Prague Concert Life, 1850-1881

Event title:

Third and final concert-soirée given by violinist Ferdinand Laub and pianist Vilém Graf

Venue: Konvikt

Event type: Art music culture

Date: 24/03/1857 5.15pm

Season: Lent

Programme comprising:

General participants:
  • GRAF, Vilém: soloist, pf
  • LAUB, Ferdinand: soloist, vl
GADE, Niels Wilhelm : Novelletten for piano trio, pf, vl, vc, op.29
     • Goltermann, Julius : vc
VENZANO, Luigi : [aria] Grande valse, v, orch
     • Mathias, Elizabeth : v
ERNST, Heinrich Wilhelm : Introduction, Caprices and Finale on a theme from opera Il Pirato, vl, pf, op.19
LITOLFF, Henry Charles : Étude Les Arpègges, pf
BEETHOVEN, Ludwig van : Romance for violin and orchestra, vl, orch, nr.1, G major, op.40
KÜCKEN, Friedrich Wilhelm : unspecified song [Lied], v, [pf]
     • Reichel, Josef : v
LAUB, Ferdinand : unspecified Czech song, v, [pf]
     • Reichel, Josef : v
GRAF, Vilém : unspecified Romance, pf
GRAF, Vilém : piano piece La gazelle, pf
PAGANINI, Nicolò : Variations on a song by Süssmayr Le Streghe, vl, orch, op.8


Mercy’s Anzeiger 20/3/1857 reported that ‘The third and last Concert-soirée of Messrs F. Laub and F. Graf is arranged for next Tuesday (24th March). In this there will be participating Miss Matthias from Paris and Professor Goltermann’. The date, time, venue, programme and participants to this third soirée by Laub and Graf was published by Mercy’s Anzeiger 24/3/1857. The time was noted to be ‘5¼ hours’. Usually events took place either on the hour or 30 minutes past, and this may have constituted an error in the newspaper’s reporting; an advertisement appearing in Tagesbote aud Böhmen 24/3/1857 noted that the concert was scheduled for 5½ hours. A review, signed ‘Z.’, appeared in this newspaper on 26th March. This noted that the soirée was ‘just such a brilliant concert-evening as the two previous [soirées]. The artists performed first with the participation of Professor Goltermann a very virtuoso rendition of the the „Novelleten“ [Novelletten] by Gade for piano, violin and ’cello. This composition comprises a sequence of five individual self-contained movements, of which the second final numbers are most distinguished by the originality and vivacity of their ideas. Of the solo pieces Mr Laub played the „Pirata-Fantasie“ by Ernst, the „Romanze“ in G major by Beethoven and Paganini’s „Hexenvariationen.“ His incomparable mastery was particularly evident in the last-named bravura piece through the amazing purity of the so difficult flageolet double-stopping, and inspired sensational enthusiasm among our audience. Numerous curtain-calls followed each of his pieces. Mr Graf again demonstrated all the merits of a splendid salon-pianist in performing the Étude „Les Arpègges“ by Litolff, then a Notturno and the „Gazelle“ of his own composition, and was similarly rewarded with applause and curtain-calls. In addition we heard Mr Reichel perform a song by Kücken, then a Czech song by Laub, which on universal request he encored. A very numerous audience was present.’

The German-language Prague newspaper Tagesbote aus Böhmen 21/3/1857 reported: ‘The last Concert-Soirée of the magnificent artist-duo Laub and Graf takes place next Thursday with a very appealing programme. Particularly noteworthy of our attention is a novelty by Gade, „Noveletten“, for piano, violin and ’cello. Prof. Goltermann will in this take the ’cello part... Also... Miss Mathias from Paris will perform a brilliant concert piece, a bravura waltz by Venzano. Graf will perform Litollf’s „Arpegges“, then a Romance of his own composition and on request his graceful „Gazelle“, Laub Ernst’s Pirata-Fantasie and the famous „Hexen-Variationen“ by Paganini. Full details of the programme appeared in an advertisement published by the newspaper on 24/3/1857 announcing: ‘Today 24th March Last Concert-Soirée of the Concert master Ferdinand Laub and the pianist Wilhelm Graf in the Konvkit Hall at 5.30pm. Programme. 1. Noveletten for pianoforte, violin and violoncello by N.W. Gade, performed by W. Graf, F. Laub and Prof. Goltermann. 2. Bravour-Waltzer by Venzano, sung by Miss Matthias. 3. Pirata-Fantasie by Ernst, performed by F. Laub. 4. Les Arpégges, for pianoforte by W. Graf. 5. Lieder, performed by Miss Matthias. 6. Romanze for violin by Beethoven, performed by F. Laub. 7.a) Romanze, b) by request, La Gazelle composed and performed by W. Graf. 8. Hexenvariationen by Paganini, performed by F. Laub. From particular respect for the concert-giver have Miss Matthias from Paris and Mr Goltermann promised their participation.Tickets in the Circle at 2fl, the Hall at 1fl and Gallery at 30kr are to be obtained in the Art and Music Shops of Christoph and Kuhé, and J. Fischer.’

An unsigned review of the concert was then published by Tagesbote aus Böhmen 25/3/1857. The correspondent reported that ‘Yesterday’s concert soirée given by Messrs Laub and Graf was the most brilliant and best-attended from among the three most interesting concerts ever given by the virtuoso duo. From one number to the next the audience became more animated, and admiration culminated in the last piece, the Hexenvariations [Variations on a theme by Süssmayer, Le Streghe] by Paganini, in a manner that for the artists was as spectacular as it was flattering. There were a number of men in the hall who had heard these variations performed by the daemonic Paganini himself, and that Laub, in the comparison that a man can now not help but make under any circumstances, was mentioned with honour is the greatest compliment that can be made of this artist. They were saying that Paganini himself could not conjure forth the flageolet notes more cleanly and flute-like; likewise his playing was no more shapely, nor more fluid nor more lyrical. On the other hand, the tone is said to have been often broader and more powerful, the musical declamation sharper, more cutting and more electrifying. And if this piece, demanding the highest technical accomplishment and overstraining every nerve, showed Mr Laub to be an elegant and masterful virtuoso par excellence, then the Romance, which in every respect is less stormy than is general in Beethoven’s music, revealed him as a musician of manly strength and good taste. Between these two very different pieces—if not in terms of difficulty, though this was still very great, then certainly in terms of character – was the Pirata Fantasie by Ernst with its beautiful melody and of high artistry in the filigree of musical arabesques delicately interlaced around it. Laub’s fiery, effervescent and yet also so gentle bowing achieved an outright triumph here, which the tender little hands of all the women present did their utmost to realise. If we are devoting more attention here to Mr Laub than to his colleagues, this is because he is again leaving Prague today, and so we shall have to do without his bewitching playing for a long time. Mr Graf, however, is staying here for a longer time and we will still sometimes have the opportunity to hear his pure, thorough and often brilliant playing, and will be able to relish it, in particular, more completely in larger-scale works. Today Mr Graf performed Les Arpégges by Litolff with great bravura and pure, sonorous elegance and lightness, then a soulful nocturne of his own composition, in which he demonstrated the coquetry of his flowing, almost bell-like tone with taste and grace, and ended with his agreeable and melodious Gazelle, which he also performed in the previous concert to great acclaim. Since we began this review with the end of the concert, we shall now conclude with the beginning. Gade’s Noveletten for piano, violin and cello are little, well-rounded pieces, clear, pleasing and with a pensive narrative quality, although they are not of great profundity nor gravity. In any case we are indebted to Messrs Graf, Laub and Goltermann for the performance of this interesting trio. Mr Reichel kindly stepped in to replace Miss Matthias, who was taken ill, and sang two tasteful Lieder, which he followed after stormy applause with a third, a Czech song, as encore. The three concert soirées of Messrs Laub and Graf have thus far been the most pleasant of the season, and for the fifth year we look forward once again to their next occurrence.’

The programme listed in advance of the concert reported that Miss Matthias was to have performed unspecified ‘songs [Lieder]’. The two quoted reviews differed in their specifying the works given by the singer Reichel. Mercy’s newspaper reported that a song by Kücken was performed and one Czech song by Laub that was encored. Der Tagesbote reported that Reichel song ‘two tasteful Lieder... followed... with a third, a Czech song, as encore.’ The programme order of the database event record corresponds with the Mercy’s Anzeiger review.

Summary of sources:

Mercy's Anzeiger für Böhmen (21/03/1857)
Tagesbote aus Böhmen (21/03/1857)
Mercy's Anzeiger für Böhmen (24/03/1857)
Tagesbote aus Böhmen (24/03/1857)
Tagesbote aus Böhmen (25/03/1857)
Mercy's Anzeiger für Böhmen (26/03/1857)