Prague Concert Life, 1850-1881

Event title:

Concert arranged and given by Bedřich Smetana

Venue: Konvikt

Event type: Art music culture

Date: 18/01/1862 5pm

Benefactor: Smetana,Bedřich

Programme comprising:

General participants:
  • SMETANA, Bedřich: soloist, pf
BEETHOVEN, Ludwig van : Sonata for pianoforte, pf, nr.12, A-flat major, op.26
     • Smetana, Bedřich : pf
SCHUMANN, Robert Alexander : song Widmung no.1 from song collection Myrthen, v, pf, nr.1, op.25
     • Ehrenbergů, Eleonora z : v
SCHUBERT, Franz Peter : song Gretchen am Spinnrade, D118
     • Ehrenbergů, Eleonora z : v
BACH, Johann Sebastian : unspecified Gavotte and Gigue, pf
     • Smetana, Bedřich : pf
CHOPIN, Fryderyck Franciszek : unspecified Étude, pf, F minor
     • Smetana, Bedřich : pf
PIVODA, František : song Na mou vlast (To my country), v, pf, op.4
     • Pivoda, František : v
SCHUBERT, Franz Peter : song Ungeduld no.7 from song cycle Die schöne Müllerin, v, pf, D795
     • Pivoda, František : v
arr. Smetana, Bedřich: Der Neugieruge , pf
     • Smetana, Bedřich : pf
SMETANA, Bedřich : unspecified piano work Souvenir de Bohème, pf, nr.2
     • Smetana, Bedřich : pf
LISZT, Franz : unspecified piano work, pf
     • Smetana, Bedřich : pf
SMETANA, Bedřich : unspecified Polka de salon, pf
     • Smetana, Bedřich : pf


According to reports published by Národní listy on 3/1/1862 and 16/1/1862, this concert was to take place on 18/1/1862. The later Národní listy notice stated that the production would begin at 5pm. Prager Zeitung 17/1/1862 reported that ‘Mr Friedrich Smetana arranges on Saturday afternoon at 5pm in the Konvikt Hall with the participation of Miss von Ehrenberg [z Ehrenbergů] and Mr Pivoda his second and last concert.’ Inaccurately the subsequent Dalibor 1/2/1862 review stated that the concert had occurred on 19/1/1862.

The Czech-language periodical reports were in agreement over the content of the programme, except that the preliminary listing of the programme by Národní listy 16/1/1862 included no mention of Smetana’s Polka de salon, or of any work by Liszt. Concerning the Souvenir de Bohême, Smetana composed two sets of polkas, op.12 and op.13, bearing this title. Unfortunately, contemporart periodical reports do not indicate which of these two works was given on this occasion. Dalibor 1/2/1862 stated that Smetana played ‘no.2’, but did not specify whether this was from op.12 or op.13.

The programme is reproduced in order corresponding with the Národní listy 16/1/1862 report, with the addition of the Polka de salon and the unspecified work by Liszt. The unsigned Dalibor 1/2/1862 review noted that the concert was a splendid success and attracted a large audience. Of Smetana’s performance the critic commented that ‘In all the numbers [. . .] especially in Beethoven’s A-flat major Sonata and following that in Bach’s fugal composition, he testified to be a true artist.’ His playing was described as ‘sure’ and ‘polished’, lacked ostentatious display and exhibited the most refined taste. The works by Chopin, Schumann, Liszt and by Smetana himself were performed ‘with extraordinary bravura.’

A review, signed ‘!!’, was published by Prager Zeitung 21/1/1862. After first stating that Smetana was one of the most distinguished pianists of the day, the critic proceeded to note that ‘few of his compatriots are on the same level of perfection.’ Setting apart his playing from his rivals was considered to be his rigorous interpretation, attention to detail and inspired performance. ‘His second concert, this time given in the Konvikt Hall, was despite its being part of the motley Carnival [season] a brilliant success. Beethoven’s Sonata in A-flat major op.26, Bach’s Gavotte and Gigue, a Nachtstück by Rob. Schumann and the F minor Étude by Chopin comprised the classical numbers by foreign composers, which the composer just as magnificently performed as his own compositions, namely a transcription of Der Neugierigen by Schubert, and a Souvenír de Bohème Nr.2. Naturally, the numerous audience was not satisfied with these pieces and so Mr Smetana afterwards performed two more. Miss Ehrenberg charmed us through the performance of Widmung by Schumann and of Gretchens am Spinnrade by Schubert. Also Mr Pivoda brought to the concert a pleasant diversity with the expressive performance of the songs Na vlast of his own composition and Ungeduld by Schubert.’

Summary of sources:

Národní listy (03/01/1861)
Národní listy (16/01/1862)
Prager Zeitung (17/01/1862)
Prager Zeitung (21/01/1862)
Dalibor, časopis pro hudbu, divadlo a umění vůbec (01/02/1862)