Prague Concert Life, 1850-1881

Event title:

Third annual quartet entertainment [kvartettní zábava / Quartettsoirée]

Venue: Konvikt

Event type: Art music culture

Date: 27/11/1854 4.30pm

Programme comprising:

General participants:
  • KÖNIGSLÖW, Otto von: soloist, vl
  • WEBER, Jan: soloist, vl
  • PAULUS, Alfred: soloist, va
  • GOLTERMANN, Julius: soloist, vc
DREYSCHOCK, Alexander : String Quartet, 2vl, va, vc, A major, op.105
BEETHOVEN, Ludwig van : String Quartet, 2vl, va, vc, nr.16, F major, op.135
HAYDN, Franz Joseph : String Quartet Emperor, 2vl, va, vc, C major, op.76/3, Hob.III:77


Mercy’s Anzeiger 23/11/1854 reported that ‘The Third Quartet-Soirée of Mr von Königslow and Messrs Weber, Paulus and Prof. Goltermann takes place not next Saturday but next Monday 27th November. For this concert-evening [Concertabend] is the following programme established: 1. Quartet by A. Dreyschock (A major, manuscript); 2. Last Quartet of L. v. Beethoven (posthumous work, op.135 F major); 3. Quartet of J. Haydn (C major). No further information was given by this source.

Der Tagesbote
25/11/1854 reported that ‘The third Quartet Soirée given by Messrs Königslöw, Paulus, Weber and Goltermann will not, as was announced previously, take place today but the day after tomorrow, 27th November at 4.30 in the Konvikt Hall’. The programme was listed in performance order, including the tempi markings of each movement of the three quartets. The event was notable for including Beethoven’s final string quartet, Op.135, and that by the virtuoso pianist Alexander Dreyschock. The order of the programme was probably arranged so as not to intimidate the audience by including the more challenging work by Beethoven at the end. Usually in these soirées a Haydn quartet would have been given as the opening number.

The Czech-language periodical Lumír 25/11/1854 reported that the ‘Third of the Quartet entertainments, which Messrs Otto z Königslövu [von Königslöw], Goltermann, Paulus and Weber are giving with excellent success in the Konvikt Hall will be on Monday at 4.30. The programme is again attractive: a hitherto unpublished Quartet in A major by our Alexander Dreyschock, the final Beethoven Quartet (F major) and Haydn’s Quartet in C major.’

An unsigned review of this event was published by Der Tagesbote 29/11/1854. This began by remarking that that ‘the great artistic worth of Dreychock’s Quartet had been written about previously by the correspondent following the first performance of the work in the Clam Palace.’ Warmest thanks were offered by the critic to the artists for including this ‘interesting and dignified’ composition in their programme. Applause from the ‘numerous’ audience greeted each of the four movements. Beethoven’s Quartet evidently puzzled the critic. This ‘is a pathetic work, but only in the sense as being evidence for the often contested fact that the immortal master’s colossal spirit was being fogged by madness at the end of his days. A work written under such a constellation may be suitable to be studied and performed by a gathering of intelligent friends of art, but well-understood piety for the unfortunate hero of sounds should absolutely preclude performance before the public - to the layman it is unintelligible’. The correspondent drew parallels with the tragedy of madness and King Lear, and asserted that only the Adagio in D-flat major with its ‘heavenly melody’ provided a ‘lucidum intervallum’. The performance itself was thought to be ‘deserving of the greatest praise.’ Finally, with its ‘clear melodies’ Haydn’s Quartet was said to provide the greatest possible contrast of effect. The ‘variations on the popular national anthem’ had to be repeated on general demand. Unanimous applause and curtain-calls greeted the performance.

Mercy’s Anzeiger 30/11/1854 published a review of this event signed ‘Z.’ The correspondent related ‘The third Quartet Soirée of Messrs von Königslöw, Weber, Paulus and Goltermann brought us two compositions never before heard here: Dreyschock’s second Quartet in A major and Beethoven’s last-such work, op.135 in F major. The first novelty is worked fluently and tastefully but also contains technical difficulties that the performing artist vies to whose overcome. Beethoven’s Quartet is one of those works from the Master’s late period of his life, in which we encounter alongside moments of genius also remarkably bizarre ideas from the astonishing musician [auch merwürdige bizarre Ideenfolgen]. The second movement is original, entitled Vivace, in the form of a Scherzo in which the top parts are accompanied by a choppy unison figure in the other instruments; the Lento is the clearest [movement] in conception. The Finale is idiosyncratic, at the heart of it lie two main themes presented Grave (with the question: Must it be?) then Allegro (with the answer: It must be!), with the surtitle „der schwer gefaßte Entschluß [The difficult decision to make]“ in which piece the individual parts crisscross one-another in startling fashion . To end we heard Haydn’s Quartet with the National Anthem. The performance of each piece was as always very precise, the Scherzo of the second work and the variations in the final Quartet were encored on the wishes of the numerous audience.   

Summary of sources:

Mercy's Anzeiger für Böhmen (23/11/1854)
Tagesbote aus Böhmen (25/11/1854)
Lumír (25/11/1854)
Tagesbote aus Böhmen (29/11/1854)
Mercy's Anzeiger für Böhmen (30/11/1854)