Prague Concert Life, 1850-1881

Event title:

Annual practical music examinations for pupils of wind instruments of the Conservatory

Venue: Žofín Island (Žofín Hall)

Event type: Examinations and didactic events

Date: 05/08/1850 9am

Season: Summer

Programme unspecified:

General participants:
  • Prague Conservatory: pupil(s) of institute, wind players


A report appeared in Bohemia 2/8/1850 noting that on 5th and 6th August at 9am the public examinations of pupils of the Conservatory’s Instrumental School would take place in the Žofín Hall. The details of date, time and venue of the event on Monday 5th August were confirmed by the Tagesanzeiger text of Bohemia 4/8/1850.

Bohemia 9/8/1850 published a review, signed ‘V.’, which both commented upon these specific examination performances and provided some background information to these Conservatory events and the institute’s success. The text began by expressing gratitude for the decision to hold the examinations of pupils of both the Instrumental and Opera Schools of the Institute at the same time as during the previous year. The interest of the public in the success of ‘our musical high school’ was proven by the ‘numerous attendance’. Pupils of the Instrumental School were noted to have given such trials of their acquired skills since 1846, and these had taken place in the Žofín Hall on Mondays and Tuesdays [once a year]. Wind and string players performed separately, the former, whose talents were recalled by the critic to have already been displayed during the Conservatory’s Lenten concerts, performed on 5th August to enthusiastic applause, and the string pupils on the following day. The violinists, trained according to the traditions of ‘the Old Bohemian School’, could not be faulted. Especially gratifying was the success of the ‘gifted young ’cellists’ now being taught ‘this poetic instrument’, and ‘something similar applies to the contrabassists.’ The programme of instrumental compositions performed was deemed to be of great interest on account of its containing both pupils’ own works as well as pieces by the ‘most famous and best concert-composers’. Of the higher class of the Instrumental School the correspondent then reported the numbers studying various instruments, namely: trombone 3; trumpet 3; horn [‘Waldhorn’ - although at this time the valved horn was being pioneeringly utilized in Prague] 6; bassoon 2; clarinet 2; oboe 5; flute 5; contrabasso 4; violoncello 3; violin [presumably including viola] 16; in total 49 pupils. Which of these pupils appeared in this event were not identified.

The review then noted that the examination of singers took place on 7th August. Singers studying at the Conservatory were divided into two classes, the lower class being the Singing School and the higher class the Opera School. Concerning the former, the critic noted that they comprised 6 ladies and one gentlemen, but gave no further details as to the performances of these ‘novice artists’. However, ‘the highest interest’ centered upon the graduation examinations of the Opera School pupils Therese Wagner, Fanny Wagner and Bohumíra Wáwra [Vávra]. Their performances were considered to be especially appealing to the public given that admission to the examinations was free; whereas when they were engaged by the theatre directorate audiences would then have to pay to hear them. The three [also noted to be participating was Mr J. Seiler, to complete the ensemble] gave between them the first two scenes from Flotow’s Martha and two arias from Figaro between Susanna and Figaro and Susanna and the Countess. Although their choice of purely opera fragments was limited, their performances were individually characterized by ‘spirit and emotion, vigour... and devoted love for the art’, and were thought to bear testimony to their professional training. They also performed spoken parts in a comedy by Holbein alongside Miss M. Klinger [Klingerová].

The final section of the Bohemia 9/8/1850 review reported that the ‘young orchestra’ had also performed an ‘Idylle by Lisinsky’,  bringing to the awareness of the correspondent ‘a new, very promising composer. The work, a full-blown Andante, was not an easy task for the orchestra.’ Lisinsky [Lisinksi] was identified as belonging to the neo-romantics [Neoromantikern], in so much as he expressed the visual in sound, ‘with a surprising mixture of tone colours.’ The ‘poetic effect [potential] of such landscape painting is without question, particularly when the ideas, form and orchestration reveal a poet, proficient musician and deft orchestrator, as is the case here.

From the sequence of the Bohemia review text the work by Lisinsky was possibly performed on 7th August during or following the singers’ examination. However, the piece may have been played during the previous two days.

Summary of sources:

Bohemia (02/08/1850)
Bohemia (04/08/1850)
Bohemia, ein Unterhaltungsblatt (09/08/1850)