Prague Concert Life, 1850-1881

Event title:

Benefit concert given in aid of the homeless Prague poor

Venue: Žofín Island (Žofín Hall)

Event type: Art music culture

Date: 12/05/1861

Season: Summer

Programme including:

General participants:
  • Prague Conservatory: participating orchestra
  • MILDNER, Mořic: director of ensemble, conductor
AMBROS, August Wilhelm : Overture to play Das Kätchen von Heilbronn, orch
BELLINI, Vincenzo : recitative and aria unidentified, from opera La straniera, v, orch
     • Brenner, Johanna : v
JIRÁSEK, ? : song Země česká (Czech land), v, [pf]
     • Brenner, Johanna : v
UNSPECIFIED, ? : unspecified violoncello piece, vc, [pf?]
     • Schmidt, Heinrich : vc
MÖSNER, Marie : Fantasie on Czech folksongs Souvenir de la Bohéme, hrp
     • Mösner, Marie : hrp
KAREL, Alois Věkoslav : unspecified Overture, orch
     • Karel, Alois Věkoslav : conductor


The unsigned Národní listy review included critical commentary upon the overtures by Ambros and Karel. The former was praised for imaginative and knowledgeable use of different instrumental sounds, the reviewer noting that ‘The primary colouring of the overture is reminiscent of the colouring of [works by] ‘norských’ (Norse) composers, it is not fiery, red-hot, but hazy, and somehow Ossianic.’ The Overture by Karel ‘testifies to the rare gifts of this still young composer. The ideas... are lively, in places original, the orchestration splendid, but consistency is lacking in the working of the main motives. But this is not surprising; for all young and talented composers suffer this fault, that they prefer to pass from one thought to another than to be sure that the last drop [of potential] is drained [from each motive.]’ Karel, it was asserted, was not fastidious in his thoughts, letting ideas remain in the work ‘that would have been better left out.’ The audience’s response to the piece, which the young Conservatory pupil himself conducted, was ‘encouraging’. Of the participating soloists in the concert, Miss Brennerová sang ‘with complete artistry.’ Her enunciation of Czech was ‘distinct beyond expectation’ but the critic complained that ‘it was pity that she did not choose a more tasteful composition.’ The solo ’cellist, erroneously identified as ‘A. Schmit’ and the harpist Marie Mösnerová were enthusiastically praised. The former, who was noted to be from Moscow, was Heinrich (Jindřich) Schmidt, born in Karlovy Vary c.1807 and later principal ’cellist in the court theatre in the Imperial capital. He moved to Prague in 1861, becoming Professor of ’cello at the Conservatory on 1/10/1861 after Julius Goltermann. Prague periodicals initially seemed to confuse Heinrich with a contemporary, André (also known as Hans) Schmidt, a German composer who also worked in Russia at the same time as his namesake. At the end of the concert encores were given by Miss Mösnerová, who played her own composition upon Czech folksongs, and by Miss Brennerová, who repeated the song by Jirásek [probably Jírovec’s then popular song Země česká].

The Národní listy reviews notes that the works by Ambros and Karel opened and ended the concert respectively. The order of performance of the other works cannot be identified. However, the source notes that between the third and fourth items Mrs Burggrafová performed two declamations, the second titled ‘the little word “Na”’.

Summary of sources:

Národní listy (18/01/1861)