Prague Concert Life, 1850-1881

Event title:

Benefit concert for the Children's Hospital at St Lazarus

Venue: Žofín Island (Žofín Hall)

Event type: Art music culture

Date: 26/04/1851 5pm

Beneficiary: Children's Hospital at St Lazarus

Programme comprising:

General participants:
  • Estates Theatre orchestra: participating orchestra
  • ŠKROUP, František Jan: director of ensemble
  • MILDNER, Mořic: leader of orchestra, vl
BEETHOVEN, Ludwig van : Overture to opera Leonore, orch, nr.3, op.72
ŠKROUP, Jan Nepomuk : song Kde vlast je má (Where is my country?), v, chorus, pf
     • Anderle, Alois Vincenc : v
HÖLZEL, Gustav : song Der Schmerz no.1 of 2 songs [Zwei Lieder], v, pf, op.20
     • Anderle, Alois Vincenc : v
MINKUS, Ludwig : Andante and Rondeau espagnol from Concerto for violin and orchestra, vl, orch, nr.4
     • Minkus, Ludwig : vl
UNSPECIFIED, ? : unspecified song, v, [orch / pf?]
     • Švarcová, Therese : v
BEETHOVEN, Ludwig van : movement 1 from Sonata for pianoforte, pf, nr.17, D minor, op.31/2
     • Enis, Leopoldine, Baroness : pf
HANDEL, George Frideric : Fugue probably movement 1 from Suite for keyboard, kbd, E minor, HWV429
     • Enis, Leopoldine, Baroness : pf
BACH, Johann Sebastian : unspecified fugue, keyboard, C-sharp minor
     • Enis, Leopoldine, Baroness : pf
ŠKROUP, František Jan : Overture from incidental music Žižkova smrt, orch


Advance news of this concert appeared in the Lokalzeitung of Bohemia 22/4/1851. This reported that on the following Saturday the drawing of the lottery arranged for the benefit of the St Lazarus Children’s Hospital would be combined with a concert. The programme was to include a performance by the tenor Mr Ander, and an appearance by another notable singer. No other details were given, although the text commented that ‘both on account of the noble cause of this academy, as well as from the interesting programme ... [the event should be] a brilliant success.’

The Tagesanzeiger texts of Bohemia 24/4/1851 and 25/4/1851 listed the date, time and venue of this event, describing it as a ‘Concert and drawing of the good-cause lottery for the benefit of the Children’s Hospital at St Lazarus [Koncert und Gewinnstverlosung der Wohlthätigskeitslotterie zum Besten des Kinderspitals bei St. Lazarus].’ The second of these two texts also noted that the ‘Eingesendet [notices sent in to the newspaper]’ of that issue also contained details of the event. This text listed the programme in detail, stating that the Baroness Enis, Miss Therese Schwarz, Mr Ander, Mr Haase, Kapellmeister Fr. Škroup, J.N. Škroup, the orchestra leader Mildner and Mr Minkus had kindly agreed to participate. Admission prices were noted to cost 2fl in the hall, to the gallery 1fl and to the orchestra gallery 30kr. A list of establishments (mainly apothecaries) where entrance cards could be purchased was also published.

A declamation of Saphir’s ballade Des Kinders Zuversicht was given by Mr Friz Haase, then an actor in the Estates Theatre, following the performance by the violinist Minkus.

Bohemia 29/4/1851 published a review, signed ‘V.’, of this concert. After reporting that the event was well attended, the critic praised the programme of works given and noted this compared favourably with usual benefit performance of this type. The orchestral numbers were ‘worthy’ and the solo items ‘interesting’. Each of the soloists was described in some detail. Mr Ander showed himself to be ‘a chamber-singer of the highest rank.’ His performance of Hölzel’s Der Schmerz and of Škroup’s ‘with pleasing nationalistic colouring and unusual harmonisation’ Kde vlast je má were praised; the critic hoped that the singer would be heard in this sphere many more times during his stay in Prague. He also performed as an encore an unspecified song in E-flat major that the Bohemia correspondent did not recognize. Miss Schwarz gained ‘the same brilliant and completely deserved success. She was said to have begun her singing career in Prague, and although had suffered a ‘temporary indisposition’ that had compromised her guest performance in the previous year she seemed to have ‘overcome this completely, and today her beautiful alto shone in all its glory.’ The works she performed were listed.

The ‘exceptional virtuoso’ Minkus was reported to be appearing in Prague for the first time. After outlining particular qualities of his playing, which gained great applause, the critic commented upon his composition. This was described as ‘peculiar yet interesting’ in raising itself above the usual level of modern concert pieces and eschewing the commonplace stylistic characteristics of that genre. The contribution of the other solo instrumentalist, Baroness Leopoldine Enis, was deemed to be not only of the highest interest for the audience, but also for the practising musician and for this reason deserved particular attention. ‘She did not play an ostentatious Morceau by Liszt, Thalberg, Wilmers or any of the other current heroes, but the first movement of Beethoven’s D minor Sonata (of which all other modern virtuoso usually play only the charming Rondo), the E minor fugue [almost certainly from the Keyboard Suite no.4] by Handel and at the end, contrary to the usual transcriptions that the enthusiastic public is used to, the C-sharp minor fugue by Seb. Bach.. This was indeed a rare and riskily unconventional debut by a pianist! The unusual choice, the precise performance that was necessitated by these numbers and particularly in the contrapuntal movements, this ... devotion to the deepest aesthetic muse had foreign, owing to it being unfamiliar, effect, but as its success showed the effect was by no means unpleasant.’

Of the two orchestral items, Beethoven’s third Leonore Overture (the review corrected the newspaper’s previous error of noting that the second Leonore Overture was to be performed), was thought not to have been as well played by the orchestra as in past performances. Škroup’s Overture to Žižkova smrt received positive critical appraisal as ‘an effective and characteristic piece.’ After commenting that ‘the composer, F. Škraup [Škroup] used the Hussite hymn with great skill’, the correspondent remarked that the Škroup’s treatment of the themes was far more ‘ingenious and characteristic’ than that of an English composer who, ‘probably enticed by the French title of Liszt’s Paraphrase on this austere but pithy melody’ had utilized the theme in a ‘Zigeunerouverture [Gypsy Overture]’. Neither the English composer nor his work was specifically identified. The piece by Liszt would have been the Hussitenlied on a melody by Krov. After relating that the performance of the Ballade by Saphir also enjoyed vociferous applause, the Bohemia review concluded by noting the presence at this occasion of the Emperor Ferdinand, and that the drawing of the lottery took place following the concert.

A brief, unsigned, review was published in the ‘Z Prahy’ section of Lumír 1/5/1851. This reported that the ‘Concert to benefit the hospital for children at St Lazarus took place on 26th April on Žofín before a very numerous and sophisticated audience.’ Performing were Ander and Miss Schwarzova from Vienna. ‘The audience were enthusiastic to both, especially with the pretty Czech song of Picek Kde vlast je má composed by J.N. Škroup; Mr Ander also performed two Czech songs that we have not heard for a long time. Young Baroness Enisova greatly surprised us with her playing on the piano and with her choice of classical pieces: she played only classical items by Beethoven, Haendel, as well as by the old cantor Šebastian Bach!’ Lumír 1/5/1851 reported that Škroup’s song, ‘which was so tremendously enjoyed in the masterly performance by the Viennese court singer Ander’, had just been published by the firm of Hoffmann.

A notice of thanks dated 16/5/1851 was published in Bohemia 18/5/1851 by the committee of the lottery for the benefit of the Children’s Hospital for all those who contributed to the good cause. The text noted that a profit of 4542fl 54kr had been amassed. This presumably included the proceeds from the concert.

Summary of sources:

Bohemia, ein Unterhaltungsblatt (22/04/1851)
Bohemia, ein Unterhaltungsblatt (24/04/1851)
Bohemia, ein Unterhaltungsblatt (25/04/1851)
Bohemia, ein Unterhaltungsblatt (25/04/1851)
Bohemia (29/04/1851)
Lumír (01/05/1851)
Bohemia (18/05/1851)