Prague Concert Life, 1850-1881

Event title:

Concert given as part of projected 'Music festival' [Musikfest] by the Patriotic Music Society

Venue: Žofín Island (Žofín Gardens)

Parent Event:
Musical entertainment given by ensemble of the Infantry Regiment of Baron Alemann

Event type: Art music culture

Date: 20/07/1850 4pm

Season: Summer

Programme including:

General participants:
  • Patriotic Music Society: participating institution, chorus, orch
  • SVOBODA, František Václav: director of ensemble
SVOBODA, František Václav : Overture Die Berggeistern, orch
KÖHLER, ? : chorus Česká krew [Česká krev] (Czech blood), vv
RASTELLI, ? : song Der Zweifall (Le doute), v, [pf?]
WAGNER, F. : chorus Jägerchor, vv
VEIT, Wenzel Heinrich : song Liebliche Morgenluft no.4 of 6 songs [Sechs Gesänge], v, pf, op.15
     • Beer, ? : v
JELEN, Alois : chorus Vše jen ku chvále vlasti a krále (All only in praise of country and King), male vv


Bohemia 18/7/1850 published news that ‘The projected Music festival [Musikfest] of the Patriotic Music Society [des vaterländischen Musik-Vereines] under the leadership of its director Mr F.W. Swoboda [Svoboda], which had previously been postponed due to unforseen circumstances, will take place on 20th July on Žofín Island. This time there will be given many new pieces by native composers, and the programme to the Festival will soon be made known.’ The Tagesanzeiger texts of Bohemia 18/7/1850 and 19/7/1850 then announced that on Žofín Island in the afternoon of Saturday 20th July would take place the Music Festival of the Patriotic Music Society [Musikfest des vaterländischen Musikvereins]. No further details of the event were given, although the two parts of the occasion, concert and outdoor military music ensembles were obviously considered to be part of one whole festival event. 

More specific advanced details of the ‘Musikfest’ of the Patriotic Music Society were published in a report appearing in Bohemia 19/7/1850. This announced that the event, under the leadership of the Society’s director F.W. Swoboda [Svoboda] would take place tomorrow and ‘proffers a programme that again provides for the choice indulgence of the Art-loving public.’ The Festival would begin with a concert at 4pm, and the works to be performed therein were listed. These are reproduced in the database record in the same order, presumably that of their performance. Following the concert the report noted that the combined musical ensembles of regiments stationed in Prague would play the newest compositions in the Žofín Island’s garden. Unfortunately, owing to unfortunate weather this projected ‘Musikfest’ did not proceed according to the original plans. 

Bohemia 21/7/1850 announced that due to unfavourable weather the ‘Musikfest’ of the Patriotic Music Society that was to have taken place on Žofín Island ‘yesterday’ had been postponed and would take place ‘tomorrow afternoon.’ The Tagesanzeiger text of Bohemia 21/7/1850 noted that on Žofín Island on the afternoon of Monday 22nd July there would take place the Music Festival of the Patriotic Music Society [Musikfest des vaterländischen Musikvereins]. The concert part of the original programme, because it was scheduled to be given in the covered Žofín Hall, did occur on 20/7/1850. 

A review, signed ‘V.’, was published several days later by Bohemia 25/7/1850 reporting that despite the proclamations promised by ‘gigantic posters [appearing] on the city’s street corners, as a result of treacherous persistent rain only the concert staged in the Žofín Hall came about.’ This too, with its ‘lean programme’ had ‘little success. For each 10 ladies attending the event there came at most one gentleman’, and so the audience ‘was not numerous. A new Overture to the “Berggeistern” by F.W. Swoboda provided the introduction. This very energetically orchestrated composition was performed well. Miss Beer sang a song “Der Zweifal” composed by L.P., and “Liebliche Morgenluft” by W. Veit, and following the second piece was [curtain-]called.’ Choruses performed by fifty members of the Estates Theatre choir were then identified. The correspondent then remarked that he was deliberately restricting his commentary to noting the programme and the success of the concert. The planned ‘Musikfest’ of massed bands did not take place, and this was noted in the Bohemia 25/7/1850 review. Interestingly, the correspondent used the fact of the cancellation to air his criticism of the overall activities and aesthetic outlook underlining the projected activities of the ‘vaterländisches Musikvereins’, a stance that was already perceptible and developing in the newspaper’s review of the body’s preceding concert. A clearly sardonic tone was thus perceptible in the report that ‘Even Jupiter pluvius does not agree with the strange Artistic tendencies ... pursued by the “Patriotic Music Society”, and levied a weighty veto so that the ... “große Musikfest” in the garden could not take place.’ Although the correspondent admitted that performances of opera-fragments, potpourris and dances in an outdoor setting could be pleasing, the combined musical ensembles of the regiments garrisoned in Prague were not of a category of art appropriate for such a Society, nor was furnishing a ‘great Music-festival’ with ‘waltzes, polkas and galops.’ 

The event programme given in the database record is reproduced in the order specified by Bohemia 19/7/1850 report. The song ‘Der Zweifall’ was identified by the subsequent review as being by ‘L.P.’. The participation of the Estates Theatre choir in this event was notable, demonstrating at least the influence and importance of the arranger of the concert, František Svoboda, in Prague musical life of the time. The specific description of the choir consisting of 50 members of the Estates Theatre body perhaps provides an insight of the constitution of the ‘Patriotic Music Society’, suggesting it either included these professional singers, or else just comprised instrumentalists in this event. The latter seems doubtful given the large scale concerts given by the society earlier in the year. 

Prager Zeitung 21/6/1850 published news that during the following month the Patriotic Music Society would give a ‘Musikfest’ at which there would be the opportunity for the performance of  ‘many new compositions’. The event to which the source referred was certainly the performance given as noted above.

Summary of sources:

Prager Zeitung (21/06/1850)
Bohemia (18/07/1850)
Bohemia (18/07/1850)
Bohemia (19/07/1850)
Bohemia (19/07/1850)
Bohemia (21/07/1850)
Bohemia (21/07/1850)
Bohemia (25/07/1850)