The MOST CULTURED mayor

SKMBT_C224e15112510431-1M. Wolfram was not only the head of the town hall but also an artist who attracted big crowds to Teplice.

Teplice really brimmed with life at one point. The fame of the spa town attracted a varied range of guests, and was graced by royalty and elevated by noted artists every year. Teplice evidently had a lot to offer, but it had to gain its reputation of “the Salon of Europe” and to maintain it by exercising the utmost care. If the spa town was to be one of the centres of European social and cultural events, it was necessary for it to be headed by a personality that would represent its standards appropriately. Thus, the mayor should not only be a capable officer and a conscientious administrator of public affairs; moreover, this position required the ability to communicate with the intellectual elite of the time and, in fact, to influence it.  

In 1824 Teplice found such a man in Josef Matyáš Wolfram. A graduated lawyer, originally from the Pilsen District, found himself in Teplice after a short career as a court officer and advocate and was appointed as its burgomeister at the age of 35. He remained in this position until his death in 1839, and the fifteen years of his work at the helm of the town rank among the most famous that the town has ever seen.

Josef Wolfram had for a long time considered what course in life he should take, as from his childhood he had devoted himself to music, this interest of his grew even greater at the grammar school in Pilsen, and when he studied in Prague and Vienna he devoted all of his leisure time to musical education with the leading composers of that period. It was perhaps because of his frail health that he eventually gave up the career of a freelance artist and decided to occupy himself with music only when his main occupation would allow him to do so. And it seems that Teplice was the luckiest choice that Wolfram could have made. When he became its No. 1 man he had a whole range of excellent compositions that had not been published, but the best of them were already circulating in Czech and Austrian salons. It was Teplice, however, that provided him with the right environment, a multitude of stimuli and room to develop what was dearest to him.  

Alfréd, Okouzlená růže, Normani na Sicílii, Princ Lízinka, Beatrice, Mnich z hor, Zámek Candra, these are the names of some of his operas. Their premieres, which were often directed by Wolfram himself, took place on leading European stages, particularly in Prague, Dresden and Berlin. But it was the guests to numerous parties in Wolfram’s apartment who were the first to hear the operas. Alexander von Humboldt, František Palacký, Niccolò Paganini, King Frederick William IV of Prussia and many others would come there one after the other. It came as no surprise that when Wolfram was offered the chance to take over the bandmaster’s post at the Dresden Court Opera from Carl Maria Weber who had suddenly passed away, he stayed in Teplice without question. His operas were successfully performed throughout Central Europe, he welcomed the most respected elite of the period to his town, and direct contact with artists, scientists and intellectuals inspired him to do other activities. He himself was their great host and he strived to ensure that Teplice was a better and better place for both physical and mental purification and inspiration. So, one of Wolfram’s last feats was the foundation of a spa orchestra, which is still active in Teplice as the North Bohemian Philharmonic today. However, Teplice has yet to see the revival of his musical composition and social legacies.

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