Prague Concert Life, 1850-1881

Event title:

Second annual Cecilia Society concert

Venue: Žofín Island (Žofín Hall)

Event type: Art music culture

Date: 19/12/1850 5pm

Season: Advent

Programme comprising, part 1:

General participants:
  • Cecilia Society: participating institution, chorus, orch
  • APT, Antonín: director of institute, conductor
HAYDN, Franz Joseph : unspecified Symphony, orch, E-flat major

Part 2:

TSCHIRCH, Wilhelm : cantata [Tongemälde] Eine Nacht auf dem Meere, solo vv, chorus, orch
     • Peták, ? : Kapitán Nedvěd, Antonín : Steuermann Klaus, ? : Hochbootsmann


Information about the forthcoming concert to be given by the Cecilia Society was published by Bohemia 15/12/1850. The report announced that the ‘prize-winning work “Eine Nacht auf dem Meere”, a dramatic tone-painting for solo, chorus and orchestra by Wilhelm Tschirch, Kapellmeister in Liegnitz, will be performed by the Cecilia Society on Thursday 19th December at 5pm in the Hall on Žofín Island.’ The Tagesanzeiger texts of Bohemia 17/12/1850 and 19/12/1850 listed the event as taking place on 19th December, noting too its time and venue. Prager Zeitung 15/12/1850 also contained an advance report of the occasion, noting ‘We make the musical public aware of the performance of the following work on 19th Dec. 1850 at 5pm in the Hall of Žofín Island by the Cecilia Society: „Eine Nacht auf dem Meere, this dramatic tone-picture composition by Wilhelm Tschirch, Kapellmeister in Liegnitz, having been awarded a prize in Berlin.’

An extensive review
, signed ‘V.’, of this event was published by the newspaper Bohemia over two issues, on 22/12/1850 and 24/12/1850. This began with an aside, that for those who do not take great pleasure from listening ‘to modern, so-called virtuoso music... the shorter the programme, the more interesting the concert.’ This concert given by the Cecilia Society was noted to contain only two numbers, ‘the first classical, the second in many respects interesting.’ Haydn’s Symphony was adjudged ‘in its happy youthful freshness a triumph. The crystal purity and grace and gratefulness of the movements... exercises now after 50 years [the same power as when it originated].’ Haydn was described as a composer of genius at the front rank of those founding the ‘great, so-called instrumental epoch of music.’ The performance of the ‘great massed orchestra (we counted 7 double basses) could in general only be praised.

Much of the Bohemia review concerned the new composition by Tschirch, which the correspondent recalled had been given a first prize by the Singakademie in Berlin. In respect of this award the decision to perform this ‘novelty warranted the gratitude of music-friends’. However, the work was not rated highly by the critic. The poem upon which it was based was considered weak, the composition derivative in form and content from the Ode-Symphonies of Fel. David, and the musical language often reminiscent of other composers, specifically of Mendelssohn (in the
Hymnus an die Nacht) and Beethoven. Certain sections of the piece were praised for their freshness and effective orchestral colouring, but even in sections such as Sturm where the composer demonstrated considerable energy and command of counterpoint, the material was thought to be derivative. ‘The performance was very dignified [würdige].’ After listing the solo vocalists, the review reported that the ‘very numerous choir and orchestra left little to be desired. The Hall was over-full.’ The text ended with the note that in the third concert of the season the Cecilia Society would perform ‘a great, but less-well known work by Beethoven.’

Summary of sources:

Bohemia, ein Unterhaltungsblatt (15/12/1850)
Prager Zeitung (15/12/1850)
Bohemia, ein Unterhaltungsblatt (17/12/1850)
Bohemia, ein Unterhaltungsblatt (19/12/1850)
Bohemia, ein Unterhaltungsblatt (22/12/1850)
Bohemia, ein Unterhaltungsblatt (24/12/1850)