Venue: Žofín Island (Žofín Hall)
Event type: Art music culture
Date: 12/03/1862 5pm
Keywords: Foreign monarchies, Foreign towns and cities, Audience attendance, Czech partisanship in, Folk culture, Foreign musicians in Prague, Annual events and regular series, Benefit and charitable events, Genres - Orchestral music, Genres - Secular choral music, Genres - Solo and concertante instrumental music, Genres - music theatre and entr'acte music, Public performance events
According to a brief article published in Národní listy 8/3/1862, this Academic Readers Society concert was originally scheduled to take place on 9/3/1862, but had to be postponed until 12/3/1862 owing to ‘unforeseen circumstances’. Although this article stated that the concert’s ‘interesting programme’ would be published in the following day’s issue of the periodical, the programme first appeared in Národní listy 10/3/1862, as follows:
K. Slavík: unsp. Overture (‘first performance’)
J.L. Procházka: chorus Naše vlast [poss. Naše probuzení (Our awakening), solo v, TTBB chorus); solo v, Hardtmuth, Hlahol male voice singing society
David Popper: Adagio and Rondo from unsp. Concerto, vc, orch; vc, D. Popper. [prob. Concerto, vc, orch, D min, no.1, op.8]
Alois Jelen: song Tam v dáli! (There in the distance!); v, Mrs Josefa Schmidt-Procházková.
Franz Lachner: chorus Na Vltavě (On the Vltava), solo T, solo v, TTBB chorus; Hlahol male voice singing society, dir. J.L. Lukes
W.H. Veit: Concert Overture [D min., op.17, Nocí k světlu (Night to dawn)]
Fr. Škroup: unsp. aria from opera Oldřich a Božena (Oldřich and Božena) [prob. cavatina ‘Mne má žalost omráčí’]; v, Miss E. z Ehrenbergů.
F. Chopin: 2nd and 3rd movs. from unsp. Concerto, pf, orch; pf, Miss Božena Svobodová.
2 unsp. national songs; v, [J.L.] Lukes.
Hynek Vojáček: chorus Před nepřítelem (Before the foe), TTBB chorus; Hlahol singing society.
The German-language newspaper Prager Morgenpost reported on 8/3/1862 that the concert for the benefit of the Academic Readers Society would take place on Wednesday 12th March at 4.30pm instead of on 9th March. On 11/3/1862 Prager Morgenpost then published almost identical news of this concert as appeared in Národní listy 10/3/1862, noting: ‘Concert. For the concert for the benefit of the Academic Readers Society, which takes place on Wednesday 12th March at 4.30pm on Žofín Island, the following programme is contrived...’ The works and participants as noted above by the Národní listy text were then reproduced. However the German-language source rendered the titles of all of the Czech vocal items in German. Thus, for example, Jelen’s song Tam v dáli! became ‘Dort in der Ferne!’.
On 11/3/1862 Národní listy announced that the Hungarian violin virtuoso Eduard Reményi was travelling to Prague from Leipzig in order to appear in the benefit concert for the Academic Reading Society. The programme for this concert that was specified by Národní listy 10/3/1862 then saw various changes, details of which became apparent in the Národní listy reviews published on 13/3/1862 and 16/3/1862, the latter signed ‘Zvř’, in the review signed ‘r-r’ published by Dalibor 1/4/1862, in the Lumír review of 20/3/1862, and in the Prager Morgenpost review signed ‘-ý’ published on 13/3/1862. Thus the unspecified aria by František Škroup from Oldřich a Božena was replaced with one from Libušin sňatek. The chorus Naše vlast by J.L. Procházka was not mentioned by the post-concert reports, or the appearance of the vocalist Hartmuth, who was to have performed the solo part in Procházka’s work. Conversely, the concert reviews reported that in addition to items given by Reményi, the production included a performance of Šťason’s lament from V.J. Tomášek’s set of 6 songs, op.74. This work was not noted in the original Národní listy 10/3/1862 or Prager Morgenpost 11/3/1862 reports.
The programme listed in the main body of this survey is reproduced in the order in which the works were related by the Národní listy 16/3/1862 review. This corresponds with the order of the Dalibor 1/4/1862 review, except that the latter specified the two choruses by Hlahol in reverse order and the two songs given by Mrs Schmidt-Procházková in reverse order. The actual performance sequence cannot be ascertained from the specified reviews, except that Národní listy 16/3/1862 noted that Veit’s Overture was given as the concert’s opening number.
The appearance of Edward Reményi undoubtedly represented the principal attraction of this concert, this being illustrated by the extent to which the account of the violinist’s appearance comprised by far the greater part of the Národní listy review of the production. The Dalibor critic observed of Reményi’s playing that ‘His colossal technical ability, his always clean intonation in the most difficult passages, his astonishing bravura and his great and resounding tone, and finally his particular, expressive performance, places him in the very first rank of virtuosi.’ According to Národní listy 16/3/1862, corroborated by information contained in the Dalibor 1/4/1862 review, Reményi performed the Fantasie on Hungarian national songs twice, the second time introducing Czech national melodies into the work.
Of the Czech artists appearing in this concert, David Popper was commended by both Národní listy and Dalibor reviews for his performance of an extract from his own ’cello concerto, almost certainly his Concerto no.1 in D minor, op.8, published in 1871. The Dalibor critic referred to the work as ‘very successful and prettily orchestrated.’ Of the solo singers ‘all three for their excellent performances were honoured with vigorous approbation and applause.’ The inclusion of an extract from Tomášek’s song collection Vlasta in the concert was praised by Národní listy critic ‘on the one hand for the choice [of this work], and on the other hand for the beautiful, masterly performance by Mr Lukes.’ The piano playing of Miss Svobodová was not detailed by the Dalibor critic, although Národní listy described her as ‘talented’ and ‘well-trained’. The standard of performance of the Hlahol singing society was not remarked upon by either periodical. The only other specific performance description was given by Národní listy of the ‘interesting and artistically dignified’ opening Overture by Veit, which received an ‘adequate’ performance from the [Estates] Theatre orchestra. Dalibor simply described the work as ‘charming and of piquant orchestration’. According to Dalibor the audience attending the concert was ‘very numerous.’
A review of this concert, signed ‘-ý.’ was published by Prager Morgenpost 13/3/1862. The correspondent considered that from the music critic’s point of view the programme itself was not so interesting as previous concerts for the Academic Readers Society. ‘The opening of the concert was with a piece that is not unknown to us, the Overture by Veit, a composition as sublime as it is substantial, which can be counted among the best works of this composer. After that Mrs Schmidt-Procháska [Procházka] sang two songs by Jelen and Franz Škraup [Škroup], as is customary for her with a characteristically intimate expression. The most interesting event was however the Royal English chamber virtuoso Mr Reményi, who in the originality of his outlook and intellect in performance can be considered a match with the leading violinists of our time. He played a Fantasie on themes from Les Huguenots, his own Hungarian folk-piece and willingly perfomed, when the applause was unceasing, a little arrangement of a Czech folksong. The splendidly skilled violoncellist Mr Popper, gave a fragment from his own concert (for the ’cello). He plays truly excellently; yet the composition can in no sense be considered to be of musical worth, it is a work without spirit and life. We will not speak about its form. Miss Božena Swoboda [Svoboda] played very accurately and tastefully two movements from Chopin’s concerto with orchestral accompaniment. Mr Lukes excelled himself through the performance of several Czech songs as well as through the very piously sung solo in Lachner’s chorus “Auf der Moldau”. Miss Ehrenberg [z Ehrenbergů] gained a very favourable success with the E major aria of Libuše from Fr. Škraup’s [Škroup] opera “Libušin sňatek [Libuše’s Dream]”. To conclude was a very precise performance of a chorus by Vojáček “Vor dem Feinde” by the society Hlahol. The artistic direction was by Kapellmeister Mr Mayr [Maýr], except for the chorus by the society’s [Hlahol’s] committee member Mr Heller. There was no lack of atmosphere. The Hall was overcrowded.’ A brief review of this event was published by Bohemia 13/3/1862.
The Lumír 20/3/1862 review, signed ‘a-a.’, of this concert was particularly notable for its brief outline of the concert season and its selective review of this concert for what was considered to be its specifically Czech orientation. The correspondent remarked that the ‘Concert season was at the beginning of the Lent season so busy that it is not possible for lack of space in this journal to mention it all. Many Czech German-language papers have reported on the various: concert of the Academic Readers Society, Conservatory of Music, Cecilia Society, of F. Hasert, Reményi, concert in aid of the fund for free lunches for student lawyers, and finally the annual and weak concert of Gerstberger. Since then it is neither the purpose or place of Lumír to provide judgements about all of these concerts we will confine our consideration to some of the more prominent, classical and Czech concerts. Among these without doubt belongs the concert of the Academic Readers Society. However, it did not breath so much the spirit of Czech music, rather this was an artistic concert for in it participated the luminary and Royal English Court virtuoso Reményi who, in his concerts in Pest and Vienna, was hailed as an artist of the first rank. How he was celebrated in the writings of the Hungarian and German newspapers he laudably proved too in the concert of the Readers Society, for his playing is truly excellent. His artistic repose, great tone, astonishingly awe-inspiring technique and expressive performance, which was evident even in the most brilliant passages, inspired in the audience the greatest admiration. Other beautiful features of his playing are the confidence with which he produces the sound, his excellent flageolet and the lightness with which he executes bravura runs. Reményi entranced the audience with the performance of his Fantasie on themes from Les Huguenots, and following long and stormy applause he added some Czech folksongs among which was the emotive Osířelo dítě [The Orphan]. The other numbers of the concert were also worthy, with performances by the well-known artists Mrs Procházková, Miss z Ehrenbergů and Messrs Lukes and Popper. Mention must be made too about the artistic phenomenom Miss Božena Svobodová, who is well known to the public from her concerts last year of Mr Tržák [Teršák] and of the Czech Beseda. Miss Svobodová exhibited in Chopin’s Concerto (the two last movements) a great and precise technique, artistic execution and confidence, which this not-easy concerto demands. That it was missing some energy in the more exuberant passages was owing to the young lady’s ill health. To begin the two parts of the concert were the happy [zdařilé] overtures by K. Slavík and R. [W.] Veit, which were decently performed by the orchestra directed by Kapellmeister Maýr. The singing society Hlahol performed under the direction of Mr Heller two choruses by Lachner and Vojáček, of which the second was distinguished by its originality. That the attendance was plentiful, as always at this concert, is not necessary to add.’
The order in which the works were performed cannot be identified in full from the various reports and reviews. The Prager Morgenpost 13/3/1862 critic began to describe the concert in performance order but did not continue, noting only that the songs sung by Mrs Procházková followed the overture and the order in which Reményi played his own works. The database record lists the programme in the order in which the works are described by the Prager Morgenpost review with the introduction of the overture by Slavík before the appearance of Svobodová. The interval between the two parts of the concert cannot be ascertained from the periodical sources.