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Conference and Talk Marathon 2022, including Great Britain and Greece

In the second half of 2022, the pandemic situation made it possible to travel and meet in person without major restrictions after long months, and the calendar of team members quickly filled up with postponed and pre-planned events in the Czech Republic, finally with the participation of foreign researchers, and abroad. On the last day of May, the team members organized a workshop on the manuscripts that were the focus of research in the third and fourth year of the grant: the so-called Vyšehrad Cantionale from the 1460s, famous for its rich selection of Czech and Latin sacred hymns, and a lesser-known corpus from the late 15th and early 16th centuries, known in the literature as the "Speciálník of Prague", which contains a uniquely rich monophonic and polyphonic repertoire for the Virgin Mary (see Workshop May 2022).

In the hot days of July, Jan Ciglbauer travelled to London to present a paper at a conference on music at universities (Music and the University History), while Hana Vlhová-Wörner spent an extraordinarily inspiring week at a workshop on the history and culture of the St George's Monastery in Prague, where she presented a paper on the uniquely rich set of Benedicamus domino chants from the late 13th and early 14th centuries (an extended version of the paper will be published in the leading journal Early Music in early 2023).

Undoubtedly the highlight of the year was the team's participation in the regular five-year conference of the International Musicological Society, held in Athens, August 22-26 (https://www.musicology.org/ims2022). Due to the competitive selection of papers from the high number of abstracts submitted, it was a great honour for the project to include a full panel entitled "Old Myths, New Facts: the Historiography of Fifteenth-Century Music in the Czech Lands between Nationalism and Globalism" in the main programme, with presentations by Jan Ciglbauer, Lenka Hlávková, Viktor Velek and Hana Vlhová, who also chaired the panel. The papers were based on chapters on song production, sequences and polyphony in the "long" 15th century, prepared for a joint publication by the project members, and Hussite motifs in Czech modern music culture (Musica Hussitica Moderna). An abstract of the entire panel and individual papers is included at the end of this post. Jan Hajič also presented an independently accepted paper at the conference, introducing the innovative concepts in the digital edition of the famous Jistebnice Cantionale, which he is developing in collaboration with H. Vlhová-Wörner.

The autumn season was opened with the international conference "Musical Interactions, 1400-1650", which was organised by the SMNF project together with the CELSA project (KU Leuven) (more information and programme was published in the news section). In the welcoming premises of the Czech Museum of Music in Mala Strana, forty participants from all over Europe gathered to discuss the musical sources of the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, with a special focus on the dissemination of musical repertoire in Central Europe. The proceedings with printed and extended versions of the papers are being prepared by the main organizers of the conference, including Lenka Hlávková.

Members of the team remained in Prague in November. Jan Ciglbauer gave a lecture on music at the University of Prague on 3 November 2022 at the Golden Ring House. The lecture, "Music in the 14th and 15th century Prague University colleges", was part of the series Prague by Music, organized for the public by the Prague City Museum. Approximately 25 visitors, who completely filled the small lecture hall, had the opportunity to learn about the musical past of today's Karolina Světlá Street in the Old Town, where Reček College and the Church of St. Stephen in the Wall stood in the 15th century. Hana Vlhová-Wörner returned to the premises of the St. George's Monastery at the beginning of the Middle Ages on the occasion of the international workshop "Queens, Noblewomen, and Burgher Women, 1300-1550: Initiative-takers or Passive Patrons", jointly organised by the Institute of Art History of the Czech Academy of Sciences and the Masaryk Institute of the CAS (annotation and conference programme) on 10-11 November. In her paper dedicated to the breviaries of Abbess Kunhuta, she had the opportunity to present the unique and originally elaborated system of private prayers of this Přemyslid princess.



Old Myths, New Facts: Historiography of Fifteenth-Century Music in the Czech Lands between Nationalism and Globalism

(Abstracts from the OMNF panel at the IMS 2022 conference in Athens.)

Music and musical culture in the long fifteenth-century, the period of the first late-medieval reform movement and the formation of the Czech identity, hold an exclusive position in Czech history. Its reflection in modern historiography and the subsequent use or misuse of historical facts in political discourse at the beginning of the twentieth century and during the Communist regime is therefore relevant. The limited possibilities of scholarly exchange and accessibility of sources before the 1990s also meant that musicological research in countries of the Eastern Block focused on “local” topics in "local" contexts, with its results remaining mostly unreflected in Western musicology. In the period of digital libraries and other useful tools, we now find ourselves experiencing almost unlimited access to valuable information. However, outdated narratives (“old myths”) prevail not only in student books and popular music journals, but also in comprehensive volumes of influential international publications. The proposed round table will present research conducted within the project “Old Myths, New Facts: Czech Lands in Center of 15-century Music Developments”. The contributions will demonstrate how problematic the traditional historiographical narratives are and how we can approach them to create a picture of musical history based on our current knowledge of sources and their international contexts.


Sequences in Late Medieval Bohemia: Genre, Form and Function Transformations

Hana Vlhová-Wörner (Masaryk Institute and Archives, Czech Academy of Sciences Prague)

According to the established narrative, composing of sequences focused in the late Middle Ages primarily on utilitarian additions for newly established feasts, preferring creation of contrafacts over new melodies. This chapter will focus on several specific important changes in the sequence composition, performance, liturgical function and transmission in late medieval Bohemia.

Following genre characteristics will be discussed: 1) Performance in cantus fractus or with interpolations of strophic songs; (2) Creation of vernacular sequences and their incorporation into the Hussite and Utraquist liturgy; 3) sequences transformed into strophic songs; and 4) late contrafacts of early and Victorine sequences. Lastly, I will demonstrate the fundamental importance of sequences in the establishment of the vernacular poetry (sequence translations, vernacular devotional prayers as paraphrases of Latin liturgical sequences, etc.) and claim that in the late Middle Ages, sequences acted as one of the most important connectors between liturgy and private devotion.


Liturgy and Songs in the fifteenth century: on the Exclusiveness of the Bohemian Contribution

Jan Ciglbauer (Charles University, Prague)

The development and liturgical use of Latin and vernacular sacred songs became a thoroughly studied topic since the earliest modern reflections of fifteenth-century Bohemia. It is generally thought that it were first the reform movements that shifted the function of songs in the ceremonies. What was taking place before? How did the Catholics respond to the reformist stimuli? Are there significant regional differences as to how close were song allowed to get to the core of the liturgy? Today, we have a great opportunity to question the unspoken but omnipresent objectives of previous generations of scholars who tried to assign the most progressive tendencies to their preferred nations and social groups.


Cantus fractus between monophony and polyphony: a Utraquist contribution to the composition of music for the Mass Ordinary

Lenka Hlávková (Charles University, Prague)

According to the fifteenth-century music theorist Johannes Tinctoris, a polyphonic setting of the Mass Ordinary was understood as the most important and most ambitious genre within fifteenth century compositional practice. The traditional narrative of music historiography, based on Tinctoris' judgement, reflects Franco-Flemish polyphony, but does not pay much attention to other kinds of newly composed Mass settings such as monophonic cantus fractus Credo and its polyphonic elaborations, richly documented in Bohemian Utraquist manuscripts and sources from the neighbouring areas (Codex St Emmeram, collection of Stephan Roth from Zwickau).

The practice of composing new Credo chants appeared around 1300 in Italy (Credo Regis). The Bohemian contribution to this repertory in cantus fractus dates back to the late fourteenth-century and can be characterized by regularly constructed musical forms inspired by songs. During the fifteenth- and early-sixteenth centuries more than 20 monophonic tunes were transmitted and the most popular ones set into polyphony in different styles.

This paper will discuss a variety of formal arrangements of monophonic tunes and how composers transformed them into polyphony. A closer look at the compositional styles and techniques of local authors will contribute to the understanding of polyphonic Mass settings not only as an artistic form but also as music rooted in local liturgical practice.


The project Musica Hussitica Moderna

Viktor Velek (Masaryk Institute and Archives, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague)

The project Musica Hussitica Moderna studies the reflection of the Middle Ages in the Czech musical culture of the 19th-21st centuries. After 1800, many European countries exprienced increased interest in their histories in order to establish their own identity.

A similar process of ‘national revival’ of the Czech speaking population was taking place in Bohemia and Moravia. Solutions to many problems - in particular to national, social, religous, and constitutional problems - were often sought in examples from the past. The 15th century, a period which contained the death of Jan Hus, the subsequent wars between Hussites and the Catholic army, followed by religious duality until the early modern period, dominated these discussions.

Interpretations of these events and the legacy of Master Jan Hus (burned at stake in 1415) divided Czech society, and the full spectrum of the music culture mirrored this development. Discussions included the choice of relevant topics depicted in new music compositions, such as the glorification of medieval heros, commemoration of Hussite battles and celebration of important anniversaries that should appeal to patriotism, combativeness, and the preservation of the Czech identity. Musical-semiotic themes were often used, predominantly quotations or paraphrases of Hussite songs.

To conclude, the paper will introduce the database Musica Hussitica moderna – Repertorium which includes information on compositions, their authors, performance, or musical quotations. In some cases, it also includes sheet music incipits, pictures of the title pages, and musical recordings made especially for this project.