Prague Concert Life, 1850-1881

Venue details

Venue name: Deutsche Casino

Venue rooms (type):

Deutsche Casino. Prague German social society, existing in the 1860s, probably as a social venue and gambling house, but during the 1860s being reorganised into a society and club for patrons. From a report appearing in Prager Morgenpost 4/10/1863 this re-organisation probably took place in 1861, the newspaper noting that ‘The second birthday of our Society falls on the even of the nameday of His Majesty... [the Emperor Franz Josef].’

According to Prager Morgenpost 1/1/1863 located in the rooms of the first floor of the former Count Auersperg’s Palace in Michelská ulice. A notice from the directorship of the Casino to its members was published by Prager Morgenpost 26/8/1863 noting that restauration work at the new venue of the Casino – ‘breite Gasse Nr.736 Likawetz’sches Haus’ – was so far advanced that the Reading Room of the venue would be open on 27th August 1863. At the old venue in the Auersperg Palace, Prager Morgenpost 2/9/1863 noted a new café [‘so elegant, that it ranks among the most beautiful of all Cafés in our city’] came into existence.

Work on the new venue was reaching completion at the end of September 1863. The imminent opening drew a descriptive report from Prager Morgenpost 22/9/1863, relating that the workers were fully engaged in putting the finishing touches to the new locale for its opening on 3rd October. ‘The venue is very large and appropriate for all purposes we might expect. In the facilities solid elegance is coupled with comfort. The patrons, those who enjoy reading the news, as well as those who are addicted to passing their time at the gambling tables, will here have sufficient opportunity to partake [of these pursuits]. There is a choice of nine large and spacious rooms, [and or including] a pretty hall for arranging Garlands [Kränzchen – lit. ‘garland’, musical entertainments of lighter character] and dance entertainments. We believe that this salon will give a deep feeling of satisfaction to the patrons of the Casino, in that the previous localisty of the German Casino did not have a room with the capacity for such an entertainment.’ The report ended by noting that good food and drink were available and related that the venue had gas lighting.

The opening of the new Casino venue on 3/10/1863 was confirmed by the Tagesanzeiger published by Prager Morgenpost 3/10/1863: ‘Opening of the new venue of the German Casino, Breite-Gasse Nr.736-2.’ An extensive review of this event – spanning the best part of two columns of the newspaper – was published the following day in Prager Morgenpost 4/9/1863. The correspondet, signed ‘n.’, wrote: ‘German Casino. It was a true and uplifting festival evening, which the members of the German Casino celebrated as they came together once again, after a break of many weeks
, in the new venue; the great and lengthy thirsy of the daily growing number of newly joined members could not have been better sated. With real contenment we felt at home in these new rooms, notwithstanding their vast extent and expansiveness which made such an agreeable impression on the visitors, so too they captivated with soothing and pleasing elegance, endowed with felicitous comfort.

At yesterday’s Evening the ten large salons had a particularly festive complexion, the splendid gilt gas-chandeliers strewing a sea of brilliance. The Reading Room is particularly comfortably equipped. It is very tempting, to settle back in the soft velvet armchairs and immerse oneself in the reading the abundant choice of newspapers available. Only when the sound of the felicitous musical ensemble under Komsak’s [Komzák] personal direction swept over them and
when the valliant singing society Flöte performed one of its uplifting and poignant Lieder, were these the Gazetteophiles drawn out of their Buon reitro to join with enthusiastic voice in the applause.

In precise accordance with the programme, the Festival evening commenced at 8 o’clock. After a toast was raised, the Deputy Dr Schmeykal addressed the assembly with a speech,
repeatedly interrupted by animated applause. After the speaker had offered his address, which he gave in the name of the directorate to greet the members from the old venue that had become known as the „Cradle of the Society“ to the fitting new location, he then passed over the difficulties that had had to be overcome, before the members could be provided with a worthy venue, then finished with a flourish, with ardent sentiment and enthusiasm speaking the words:...’ Schmeykal’s closing speech – steeped in congratulatory rhetoric –  was then reproduced. After expressing wishes for the future success of the Casino in its new venue, he indulged in an outpouring of patriotic German sentiment, giving a clear signal as to how the Casino was very much a ‘Deutsche’ institution and providing an interesting perspective upon how educated Germanically orientated society in Prague viewed the broader political and national situation between themselves and their Czech compatriots. Schmeykal asserted: ‘The German mind does not aspire to wanton infringement of the rights of the other nationalities of our common Fatherland. But while this is true we are unbending in our resolution to uphold at least the equally valid right of our homeland, the sacred title to which is founded in our history, our birthright and in our work, to preserve this for future generations and to not permit its reducion by even the width of a hair.’ These aspirations Schmeykal applied to the Society and to its ongoing success, even, he said, in the face of reproach from opponents. This was followed with the note (as outlined at the head of this database venue entry) that the second anniversary of the Casino was on the even of the nameday of the Emperor Franz Josef. The speech ended with a customary hail to the Emperor.

See also:

Events taking place at this venue (18)