Prague Concert Life, 1850-1881

Event title:

National beseda [Národní beseda] celebrating the inauguration of the new National Assembly

Venue: Žofín Island (Žofín Hall)

Event type: State or civil events

Date: 08/04/1861

Programme comprising, part i:

General participants:
  • private choir of J.L. Lukes: participating ensemble, vv
  • HELLER, Ferdinand: director of ensemble, conductor
SLAVÍK, Karel : chorus Řekův sen (The Greek's dream), male vv chorus
4 unspecified Czech folksongs, v
     • Blažková, Věkoslava Aloisie : v
PARISH-ALVARS, Elias : Fantasie on Czech folksongs, hrp
     • Mösner, Marie : hrp
LAUB, Ferdinand : Romance from Deux morceaux, vl, pf, op.6
     • Laub, Ferdinand : vl
LAUB, Ferdinand : Concert-Polonaise, vl, pf, op.8
     • Laub, Ferdinand : vl
KŘÍŽKOVSKÝ, Pavel : chorus Utonulá! (Drowned!), male vv chorus
MÖSNER, Marie : Fantasie on Czech folksongs Souvenir de la Bohéme, hrp
     • Mösner, Marie : hrp
NÁPRAVNÍK, Eduard : song I šepce kvítí (Even the whispering flowers), op.2
     • Lukes, Jan Ludevít : v
VOJÁČEK, Hynek : unspecified Czech song, v, pf, hn
     • Lukes, Jan Ludevít : v
LAUB, Ferdinand : unspecified Fantasie for violin, vl, [orch/pf acc.]
     • Laub, Ferdinand : vl
Improvisation for violin on Czech folksong Sil jsem proso (I reaped corn), vl
     • Laub, Ferdinand : vl

Part 2:

General participants:
  • Orchestra of the Prague Civil Sharpshooters Corps: participating orchestra
  • KOMZÁK, Karel: director of ensemble, conductor
NÁPRAVNÍK, Eduard : Overture on Czech folksongs Vlasta, orch
PROCHÁZKA, Jan Ludevít : Quadrille on Slavonic folksongs Slovanská čtverylka (Slavonic quadrille), orch
PIVODA, František : polka Krajanka (Countrygirl), orch
BALFE, Michael William : Overture to opera The Bohemian Girl, orch
HELLER, Ferdinand : polka Starobylná, orch
LUKR, Václav A. : quadrille Srbská kadryla (Serbian quadrille), orch
KOMZÁK, Karel : unspecified mazurka, orch
CHLUPES, J. : kvapík [galop] Dalibor, orch
KOMZÁK, Karel : Quadrille on Czech folksongs Sousedská (Neighbourly dance), orch


According to a brief report published in Národní listy 21/3/1861 this beseda was originally scheduled to take place on 6/4/1861. The first published notification that the date of the event had changed to 8/4/1861 appeared in Národní listy 4/4/1861. This later report noting that the alteration was made because a festival performance had already been scheduled to take place in the Theatre on 6/4/1861. According to Národní listy 2/4/1861 rehearsals for the chorus, the kernel of which comprised the private choir of J.L. Lukes, were to take place at 7pm on 3/4, 4/4 and 5/4/1861 at Žofín. This report also announced that singers who wished to participate in the beseda were to attend the rehearsals.

Prager Zeitung 4/4/1861 reported that ‘a great Beseda [eine große Beseda]’ had been arranged on 6th April in the Hall of Žofín Island on the day of the inauguration of the new National Assembly. Because on the same evening celebrating this occasion a festival performance of a Czech Prologue, a Fest-Ouverture, a one act comedy play Brute pusť Cesara and the first act of the opera Nachlager von Granada was to take place in the Estates Theatre, the Beseda would be given instead on Monday 8th April. Among the soloists was noted to be ‘our compatriot, the Royal Prussian Chamber-virtuoso Mr Ferdinand Laub.’

The beseda itself was clearly a success, the unsigned Dalibor 10/4/1861 review noting that it ‘was one of the most magnificent [besedas] that we have seen in Prague for many years.’ Attending were various Prague nobility, including Counts Forgách, Schlick and Nostic, as well as leading native Czech politicians and individuals, including Palacký and Rieger. The programme was divided into two parts. The first part comprised concert performances of the listed solo and choral works, and the second part included two overtures and various dances. According to this review, the performances of the first part were received enthusiastically, but the critic related that ‘the crown of the beseda was Mr F. Laub, who performed his own Romance and Polonaise, and a Fantasie by Ernst, with unheard of success. It would be futile to propagate words about his masterly playing, so we say only so much, that he played like - Laub. The audience received our famous virtuoso with boisterous applause which, after the performance of the [Ernst] Fantasie, did not want to stop. Laub stepped up after the third [curtain-] call and improvised on the violin [the folksong] Sil jsem proso na souvrati [I reaped corn] and performed excellently different variations on this theme.’ The unsigned Národní listy 10/4/1861 review also reserved its most ardent praise for the Czech violinist, noting how Laub ‘enchanted’ the whole company. He produced ‘sounds like those God created, as clear as crystal water, pure, that revived everyone who heard them, or rather, that trickled into their hearts.’ The Dalibor 10/4/1861 review noted that the committee responsible for organizing this beseda comprised Ferdinand Heller, J.L. Lukes, Emanuel Meliš, Eduard Nápravník and J.L. Procházka. The beseda finished at 3am. The Národní listy 10/4/1861 review stated that the audience dispersed after midnight to the singing of the patriotic songs Hej Slované! [Hey Slavs!], Kde domov můj? [Where is my homeland?] and Slovan jsem a Slovan buď [I am a Slav and will be a Slav].

The programme is reproduced in concert order according to the Národní listy 7/4/1861 report. Certain compositions performed during the second part of the beseda were listed by Národní listy 7/4/1861, but this half of the programme probably included other light works some of which may have been given at the earlier trial for this beseda on 15/1/1861. According to this report, Nápravník’s Overture Vlasta was receiving its first performance.

Summary of sources:

Národní listy (21/03/1861)
Dalibor, hudební časopis s měsíční notovou přílohou (01/04/1861)
Národní listy (02/04/1861)
Národní listy (04/04/1861)
Prager Zeitung (04/04/1861)
Národní listy (07/04/1861)
Dalibor, hudební časopis s měsíční notovou přílohou (10/04/1861)
Národní listy (10/04/1861)