Prague Concert Life, 1850-1881

Event title:

Foundation concert given by the Military Music Society [Militärmuik-Vereins]

Venue: Žofín Island (Žofín Hall)

Event type: Art music culture

Date: 15/03/1851 4pm

Season: Lent

Programme comprising:

General participants:
  • Military Music Institute: participating institution
  • ensemble of Imperial First Field Artillery Regiment of Franz Joseph: participating ensemble
  • SVOBODA, František Václav: director of ensemble
WEBER, Carl Maria von : Overture to opera Oberon, orch, J306
arr. Svoboda, František Václav: E. Šliková: song Reiters Abschied , arr. wind insts
arr. Svoboda, František Václav: F. Schubert: song Der Wanderer , arr. wind insts
DREYSCHOCK, Alexander : march with chorus Radetzky-Siegesmarsch [Hommage à Radetzky] , chorus, wind insts
SPOHR, Louis : Menuett from Notturno for wind harmonie [Notturno für Harmonie], wind insts, turkish music, op.34
REIßIGER, Karl : song Frühlings-Glocken no.1 from songs [Gesänge und Lieder], v, pf, op.119
     • Vávrová, Bohumíra : v
HOŠEK, Antonín : song Holka z mlejna [Holka z mlýna] (Girl from the mill), v, pf
     • Vávrová, Bohumíra : v
unspecified 2 Czech folksongs, v, pf
     • Vávrová, Bohumíra : v
MÜLLER, Celestin : unspecified Fantasie, ob, pf
     • Müller, Celestin : ob
MEYERBEER, Giacomo : Coronation march from act 4 of opera Le prophète, orch


A notice was published by Bohemia 9/1/1851 announcing the intention of the new Military Music Society to arrange a foundation concert on 28/2/1851 that would include a new Festival Overture by the Hofkapellmeister [Svoboda] as well as an arrangement for military music ensemble of the song Reiters Abschied by Countess Elise von Schlick [Šliková].

25/2/1851 published news that the date of the Foundation concert [Gründungs-Koncert] of the Military Music Society that was due to take place in the Žofín Hall had been altered from 28th February to 15th March. The Tagesanzeiger texts of Bohemia 13/3/1851 and 14/3/1851 confirmed the date, time and venue of the event. On 14/3/1851 the newspaper also published a dedicated report anticipating the occasion. This noted that Swoboda as the founder of the local Military Music Society had arranged an inaugural festival concert in the Žofín Hall on 15th March, and which ‘promises to be paricularly interesting in many respects. As well as solo pieces [given] by Miss Wáwra [Vávra] and Mr Cölestin Müller, the programme contains many numbers arranged for military music, which we may with great pleasure anticipate from the respected, excellent, Imperial Artillery [Regiment] band.’ A selection of works from the programme were then listed.

A review, signed ‘V.’, of this concert was published by Bohemia 21/3/1851. The correspondent commented upon the expertise demanded of composers and directors of military music and wind harmonie, specifically the knowledge of transposition of woodwind and brass instruments and the ‘mysteries of mixing sound-colours’. These were thought to require very different skills from those needed for writing for string ensemble or for wind instruments with the orchestra. The foundation of a dedicated school for conductors and composers of military music ensembles and harmonie was therefore deemed to be most welcome. An inaugural concert was therefore given on 15th March in the Žofín Hall for this new body, under its parent Military Music Society. The occasion was conducted by Swoboda, whose band [of the First Artillery Regiment] performed both compositions of ‘higher learning [i.e. ‘high’ art music]’ as well as dances and marches. The Kapellmeister showed himself to be ‘not only an energetic conductor but also a completely experienced instrumentalist. This was demonstrated in the Oberon Overture, and still more in his orchestrations of the favourite songs “Reiters Abschied von seinem Rosse” by E.G. Schlik [Šliková], which was popularly encored, and Schubert’s “Wanderer”. The Swoboda-orchestrated Siegesmarsch mit Chor “Hommage à Radetzky” by Al. Dreyschock gained so much applause that a repeat was necessary. The fresh lyricism of the main theme, the brilliant tone-painting of the middle section and the imposing final climax made for a very inspiring whole.’ Less successful was the performance of Spohr’s Notturno, which suffered from ‘not altogether clean tuning’. Of the solo items in the concert, the songs given by Miss Wáwra [Vávra] were identified, and were noted to have been given with such success that she added two [unspecified] Czech folksongs as encores. Cölestin Müller’s playing of ‘a really difficult Fantasie for the oboe testified to his being a virtuoso of the first class, his tone and lyricism as well as his technical mastery of this awkward instrument was greeted with loud applause and he was many times curtain-called. These last three numbers were very delicately accompanied at the piano.’ Finally, the review related that an Overture for military orchestra by Mendelssohn was to have been given in the programme, but this was to be postponed until the second concert given by the Institute.

The programme is listed in order as related by the Bohemia 21/3/1851 review, although this does not necessarily represent the order in which all of the works were performed.

Summary of sources:

Bohemia, ein Unterhaltungsblatt (09/01/1851)
Bohemia, ein Unterhaltungsblatt (25/02/1851)
Bohemia (13/03/1851)
Bohemia (14/03/1851)
Bohemia (14/03/1851)
Bohemia (21/03/1851)