Prague Concert Life, 1850-1881

Event title:

Soirée musicale given by the Lőcze Musical Society [Loczer Musikgesellschaft]

Venue: Žofín Island (Žofín Hall)

Event type: Popular social musical and dance events

Date: 04/01/1851

Programme including [see commentary]:

General participants:
  • Lőcze Musical Society [Loczer Musikgesellschaft]: participating ensemble
  • KÁLOZDY, Johann: director of ensemble
ROSSINI, Gioachino Antonio : Overture to opera Guillaume Tell, orch
FLOTOW, Friedrich von : Overture to opera Martha, orch
UNIDENTIFIED, ? : unspecified Hungarian folksongs, [arr.] orch
UNSPECIFIED, ? : unspecified marches, [arr.] orch
UNSPECIFIED, ? : unspecified dances, [arr.] orch
UNSPECIFIED, ? : unspecified extracts from Italian operas, [arr.] orch


Prager Zeitung 3/1/1851 reported that the ‘Loczer ungarische Musikgesellschaft’ directed by its Kapellmeister Mr Joh. Kálozdy would give concerts on Saturday [4th January] in the Žofín Hall and on Sunday [5th January] in the Konvikt Hall. The renowned ‘precision and vivacity’ of the ensemble was thought to merit the full attention of the public. The members of the society were noted to be Hungarian and would give the first part of the concerts in their national costume.

Prager Zeitung 4/1/1851 published an unsigned review of the ‘musical soirée’ given by this ensemble on 4th January. This remarked that the occasion was distinct for the great interest in what was seen as well as what was heard. In the first half of the event the Society appeared in brilliant, colourful national costume, and then in the second part in white shirts and black ‘Attilas’. The leader of the ensemble, about whom the critic noted one lady had described as ‘an adorable young man’ directed from his violin, ‘not only with very great decorum, but also with delicacy and strength. He cajoled and bossed them, as was necessary, and gained an astonishing effect, their following him through thick and thin.’ Having already heard other such musical ensembles, this band was thought to be far in advance in its accomplishment; as other groups were water, so the Loczer were ‘fire and flame. This fervency, this passion, heart-breaking with the quality of their sound, this precision and the astonishing presentation of the pieces ... [inspired] the enthusiasm of the audience’

A review, signed ‘V.’, of this event was published by Bohemia 7/1/1851. The correspondent observed that any ‘critique of this interesting production ... offers the witty Feuilletonist plenty of opportunity for political-artistic commentary on national art and artists’. The programme, both in content and performance captured the attention of the critic for what was perceived to be its particularly Hungarian quality. This was evident in the ‘completely individual, ostensibly rhapsodic and irregular Hungarian folktunes’, in the ‘peculiar ... yet precise performance of the folksy pieces by strings and wind, the latter providing a tone in part of deep melancholy and in part of wild, exciting song’. The orchestra, noted to be of 15 men, comprising 6 violins and violas, a violoncello, a bass, 2 woodwinds and [5] brass, seemed ‘as of one person with unanimity, accuracy and precision ... and a full sound [that was] marked in effect and which is not to be found amongst our own many bands.’ Of the programme, ‘apart from particular Magyar pieces’ and familiar marches ‘we also heard many dances and Italian opera compositions with the same very accurate execution. This applied too to the Overtures to Rossini’s Tell and Flotow’s Martha, although we cannot agree with the [frequent] changes in tempo, accelerandos, diminuendos and rubatos, especially in the latter piece we do not really approve. Yet this peculiarity in performance seemed so intrinsic with the Magyar musicians that apart from this taste their eminent playing cannot be criticized.’

Of the public success of this event the Bohemia review was positive, remarking that ‘The production naturally caused a ... great sensation, and almost half of the 16 numbers had to be repeated.’ However, evidently initial public interest in this itinerant band that had recently arived in Prague was muted, for the critic also noted that the hall was ‘only moderately full’. At the next event to be given by them on Sunday 5th January, ‘hardly a foothold’ could be gained at the venue, the locality evidently being so crowded.

Bohemia 3/1/1851 had published an initial report of the visit and first trial performance of this ensemble in Prague. Over the following days the ensemble frequently appeared in public, evidently giving a series of ‘Soirée musicales’ as Bohemia 10/1/1851 published a notice that their sixth and seventh such events would take place on 11th and 12th January.

Among the works performed by this ensemble during their Prague sojourn was, according to a report appearing in Bohemia 13/1/1851, Petrák’s Sedlczanska Polka [Sedlčanská Polka]. The work was noted to be available from J. Hoffmann’s music shop. In which events it was performed by the Hungarians cannot be ascertained from the source reports.

Summary of sources:

Prager Zeitung (03/01/1851)
Prager Zeitung (04/01/1851)
Bohemia, ein Unterhaltungsblatt (07/01/1851)
Bohemia, ein Unterhaltungsblatt (10/01/1851)