Prague Concert Life, 1850-1881

Event title:

Benefit concert in aid of free meals for students of the three Prague Gymnasia

Venue: Žofín Island (Žofín Hall)

Event type: Art music culture

Date: 01/04/1857 4.30pm

Season: Lent

Beneficiary: Poor students of Prague Gymnasia

Programme comprising, part 1:

SCHINDELMEISSER, ? : Overture Mondnacht auf stillen Wasser, orch
MARSCHNER, Heinrich : aria of Bois-Guilbert from act 2 of opera Der Templer und die Jüdin, v, orch
     • Steinecke, ? : v
SCHUMANN, Robert Alexander : Concerto for piano and orchestra, pf, orch, A minor, op.54
     • Grünberger, Ludwig : pf
ROSSINI, Gioachino Antonio : aria unspecified, from opera Semiramide, v, orch
     • Acs, ? : v
SPOHR, Louis : aria unspecified, from opera Jessonda, solo v, orch
     • Lukes, Jan Ludevít : v

Part 2:

CHERUBINI, Luigi : Overture to opera Medea, orch
UNSPECIFIED, ? : unspecified songs [Lieder], v, [pf?]
     • Acs, ? : v
RIETZ, Julius : unspecified Concertstück for oboe and orchestra, ob, orch, F minor, op.33
     • Schubert, Vilém : ob
SCHUBERT, Franz Peter : song no.18 from song cycle Die schöne Müllerin, v, pf, op.25, D795
     • Steinecke, ? : v
unspecified Czech folksongs, v, [pf?]
     • Lukes, Jan Ludevít : v


Mercy’s Anzeiger first reported in daily news published in the issue of 23/3/1857 that ‘The concert for the benefit of free meals for poor Gymnasium students is to be scheduled for 1st April in the Hall on Žofín Islands. Several of the most important musical forces of our city have kindly promised their participation.’ On 30/3/1857 the newspaper announced the date, programme and participants of the concert, and listed the works to be given in projected performance order. A day later Tagesbote aus Böhmen 31/3/1857, also published news of the concert and gave identical programme details: ‘Programme to the concert taking place tomorrow at 4.30 in the Žofín Island Hall for the benefit of the poor students of the three Prague Gymnasia: Overture „Mondnacht auf stillem Wasser“ by Schindelmeisser. Aria from „Templer und Jüdin“ by Marschner, sung by Mr Steinecke. Concerto for piano by R. Schumann, performed by a student of Mr Risch. Aria from „Semiramis“ by Rossini, performed by Miss Sarolta Acs. Aria from „Jessonda“ by Spohr, performed by Mr Lukes. Overture to „Medea“ by Cherubini. Lieder, sung by Miss Acs. Concerto for oboe by Rietz, performed by Mr Schubert, member of the Estates Theatre orchestra. „Trockene Blumen“, Lied by Schubert, sung by Mr Steinecke. Czech folksongs, sung by Mr Lukes.’ However, the participation of Mr Lukes in the concert was not confirmed by either of the subsequent Mercy’s Anzeiger or Tagesbote aus Böhmen reviews of the event. Neither did the reviews mention the performance by Miss Acs of an aria from Rossini’s Semiramide. These items of the programme have been listed in the database event record, although they may not have been given.

The review signed ‘Z.’ that was published by
Mercy’s Anzeiger 3/4/1857 reported that ‘The concert in the Žofín Hall for the benefit of poor Gymnasium students was numerously attended.’ After listing the soloists the source reported that the performance by Mr Grünberger was particularly interesting, particular on account of the ‘not very well appreciated choice [of work], Schumann’s A minor Concerto. He is a pupil of the celebrated piano teacher Mr Kisch and has given his début with good success, that his performance demonstrated all the attributes of a splendid schooling... only it may be said that he did not make the fullest impression in the performance of the concert-piece as a whole. The individual soloists gained approving applause. The [Estates] Theatre orchestra under the direction of Kapellmeister Mr Tauwitz performed Cherubini’s Overture to Medea, and then as a novelty the Overture Mondnächt auf stillen Wasser of Schindelmeisser. The last composition contains really characteristic orchestration and has been worked with thoroughness and diligence.’

A brief report listing concerts taking place in Prague during the forthcoming week was published by Tagesbote aus Böhmen 27/3/1857, noting amongst these that there would be one for the benefit of free meals for students of the two Gymnasium classes. Tagesbote aus Böhmen 31/3/1857 published news of the ‘Programme to the concert taking place tomorrow at 4.30 in the Žofín Island Hall to benefit of poor students of the three Prague Gymnasia...’ The programme and participating soloists were then listed by the source. The newspaper published a review, signed ‘-h.’, on 2/4/1857. This reported that ‘
The concert held for the benefit of free meals for Gymnasia pupils enjoyed a crowd as huge as any of the charitable concerts that are held in our capital, which in this respect [i.e. in number of benefit concerts] show no sign of dwindling. The most colourful and lengthy programme included two orchestral pieces: first Schindelmeister’s Overture Mondnacht auf stillem Wasser, a sketch in sound, whose artistry was on the same level as the landscape images of the [Hall’s] transparent window blinds, of that banal type that might be the most to blame for the fact that Hanslik [Hanslick] and his followers now want to give music the capacity - or, as this cannot be wholly denied, the right - to fully take on a material meaning, thus surely throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Cherubini’s solidly-cast, fiery Medea overture was the second orchestral piece. Mr Steinecke sang, with full accompaniment, the colossal, energy-sapping aria of Bois-Guilbert from Marschner’s Templer und Jüdin; Miss Acs performed a big aria from Rossini’s Semiramis and well deserved the lively curtain call that it earned her. A young pianist, Mr Grünberger, who played the first movement of Schumann’s A-minor concerto, does - like recently [in a concert given by the] little Gottlieb - all credit to the method of his teacher, Mr Kisch. His touch, even if not always in the correct ratio of strength to the orchestra, is round and elastic; his passage work is well-practised, and what is more, an intelligent interpretation of the difficult subject-matter was evident from the way that the young pianist knew how to pursue the main theme clearly and firmly. But, leaving aside the aptitude with which Mr Grünberger fulfilled his task, there should be established an essential prerequisite for the performance of Schumann works just as there is for the entitlement to draw bills of exchange: that given the depth of their ideas that can only be penetrated by the mature eye, the performer must at least have reached the age of majority. The second half of the concert programme included Lieder performed by Miss Acs and Mr Fekter and an oboe concerto; the reporter, however, beckoned by the pleasant prospect of three hours of Verdi in the theatre, denied himself these pleasures, and not a few of his fellows accompanied his escape.’ The comment by the reviewer likening the Overture to the window blinds gave an indication of the decor of the hall during concert performances.

Besides containing a review of this concert, Tagesbote aus Böhmen 2/4/1857 also published news of the concert’s material success. It reported: ‘Yesterday’s concert for the benefit of poor students of the three Prague Gymnasia (for free meals) had an unusually pronounced success, indeed such [a success] as it had not had in any other years. The public was greatly inspired by this particular good cause, and appeared in such an unusual number that the profit of the concert amounted to 2000fl gross, of which 1800fl could be used immediately for poor students. This will bless 120 of them [i.e. students] with free place settings.’     

Summary of sources:

Mercy's Anzeiger für Böhmen (23/03/1857)
Mercy's Anzeiger für Böhmen (30/03/1857)
Tagesbote aus Böhmen (31/03/1857)
Tagesbote aus Böhmen (31/03/1857)
Tagesbote aus Böhmen (02/04/1857)
Tagesbote aus Böhmen (02/04/1857)
Mercy's Anzeiger für Böhmen (03/04/1857)