Prague Concert Life, 1850-1881

Event title:

Concert given by Russian violinist Dimitri Svěčín

Venue: Estates Theatre

Event type: Art music culture

Date: 04/07/1862 7pm

Season: Summer

Programme comprising:

General participants:
  • SVĚČÍN, Mikuláš Dimitri: soloist, vl
  • Estates Theatre orchestra: participating institution, orch
SPOHR, Louis : Overture from opera Faust, orch
VIEUXTEMPS, Henri : Concerto for violin and orchestra, vl, orch, nr.2, F-sharp minor, op.19
MARSCHNER, Heinrich : aria unspecified, from opera Der Vampyr, solo v, orch
     • Bachmann, Eduard : v
WILLMERS, Rudolf : Scène chantante for violin and pianoforte Ode á l'amour, vl, pf, op.30
SPOHR, Louis : aria unspecified, from opera Faust, v, orch
     • Ehrenbergů, Eleonora z : v
arr. Svěčín, Mikuláš Dimitri: G. Donizetti: scène de tombaux from opera Lucia di Lammermoor , improvisation for vl


Lumír 26/6/1862 reported that then visiting Prague were some important Slavic artists including the ‘Russian Mr Mikuláš Dmitriev Švěčin, first violinist in the Imperial Opera in Petersburg, who will appear here in some concerts.’

A theatre bill for this event was published by Bohemia 4/7/1862 announcing ‘Concert of the Royal Russian Chamber-Virtuoso Mr Dimitri Swetschin’. This was followed by a listing of the programme in performance order. The concert was preceded by a performance of the one-act comedy play Feur in der Mädchenschule, translated from the French of Förster. A theatre bill, giving the same information but presented in a slightly different format was published by Prager Morgenpost 4/7/1862. On the previous day the theatre bill appearing in Prager Morgenpost was headed ‘Friday 4. July 1862. (Subscription nr.149.) First Concert of Mr N.D. von Swetschin.’

A review, signed ‘-ý.’, of this concert was published by Prager Morgenpost 6/7/1862. ‘Among all types and sorts of concert performers (the pianist implictly in the first rank), the violinist has perhaps the most difficult profession. The demands of technique are astonishing... such that the audience does not hear or feel but marvels. By all means, it is honorable indeed when a virtuoso gains such a success as did Mr von Swetschin giving a concert on Friday in the Royal Estates Theatre. His absolute mastery of his instrument, infallible in surmounting all difficulties, he proved in the most elaborate obstacles of the F-sharp minor Concerto by Vieuxtemps.’ The critic then went on to describe the violinists playing in more detail.

The Dalibor 10/7/1862 review of this concert, signed ‘-oe-’, noted that Svěčín ‘testified to be an accurate and laconic performer; his tone is strong and capable of all nuances... Except for a few moments, his intonation was entirely clean, his bowing exemplary. As to bravura, we cannot truly place him above other artists, yet it is clear that all three items of his programme contain unusual difficulties, and Mr Svěčín very efficiently and tastefully performed [each work].’ The item ‘Artôt’s Scéne [Scène] de tombaux [tombeaux] de Lucia de Lammermoor’ was most likely a fantasie or improvisation by Svěčín himself on themes from act 3 of Donizetti’s opera Lucia di Lammermoor, for which the singer Désirée Artôt was particularly famous for her performances, and not a composition by ‘Artôt’. All three artists were noted to have received many curtain-calls. Miss z Ehrenbergů and Bachmann were identified by the periodical as having performed ‘two German songs’, the specific compositions not being identified.

Lumír 10/7/1862 published a review signed ‘a-a.’ The critic reported that ‘The music-loving public was afforded the opportunity to hear a virtuoso on the violin who already in his tender youth was acknowledged as an artist, and to marvel at the exquisite playing of Mr Dimetrěva Nikolajevič Svěcina, the Russian chamber virtuoso.His concert taking place in the Estates Theatre had a numerous audience and a very splendid success. The concert-giver played the second Concerto by Vieuxtemps, ode à l’amour by Wilmers and an aria by Donizetti without any extraneous effects and with particular calmness, confidence in performance, cleaness of technique: in short his performance revealed a true artist whose playing eschewed superfluous effects and only exhibited love for his art, The audience, acknowledging foremost his faultless and cleanly artistic playing, recognized this Slavic artist with much stormy applause. The excellent supporting participants in this concert Miss z Ehrenbergů performed an aria from Spohr’s Faust and Mr Bachmann, who sang an Aubrey’s aria from Marschner’s Vampyr and was noisily applauded. The concert began with a precise and detailed performance of the Overture from the opera Faust of Spohr, and was very prudently directed by Mr Mildner, the leader of the Estates Theatre orchestra.’ The review concluded by noting that another concert would be given by Svěčin on 11/7/1862 in the Konvikt Hall. 

Prager Zeitung 6/7/1862 published a review of this concert, signed ‘!!’. The critic described in detail the violinist’s style, character and ability as a performer and noted the works that he played.

Summary of sources:

Lumír (26/06/1862)
Prager Morgenpost (03/07/1862)
Prager Morgenpost (04/07/1862)
Prager Zeitung (06/07/1862)
Prager Morgenpost (06/07/1862)
Dalibor, časopis pro hudbu, divadlo a umění vůbec (10/07/1862)