Prague Concert Life, 1850-1881

Event title:

Third annual Conservatory concert

Venue: Estates Theatre

Event type: Art music culture

Date: 02/04/1857 7pm

Season: Lent

Programme comprising, part 1:

General participants:
  • Prague Conservatory: participating orchestra
ADELBURGŮ, August, rytíře z : unspecified Overture, orch
LUDWIG, Johann : Introduction and Rondo for two oboes and orchestra, 2ob, orch
     • Ludwig, Wenzel : ob Dvořák, Václav : ob
SCHUBERT, ? : Concerto for four horns and orchestra, 4hn, orch
SPONTINI, Gasparo : aia unspecified, from opera La Vestale, v, orch
     • Soukupová, Marie : v
BERR, Friedrich : Variations for clarinet and orchestra, cl, orch
     • Hensel, Josef : cl
BÉRIOT, Charles Auguste de : Adagio and Rondo Russian Rondo, vl, orch
     • Slanský, Ludevít : vl Bauš, František : vl Kulik, Josef : vl Schmidt, Franz : vl Proksch, Anton : vl Pawelka, Anton : vl Chrs, Josef : vl Lejsek, Alois : vl Till, Wilhelm : vl Tomášek, Theodore : vl Schütz, Eduard : vl Melaun, Anton : vl

Part 2:

MOZART, Wolfgang Amadeus : Symphony, orch, nr.40, G minor, K550


Tagesbote aus Böhmen 29/3/1857 published a repertoire list for the forthcoming week in the Estates Theatre. This noted: ‘2nd April., Concert for the Conservatoire.’ Tagesbote aus Böhmen 31/3/1857 reported ‘The third concert of the Conservatory takes place on Thursday 2nd April 1857 in the Royal Estates Theatre at 7pm. The programme is as follows: First part: Ouverture romantique by August Count von Adelburg (new). 2. Introduction and Rondo for 2 oboes by J. Ludwig, member of the Munich Court Orchestra, performed by Wenzel Ludwig (accepted [into the Conservatory] in 1854) and Wenzel Dvořák (accepted [into the Conservatory] in 1852) (new). 3. Concertstück for 4 Waldhorns by W. Schubert, member of the Prague Theatre Orchestra, performed by Ferdinand Willner, Gotthard Schindelař, Johann Pekarek and Josef Diessl (accepted in 1852) (new). 4. Aria from the opera: Die Vestalin [La vestale] by Spontini, sung by the opera school pupil Marie Soukup. 5. Variations for the clarinet by Beer, performed by Josef Hensl (admitted 1852). Adagio and Rondeau russe for violin by Beriot, performed by twelve pupils: Ludwig Slansky, Franz Bausch, Josef Kulik, Franz Schmid, Anton Proksch, Anton Pawelka, Josef Chrs, Alois Leisek, Wilhelm Till, Theodor Tomaschek, Eduard Schütz and Anton Melaun (accepted in 1852). Second. Symphony (G minor) by Mozart.’ A theatre bill, listing the programme in full and the participating soloists, was published by Tagesbote aus Böhmen 2/4/1857.

Lumír 2/4/1857 published news of this event, reporting the date and venue, and listing the works given in the ‘weighty’ programme as well as participating soloists. The programme was noted to comprise two halves; the second half was made up of Mozart’s G minor Symphony; the first half began with the Overture by August z Adelbergů. The soloists in the Concerto for four horns were not specified. No further details of this event were given by this issue of Lumír.

Mercy’s Anzeiger 29/3/1857 published a brief repertoire list for the following week of events taking place in the Royal Estates Theatre. This list noted that taking place on Thursday 2nd April was ‘Concert for the benefit of the Conservatory.’ On 31/3/1857 this newspaper reported the date, time, venue, listed the programme in performance order with the participating soloists.

A substantive review, signed ‘-h.’, of this concert was published by Tagesbote aus Böhmen 4/4/1857. The correspondent reported: ‘The third Conservatory concert took place yesterday evening in the theatre, with a very interesting programme and to brilliant success. It began with an Overture written for the Prague Conservatory itself by August Ritter von Adelburg and was so positively received that Director Kittel was obliged to present the composer twice to the enthusiastic audience. Adelburg’s great talent comes across in his works with such self-awareness and resolution that everything that we have said recently about his Symphony must also readily apply to this Overture, composed in the same spirit. The greatest merit of the work is its apprehending and remaining with that mood which the composer intended by his titling it ‘Overture romantique’, in which he demonstrates true genius. A genuinely romantic magic sounds through the whole, nourished by the rich fantasy and the unique daring and impetus of this highly-spirited composer. In our conception – and it may drive the protagonists of formal-music that is incapable of meaning ‘to tear out their hair and climb up the walls’ – we hear in Mr von Adelburg’s Romantic Overture a whole magic steed: in the first movement we could hear the cry for help of the princess under the spell, the struggle of the courageous knight against giants and fiends, and his final triumph was not lost on us in the final surging Allegro. This first movement, in E minor, is a real jewel for its two melodies as well as in its completely originally conceived orchestration with its remarkable sense of colour, and if the Allegro stood as high in terms of clarity, scale of forces and rounding, then this overture would be fit to be placed on an equal rank with the highest classical art treasures known to us of this form. The first theme, in the minor, first heard on the basses, is, like an Italian mosaic, split up into fine, individual effects, pizzicati, flute passages, etc, and this effect is most conducive to the elegiac tone of the motif. The second, by contrast, in E major, as it were the yearning for deliverance – since the same motif, at the end of the piece but with larger dynamics, itself indicates the deliverance – appears, concisely and without any splitting, in the strings. The first half of the Allegro brings a motif in E minor, pulsating with the greatest turbulence, and a beautiful, calming one in G that is first played on the cellos and then elaborated by the harp, an instrument for which the composer’s poetic temperament had a special affinity. Sadly, from the moment of this second theme onwards, the thinking musician drops sharply back behind the feeling poet; his fire is no longer so concentrated as before, it splutters from time to time with pointless and ineffective sparks to the side. As concerns technique, again, as recently in the symphony, we encounter oppressive accompaniment figures, drawn-out developments and irresolute lingering at the turning-point moments; indeed in the deepest thicket of the magic part the composer gives up his compelling uniqueness completely to stray into the most unmistakable vestige of Wagner (the upward-driving figures against static diminished-seventh chords). The entry of the pompous E-major motif, however, returns the listener’s impressions to their earlier, higher level; yet the overture does not then die away, but rather turns to a tender recollection of the introduction, and then fades away softly.

Overall, Mr von Adelburg’s Overture, even more than his Symphony, has us believe in a much-discussed independent talent of considerable importance. His impetuosity does not alarm us; a disposition capable of pouring out the andante of this Overture has so much calm and gravity that all the Sturm und Drang that we observe in this moment of torn proportions and violation of the instrumentation must presently be calmed into pure beauty.

Of the pupils presented the twelve violinists, who played an immensely suggestive Rondo russe by Beriot, conducted by Prof. Mildner, made the most vibrant sensation, both with their touch and razor-sharp evenness of unison in the subtlest nuances of the theme, and in the broad, brilliant cadenza which, after two stormy curtain calls for the admirable Prof Mildner, had to be repeated. Of the other pupils (we heard two oboists, four horn players and a clarinettist) the latter was most remarkable for tone and accomplishment. From among the concert pieces performed, the Concerto for four french horns and orchestra by the Prague oboist Schubert deserves special mention for its meticulous, symphonically broad form and potent ideas. Miss Soukup [Soukupová], in Julia’s big scene from Die Vestalin, demonstrated a voice that shows promise of greatness, and in the period of a year has further matured to great effect. That the deep, fully developed expression affecting tenderness and ardour would not be expected of this young pupil is understandable; also, the selected piece is too deeply rooted in the stage for it to make its full effect in a concert setting. But it would not be unfair to demand the correct mastery of technical requirements, such as the breath handling of the portamento, etc, from a fourth-year pupil, and in this regard little of what we have heard from Miss Soukup has been satisfactory.

Mozart’s splendid G-minor symphony, performed with consummate skill, sustained the wonder of the audience to the end, although the long concert almost exceeded three hours.’

A general review of all three Conservatory concerts given in March and April 1857 was published by Lumír 9/4/1857. The correspondent remarked that the concerts given by the Conservatory stood out from almost all other local concerts ‘through their aptly chosen and perfectly performed programmes, combined with  deeper expression that... [characterizes] the fundamental musicality of our nation. Of these characteristics were this year’s three concerts on 8th, 22nd March and 2nd April. Among the instrumental compositions attracting particular attention was the Symphony in A major from the deep-thinking Beethoven, the Symphony in G minor by capricious Mozart and the Symphony in A major of our excellent countryman Abert, in lyrical and deftly worked themes, in varied orchestration and instrumental effects proving himself to be an auspicious follower of Beethoven. In addition we heard the well-turned [ladný] Overture Nachklänge von Ossian
by the dreamy [snivého] Gade, then the Overture to King Lear by the fantastic Berlioz, and a romantic Overture by Count z Adelbergů. The performances of all of these works was so tasteful and so precise that some of the old guard of our musicians should give way to these young novices. Of the soloist pupils [of the Conservatory], particularly appreciated were the bassoonist J. Chalupecký, flautist Václav Strnad, clarinettist Josef Hensl, violoncellist F. Klomínek and oboists V. Ludvík [Ludwig] and V. Dvořák, who difficult, concertante compositions slickly and cleanly performed and showed themselves to be worthy students of their teachers. A great sensation caused the young violinist Hřímalý, who was accepted into the institute last year, and who with rare ability and bravura performed a Fantasie by Ernst, and together with his master Mr Milder was [re-]called. So too were the 12 violinists who performed an adagio and rondo by Bériot in unison. Upon finishing this formidable work, the audience responded with so noisy applause that the pupils had to repeat part of the composition. Less splendid success had however the arias sung by Misses Kropová, Medalová and Soukupová. The fault lies more in impractical education and the pedagogical thoughtlessness of their teacher than in the voices of the pupils themselves. All of the young ladies have pleasant and sonorous voices, that of Miss Soukupová especially voluminous and sweet. Nevertheless, their progress is not as great as we would expect from so talented singers. Of all the pupils of this year we prophesy Soukupová to have the prettiest future... [possessing] unmistakable ability and her voice has already has stood examination with complete safety. Finally, it is appropriate for us to praise the director Bedřich Kittl, who has tried everything possible to improve the institute and raise it above others of this type.’

The criticism of the singing pupils was directed at the methods and aesthetic outlook of the then incumbent Professor of song at the school, Gordigiani.

Summary of sources:

Mercy's Anzeiger für Böhmen (29/03/1857)
Mercy's Anzeiger für Böhmen (31/03/1857)
Tagesbote aus Böhmen (31/03/1857)
Lumír (02/04/1857)
Tagesbote aus Böhmen (02/04/1857)
Tagesbote aus Böhmen (04/04/1857)
Lumír (09/04/1857)
Tagesbote aus Böhmen (29/04/1857)