in the Concertino by Fürstenau was mistakenly identified in the latter source as ‘Weber’ instead of Weeber. The Prager Zeitung text also noted that the works Vystěhovanec and Píseň Čechů were to be performed under the direction of Maýr, director of the Žofín Academy. However, the subsequent Bohemia review specifically reported that these two works were conducted by their respective composers.

Summary of sources:

Prager Zeitung (14/03/1850)
Prager Zeitung (24/03/1850)
Bohemia (02/04/1850)
Bohemia (05/04/1850)
Prager Zeitung (06/04/1850)
Bohemia (07/04/1850)
Bohemia (09/04/1850)