Prague Concert Life, 1850-1881

Event title:

Benefit concert arranged and given by Mrs Hagen in aid of the Institute for the Blind

Venue: Žofín Island (Žofín Hall)

Event type: Art music culture

Date: 04/05/1850

Beneficiary: Seminary Institute for the Blind

Programme unspecified:

General participants:
  • HAGEN, Rosa: soloist
BELLINI, Vincenzo : unspecified aria, v, [orch / pf arr]
ROSSINI, Gioachino Antonio : cavatina unspecified, from opera Il Barbiere di Siviglia, v, orch
UNSPECIFIED, ? : unidentified song Touha po vlasti (Longing for the homeland), v, hn, pf
KOBEL, ? : song Die Augen, v, [pf]
General participants:
  • Teaching candidates of the 'National-school' in Budeč: participating ensemble, male vv
TOMÁŠEK, Václav Jan Křtitel : 2 unspecified movements from unspecified Requiem mass, 4 solo vv, chorus, [pf / orch?]
     • Teaching candidates of the 'National-school' in Budeč: chorus Herdiborsky, ? : v Casanova, Anna : v Schweizer, ? : v Nedvěd, Antonín : v
VIEUXTEMPS, Henri : Fantasie Souvenir de Russe, vl, pf, op.21
     • Hoffmannová z Wendheimu, Gabriela : vl
CZERNY, Carl : Piano quartet, vl, va, vc, pf
     • Marschlerová, Marie : Thomasová, Emilie : Grundová, Therese : Krausová, Johanna :
KOLEŠOVSKÝ, Zikmund Michal : chorus Schlachtruf, male vv
     • Teaching candidates of the 'National-school' in Budeč: male vv


Advance news was published by Prager Zeitung 23/4/1850 of the intention of ‘Mrs Rosa Hagen, court singer to the Grand Duke of Meklenburg - a compatriot - arranges for 4th May a great musical Academy, from which half of the profits has been earmarked for the Accomodation and Employment of Adult Blind.’ The text did not include any further information about the event. Bohemia 2/5/1850 published a brief report that Mrs Hagen would give a concert on 4th May in the Žofín Hall, from which half of the profits would benefit the local Institute for the Blind. No further details were noted by this text.

A review, signed ‘V.’, of the concert was published by Bohemia 7/5/1850. The correspondent commented ‘that unless we are mistaken ... [Mrs Hagen] is an alumnus of the Conservatory ... [her] voice whose range amounts to much more than two octaves seems to be fairly uniformly trained in all registers. Her easy, appealing and clear coloratura was very fitting for the performance of a Bellini aria and the cavatina from Rossini’s Barbier von Sevilla. The two songs “Túha po vlasti [Touha po vlasti]” with horn and pianoforte accompaniment, and the “Die Augen” polacca by Kobel were received by a very grateful public with much applause, so that the singer was repeatedly and emphatically [curtain-]called to add another [unspecified].’ Concerning her singing the critic could not disagree with the general approbation of the audience, but felt that in ‘at least the pieces from the sphere of opera’ her performance might have been ‘more heartfelt and vivid ... [and] Mrs Hagen had not purposefully in the concert hall [venue] tried to avoid introducing dramatic colour.’ Half of the profits from the event were stated to be destined for the Institute for the Employment and Accommodation of Adult Blind, and that with this in mind a ‘splendidly penned Prologue’ had been written for the event and was performed by the Estates Theatre actor, Mr Fischer. Of the other musical items of the programme, ‘the fifth item caused a thoughtful reminiscence upon the great loss suffered recently by musical Prague.’ This referred to the chorus for male voices Na vlast, ‘a Czech translation of the poem “An mein Vaterland, Böhmen” by K.B. Hansgirg, set to music by W. Tomaschek [Tomášek]’. The work was noted as having been performed earlier in the year during the winter season, and had been published by the Czech periodical Libussa. Also given were two movements from the latter’s Requiem, ‘masterfully worked and of genuinely spiritual poetry’. The solo vocalists were listed, and the chorus was identified as gentlemen trainee teachers of the national school in Budeč [die Herren Lehramtskandidaten der Nationalschule zu Budeč die Chorstimmen]. Appearing too in the concert was ‘the celebrated pet [‘Schoßkind’ - lit. pet, darling child, favourite, or even in a derogatory sense ‘spoilt child’] of the Prague concert-going public, Gabriele Hoffmann, who gained stormy applause and was many times curtain-called for her performance of the extremely difficult, abounding with passages in octaves,
Fantasie on Russian folksongs by Vieuxtemps. The review then reported the audience was thrilled by the ‘really precise performance’ of Czerny’s Quartet, by four ladies who the critic thought were probably pupils of ‘Mr H. Proksch [probably Josef Proksch]’. Particularly pleasing was the playing of ‘the little Primistin [first violinist], with her resolute aplomb in performing Czerny’s passagework.’ Finally, ‘Sigmund Kolleschovsky’s [Kolešovský] chorus “Schlachtruf” constituted the ... last number of the fully two-hour concert. The audience was quite numerous [ziemlich zahlreicher].’

Details of this interesting programme, particularly notable on account of the inclusion of a chamber work performed exclusively by women are listed in the event record with the compositions relayed in the order of their description by the Bohemia review. Unfortunately, no other identified source related specific information about the event programme. Therefore certain items such as the Bellini aria and the Czech song with obbligato horn cannot be identified. The hornist and the piano accompanist were not specified. In the work by Czerny the rôles taken by the four players were not specified. Of these, Marie Marschler [Marschlerová] was in later years predominantly active as a singer.
Of the Requiem extract by Tomášek, the composer wrote two such Requiem settings, op.70 in C minor entitled Requiem - Hymni in sacro pro defunctis cantari soliti pleno concentu musico redditi for solo voices, SATB chorus and orchestra, and op.72 in B minor for four voices, violoncello and bass (or organ or pianoforte), entitled Hymni in sacro pro defunctis cantari soliti - Seelenmesse. The work performed on this occasion cannot be ascertained.

Prager Zeitung 3/5/1850 published news that Joseph Bayer had written a Prologue for this Academy.

Summary of sources:

Prager Zeitung (23/04/1850)
Bohemia (02/05/1850)
Bohemia (07/05/1850)