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At the concert, in theater, in circus and in a café

The nineteenth century created a phenomenon of leisure culture, which in cities was primarily the domain of the middle classes. Nitschmann, who was both a burgher and a rentier, had in practice an unlimited amount of free time. People of this kind living in Elbląg could not complain about a lack of entertainment, even though their town was rather provincial. Because of its location, it was often visited by famous German artists on their way to Petersburg. However, musical life was dominated by men’s choral societies, as choral singing enjoyed great prestige in Germany at the time. Church choirs also played an important role, especially the one in the Virgin Mary Church, which represented a very high quality. A popular entertainment were theatrical spectacles, especially the adaptations of German classics, but also farces and operettas, which were highly appreciated by the Elbląg citizens. Many residents, including Nitschmann, loved circus, for example, the shows of the Carré troupe from Vienna, which specialized in equestrian vaulting. The nineteenth century was also the time of cafés. In addition to a cup of coffee or a piece of cake, the clientele of the cafés could also read the newspapers subscribed to by the owner. There were elegant city cafés, such as the Maurizio, which opened in Kowalska Street at the beginning of the nineteenth century, but also the unpretentious cafés on the outskirts of the city, where one could stop during a trip to the suburbs. One of the latter was an inn in Bażantarnia called Pfarrhaeuschen, where guests could prepare their own coffee.
Illustrations (from left):
1. A poster with a program for the performance of the Carré Circus in Elbląg on May 7, 1862.
2. A theater poster for the play Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by W. Shakespeare, performed at the Municipal Theater in Elbląg on September 27, 1855.
3. A poster for an illusion performance by the Russian prestidigitator Hermann Monhaupt, held at the Municipal Theater on April 1, 1862.
Fishing boats moored at the Fish Market on the Elbląg river. A postcard from the early twentieth century. The collection of the Museum of Archeology and History in Elbląg.