• On music and the Jagiellonians

Barely had I posted about the arrival of a new collection of essays on early Polish music (New ‘Eastern European Studies’ series) than one of its editors, Paweł Gancarczyk, drew my attention to another volume that he has co-edited, with Agnieszka Leszczyńska, and which came out last year: The Musical Heritage of the Jagiellonian Era (Warsaw: Instytut Sztuki PAN, 2012).


It is, unfortunately, the case that many Polish academic publications, even when specially produced in foreign-language editions, rarely escape to wider audiences.  Yet this collection of twenty seven essays, nineteen of which are in English, eight in German, has a range and line-up deserving of international appreciation.  It shares a few authors with The Musical Culture of Silesia before 1742 (see preceding post) but it has a broader geographical and musical reach.  Together, their forty eight essays are a fascinating insight by current authorities into several centuries of Poland’s musical and cultural history.

The Musical Heritage of the Jagiellonian Era

Elżbieta Witkowska-Zaremba: Patterns of music education in Central Europe in the fifteenth century: codices with the Jagiellonian mark
Jūraté Trilupaitiené: Musical culture of the Jagiellonian dynasty in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania: between sacrum and profanum
Dominika Grabiec: Musical motifs in Christ’s Passion: the Mocking from the Holy Trinity Chapel at Lublin Castle and miniatures from the Cracovian Dominican meditations (ca. 1532)
Hrvoje Beban: Inter arma (non) silent musae.  Renaissance musical culture in Croatia during the reign of the Jagiellonian dynasty
Elżbieta Zwolińska: Einige Bemerkungen zu den musikalischen Kontakten zwischen dem Hofe der letzten Jagiellonen und dem Habsburgerhause
Eva Veselovská: Mittelalterliche Notationssysteme vom Gebiet der Slowakei aus der Wendezeit des 15. und 16. Jahrhunderts
Veronika M. Mráčková: Staff notation in sources from the convent of St George in Prague
Jan Ciglbauer: Neumarkter Cantionale: Geistliche lateinische Lieder um 1470 und ihre Vergangenheit in mitteleuropäischen Handschriften
Ian Rumbold: Austrian or Bavarian?  Hermann Pötzlinger’s music book (Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 14274): a new source of information
Katelijne Schiltz: Rosen, Lilien und Kanons: Die Anthologie Suavissimae et iucundissimae harmoniae (Nürnberg, 1567)
Christian Thomas Leitmeir: Teodoro Riccio’s Liber primus missarum (1579): a musical ambassador between Prussia and Poland
Marc Desmet: Establishing a chronology of Jacob Handl’s printed masses.  Evidence and problems
Barbara Przybyszewska-Jarmińska: An overlooked fantasia for instrumental ensemble by Francesco Maffon.  GB-Och MSS Mus. 372-376 as a vestige of Paweł Działyński’s diplomatic mission to England in 1597?
Pawel Gancarczyk: Musical culture of the Teutonic Order in Prussia reflected in the Marienburger Tresslerbuch (1399-1409)
Bartosz Awianowicz: The Graeco-Latin vocabulary of Petrus Wilhelmi de Grudencz
Gioia Filocami: The musical taste of Archbishop Ippolito I d’Este between Hungary and Italy
Thomas Napp: Upper Lusatia: cultural transfer and spatiality in early modern Central Europe
Danuta PopingisDas singende Uhrwerk zu Füßen von König Zygmunt August – ein Beitrag zur Herkunft des automatischen Glockenspiels im Rechtstädtischen Rathaus von Danzig
Janka Petőczová: Musical culture in Bardejov (Bártfa, Bartfeld, Bardiów) in the mid-sixteenth century
Agnieszka Leszczyńska: A common musical tradition: links between Upper Hungary and Prussia around 1600
Marta Hulková: Musikalische Handschriften von der Wendezeit des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts in der Musikaliensammlung von Levoča (Leutschau/Lőcse)
Magdalena Walter-Mazure: On how the nuns sang Vespers in fractus – alternatim practice in liturgical music of Polish female Benedictines
Julia Miller: Luca Marenzio: questions of performance in Poland and Italy
Reinald Ziegler: Claudio Monteverdis Publikation einer Messe und einer Vesper 1610.  Zum transfer von Kompositionstechniken im konfessionsverschiedenen Umfeld, oder: Welche kompositorischen Impulse gingen von einem heute als epochemachend empfundenen Werk aus?
Teresa Krukowska: Wie europäisch war des musikalische Repertoire der polnischen evangelischen Kantonalien im 16. Jh. und wie europäisch ist es heute?
Anna Ryszka-Komarnicka: An episode from the reign of King Władysław II Jagiełło of Poland in Gismondo re de Polonia, a dramma per musica by Leonardo Vinci (1727)
Marco Beghelli: An imaginary Poland in nineteenth-century opera

• New ‘Eastern European Studies’ series

The postwoman’s just delivered the first volume in a new series, ‘Eastern European Studies in Musicology’.  It’s a collaboration between the University of Wrocław and the German publisher Peter Lang, under the general editorship of Maciej Gołąb (Wrocław).  I should declare an interest in so far as I am on the Editorial Board, along with colleagues from Brno, Vilnius, Lviv, Moscow and Budapest.  The series promises to bring not only new perspectives on music from this wide geo-cultural area but also the writings of a host of authors to the attention of a broader public.  This new volume sets the benchmark.

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The Musical Culture of Silesia before 1742 contains twenty one essays under the editorship of Paweł Gancarczyk (Warsaw), Lenka Hlávková-Mráčková (Prague) and Remigiusz Pośpiech (Wrocław).  Why the specific date, 1742? This was the year that Silesia came under Prussian rule.  Prior to that, it had been subject to centuries of shifting political and cultural influences (which of course did not stop then).  The wonderfully varied contents of this first volume reflect this history.  Sixteen of the essays are in English, the remaining five in German.  There are plentiful illustrations, an index of people mentioned in the essays, but no author biographies except academic affiliations at the top of their contributions.

The Musical Culture of Silesia before 1742

Elżbieta Witkowska-Zaremba (Warsaw): Early Keyboard Music in Sources from Prague and Silesia
Veronika M. Mráčková (Prague): The Silesian Tradition of Hymns to Czech Saints
Jan Ciglbauer (Prague): Two Alleluia Chants in Nicolaus Cosel’s Manuscript: On the Creation of New Liturgical Music in 15th-Century Central Europe
Paweł Gancarczyk (Warsaw): A New Fragment of 15th-Century Polyphony in Silesia and the Tradition of the Central-European Repertory
Lenka Hlávková-Mráčková (Prague): Die Saganer Stimmbücher (Das Glogauer Liederbuch) und die Traditionen des polyphonen Liedes in Mitteleuropa
Jaap van Benthem (Utrecht): Die Saganer Stimmbücher (Das Glogauer Liederbuch): eine unbeachtete Quelle für Johannes Tourout?
Jacobijn Kiel (Houten – Heřmánkovice): Two Anonymous Salve Settings in Warszawa, Biblioteka Uniwersytecka, RM 5892
Christian Thomas Leitmeir (Bangor): Lutheran Propers for Wrocław/Breslau: The Cantus Choralis (1575) of Johannes Knöfel
Marc Desmet (Saint-Étienne): Jacob Handl’s Compositions Preserved in the Brzeg Manuscript Collection: Presentation and Chronological Clues
Bernhold Schmid (Munich)Nach dir, Herr Christe, thut mein hertz verlangen. Ein unbekanntes Kontrafakt zu Jacob Regnarts Tutto lo giorno aus der Bibliothek des Gymnasiums in Brieg
Thomas Napp (Reichenbach): Transferprozesse zwischen Görlitz und Breslau am Beispiel des Meistergesangs im ausgehenden 16. Jahrhundert
Janka Petőczová (Bratislava): The Role of Silesia in the Development of Musical Culture in the Towns of Spiš/Zips and Šariš/Scharosch
Paulina Halamska (Warsaw): Protestant Elite Milieu in the 17th-Century County of Kłodzko/Glatz as Exemplified by the Family of the Wrocław/Breslau Organist Tobias Zeutschner.  Gloss to the Biography
Tomasz Jeż (Warsaw): Jesuit Melodrama in Baroque Kłodzko/Glatz
Barbara Przybyszewska-Jarmińska (Warsaw): Marcin Mielczewski (d. 1651) and Alberik Mazák (1609–1661): A Silesian Perspective
Grzegorz Joachimiak (Wrocław): A Week in the Blacksmith’s Life: Lutenists from Silesia and Bohemia around Count Losy von Losinthal (1650–1721)
Remigiusz Pośpiech (Wrocław): Ein Schlesier aus Oppeln in Prag: Franz Ludwig Poppe (1671–1730) und seine Werke in tschechischen Sammlungen
Václav Kapsa (Prague): On the Way from Prague to Wrocław: Sacred Music by Early 18th-Century Prague Composers in Silesia
Marc Niubo (Prague): Bernard Artophaeus and Bohuslav Matĕj Černohorský.  Casual Examples of Czech Music in Baroque Silesia or the Last Traces of Music by Minorities in Wrocław?
Dominika Grabiec Warsaw): The Motif of «Deafening with Trumpets» in Central European Passion Iconography, the Religious Renewal Movement «Devotio moderna» and Reform of the Begging Monastic Orders
Martina Šárovcová (Prague): Choral Books from the Observant Franciscan Monastery in Wrocław from the End of the 17th Century.

• Baroque Rocks

I’ve just returned from recording another interview for BBC Radio 3, this time for The Early Music Show.  I almost didn’t make it, as I thought it began an hour later than it did and it took a wild cross-country dash to Radio Devon in Plymouth to get me into the studio only 15 minutes late.  Not 20th-century Polish music this time, but a recording of Polish gems from the Baroque period. I was probably brought in only because I can pronounce the composers’ names …!  It was fun talking with Lucie Skeaping and no doubt the producer Chris Wines will make sense of my bzdura (gobbledegook).

I am constantly amazed by the richnesses of Polish music before 1750.  The great misfortune is that most of us never hear it.  Why?  Well, so little has survived multiple acts of war (notably World War II), so little was printed at the time, and very few CDs and scores make it outside Polish borders today.  When a rare concert of early Polish music takes place, do go, as you will be astonished by its beauty and vitality.  Happily, Radio 3 picked up a concert given by the Retrospect Ensemble at last year’s Lufthansa Festival in London and is broadcasting most of it on The Early Music Show – alongside another concert of early Polish music – on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 February, 13.00-14.00:

Adam Jarzębski (before 1590 – after 1648): Canzon quinta
Mikołaj Zieleński (c.1550 – c.1616?): Domus mea
Stanisław Sylwester Szarzyński (fl.1692 -1713): Iesu spes mea
Adam Jarzębski: Chromatica
Damian Stachowicz (1658-99): Veni consolator
Grzegorz Gerwazy Gorczycki (1665(7?)-1734): Completorium

Jarzębski has left only 27 compositions, all instrumental.  He was a talented man: composer, violinist, poet, author of the first ever guide to Warsaw, and architect to the king.  The title of his Chromatica reveals its unexpectedly dark heart, which seems to have sprung from a madrigal [the automatic spell-checker ‘corrected’ this to ‘marital’] by Monteverdi or Gesualdo.  All that’s missing is an Ohime! or two.  Here’s a video which aptly counterpoints the music with pictures of the Ujazdowski Palace just outside Warsaw’s city centre.  In Jarzębski’s time, it would have been in the country.  Its appearance today is rather more developed than it was when Jarzębski was its Intendant of Works.

The vocal pieces in the broadcast are very varied, ending with one of the glories of the Polish Baroque, Gorczycki’s Completorium, with its inspired mix of stile antico and stile moderno.  For now, here’s one of the other great beauties of this period, Iesu spes mea by Szarzyński.  This Cistercian monk left barely a dozen pieces, but this is a real jewel.

It’s particularly interesting because it is based on a Polish hymn for the dead and does interesting things with the tune.  Here’s the original hymn – Przez czyśćcowe upalenia – and translation of the first verse:

Through purgatorial fires (Przez czyśćcowe upalenia)
Which take away the sins (Którzy gładzą przewinienia)
Shedding tears without consolation (Łzy lejąc bez pocieszenia)
They beg Your mercy (Żebrzą Twego użalenia)
O Mary! (O Maryja!)

Szarzyński takes this, puts it into 3/4 with the first downbeat on the first Bb, and ornaments it.  The hymn itself is strangely constructed in its phrasing (though it’s quite typical for Polish hymns and folk tunes), but Szarzyński does wonderfully unexpected things with it.  The soprano’s first entry – ‘Jesus, my hope, my comfort’ (Iesu spes mea, Iesu solarium meum) – has two four-bar phrases followed by a five-bar phrase, and this fluid approach continues once the two violins enter.  Yet such ‘irregularities’ seem relaxed and unforced.  I particularly like the contrasting. almost desperate urgency of the middle section, with its repeated alliteration – ‘In you will I hope, to you will I cry out, I will sing to you, I will adore you, I will beseech you, I will give you my heart’ (In te sperabo et reclamabo, tibi cantabo, te adorabo, te invocabo, tibi cor dabo).

This concert performance by the Polish group Risonanza is a bit slow for my taste, there is some audience noise, and the camera position means that the vocal soloist is mostly out of sight … But listen to Retrospect Ensemble on 26 February for a really tight interpretation and a fantastic diminuendo at the very end.

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