For an instant insight into the cultural life of Prague from its resurgence in 1862 there is no more beguiling route than a glance at the album of Ludevίt Procházka. Today his name is known mostly to Smetana specialists but during his life he was at the heart of Czech cultural life. An amateur musician (on his completion [End Page 657] of his law studies in 1863 he worked in the law courts and later at the Prague city council), he was a founding member of many Czech cultural societies, he reviewed music for the national newspaper Národnί listy, he founded and edited the music periodicals Hudebnί listy and Dalibor, and was co-founder of the long-lived Czech music publisher Hudebnί matice Umělecké besedy. In 1868 he married the singer Marta Reisinger, whose career took the couple in 1879 to Hamburg, where he helped initiate the foreign publication and performance of some of Smetana's works. He died in 1888, leaving an album in which he had mounted the cartes de visite of many of his acquaintances, among them Prague cultural figures (especially composers and performers), industrialists, philanthropists, and visiting performers.
The arrangement of the album does not entirely stem from Procházka. After it was acquired by the Smetana museum in 1926, thirty-three cartes from Procházka's Nachlass were added to the sixty-three already in place. So it made sense for Jana Vojtěžková and Jiřί J. Kroupa to disassemble the album digitally and present the cards in alphabetical order. The design of their edition is such that the cartes, with their obverses printed together with the picture sides, appear on right-hand pages—a full page when there are two cartes, half if only one. A systematic description of studio, photograph, dedication, inscription, and shelfmark follow; a bilingual text in Czech and English translation fills out the rest of each opening. The texts provide a biography of the person depicted on the carte followed by an account of his or her connections with Prague and, where appropriate, with Procházka himself. Each entry is followed by a detailed bibliography of sources: standard works of reference, published memoirs (sometimes providing a lively physical description of the person), and period sources. The printing, with the sepia tints of the photographs adding much period charm, is to the high quality already familiar from the Museum of Czech Music's annual Musicalia, also edited by Jana Vojtěžková, a substantial dual-text journal that for seven years has specialized in presenting lavishly illustrated articles based on the holdings of the museum.
Not all the cartes have personal associations with Procházka. Cartes de visite served both as personal visiting cards and as easily bought picture postcards of famous people, and some in the album were of composers with whom Procházka had no personal contacts (Auber, Berlioz, Glinka, Gounod, Paganini, Rossini, and Verdi). In such cases the commentary is assiduous in mentioning works by these composers which Procházka knew or, in the case of operas, could have seen. Of the ninety-seven cards in the album, thirty-five bear inscriptions (twenty explicitly dedicated to Procházka). A few come from visiting artists such as Hans von Bülow, the tenor Paulo Augusti and his wife, and the violinist Eduard Remenyi, but most are of the Czech great and good of the time. The range of occupations represented in the album is surprisingly wide. While over half are musicians (composers, performers, conductors) there are also writers, playwrights, aestheticians, painters, theatre critics, journalists, lawyers, teachers, as well as philanthropists, entrepreneurs, merchants, and even a lone pork butcher.
Given Procházka's Pan-Slavonic sympathies (from 1874 he served as choirmaster of the newly established Russian orthodox church in Prague), the abundance of Russians is understandable. These include the violinist Vasily Vasileyvich Bezirsky and the singer, choirmaster, and folksong collector Dimitri Alexandrovich Agrenyev-Slavyansky (two...