Prague Concert Life, 1850-1881

Event title:

Farewell music soirée [Abschiedssoirée] given by pianist Alexander Dreyschock

Venue: Private salon of Alexander Dreyschock

Event type: Personal and private musical events

Date: 01/04/1850

Programme including:

General participants:
  • DREYSCHOCK, Alexander: soloist, pf
UNSPECIFIED, ? : unspecified fugue, org
DREYSCHOCK, Alexander : Polka Invitation à la Polka, pf, op.73
DREYSCHOCK, Alexander : Rhapsodie Zum Wintermärchen, pf, op.40
UNSPECIFIED, ? : unspecified Lieder, v, pf
     • Botschon-Soukupová, Cecilie : v
BEETHOVEN, Ludwig van : String Quartet Razumovsky, 2vl, va, vc, nr.9, C major, op.59/3
     • Dreyschock, Raimund : vl Pleiner, Eduard : vl Král, Jan : va Träg, Anton : vc
DREYSCHOCK, Alexander : String Quartet, 2vl, va, vc, A major, op.105
     • Dreyschock, Raimund : vl Pleiner, Eduard : vl Král, Jan : va Träg, Anton : vc


No advance information announcing this event appeared in contemporary Prague periodicals, however a review, signed ‘V.’, was published by Bohemia 5/4/1850. This began by remarking that ‘Although at the end of the Winter season in Easter week [more specifically, of Lent] there sets in a general pause in public musical life’, during the last few days there were still taking place many musical events in churches and in [private] salons. Neither tended to inspire reviews in the local newspapers. However, this particular event no doubt attracted the attention of the Bohemia critic on account of its being given by the native pianist Dreyschock, then regarded as the most accomplished of Czech virtuosi and whose departure from Prague on concert tour was imminent. ‘As is generally known, Alexander Dreyschock in the coming days is forsaking Prague for London. On Easter Monday the master gave in his salon a musical farewell ...’ and this ‘special performance by the European celebrity’ was noted to have caused great interest. About Dreyschock’s playing the critic deemed any descriptive comment unnecessary, having already been outlined already many times in the past. ‘One knows in advance what to expect when he proffers his services, or rather his obeisance, to the piano, and invariably he still amazes the hearer not only in the technical accomplishment but also the poetic, artistic mastery of his performances.’ However, his performance on this occasion must have been particularly impressive, since ‘I do not know, was it that the fair and splendid assembly particularly inspired the artist, or did he have this time a so-called good-day that plays such an important rôle in the life of every poet ....’

Works performed in the soirée were identified and remarked upon in the Bohemia 5/4/1850 review. Although this text does not specify whether or not the whole programme was being described, the substantance and number of pieces described, including two string quartets, Dreyschock’s Wintermärchen and some songs, indicates that all pieces performed in the event were noted. First described was an unspecified fugue that was played by the pianist and was probably of his own composition. This type of composition was noted to provide a brilliant opportunity by which to display technical accomplishment, requiring ‘complete independence of the hands, but also of the fingers’. Immediately following this work, Dreyschock paid ‘hommage to the beautiful ladies’ in the audience by performing a polka, ‘a native rose alongside the sanctified bloom [i.e. of the fugue].’ This ‘composition and its performance was charming’. Interestingly, Dreyschock’s treatment of the Polka was likened to Chopin’s characteristic handling of the Mazurka in that the two genres were imbued by their respectives creators with ‘the fundamental attributes of their national character’. A resemblance, although ‘naturally only in the musical content’,
was noted between the Polka and Carl Maria von Weber’s ‘magnificent “Aufforderung zum Tanze”’; apparently such similarlty did not detract from Czech composer’s work, for which ‘we may prophesy a similar brilliant and effective success in the musical world.’ After thus describing the Polka, the review remarked that no mention was necessary of Dreyschock’s performance of ‘Wintermärchens’, or of the unspecified Lieder given by ‘splendid singer’ Mrs Cäcilie Botschon [Botschon-Soukupová].

Finally, the review focussed upon the string quartet performances, initially with reference to the participation of Raimund Dreyschock, the pianists brother, as first violinist. In the C major Quartet by Beethoven [op.59/3], the playing of Raimund caused ‘not a minor sensation.’ His performance showed that ‘the enormous progress of the young artist is startling and demonstrated how meticulously ... he used the last year to perferct his schooling [on the instrument].’ Of the recently completed A major String Quartet, the critic felt that ‘it is the case that every time we hear [this piece], it makes a more favourable impression as a work throughout of profound content and poetic interest.’ The evident improvement in the correspondent’s opinion of the Quartet contrasted slightly with his previously positive review of the piece when it was performed earlier in the year in the second of the three Quartet Soirées. After listing the players in the quartets, the text concluded by joining with the reader in wishing Alexander  Dreyschock a happy journey.

The fugue performed by Dreyschock cannot be identified. Given that the other solo piano works in the programme were written by him, this piece may well have been his only published work titled as a fugue, the Preludio e fuga, op.36. Although the critic drew attention to the apparent Czech character of the polka, Dreyschock by no means pioneered the development of this form
, as Smetana did, through the incorporation of national characteristics. Dreyschock’s output contains few pieces that could be considered to be in a polka idiom, and only two published works carry the title. The work performed on this occasion was certainly the Invitation à la Polka, op.73, given the critic’s comment upon its likeness to the Invitation to the Dance by Weber.

Summary of sources:

Bohemia (05/04/1850)