Accompanying word


For me it was always a great inspiration and joy to search for and uncover musical roots. On the other hand we have old folk music - ungroomed, spontaneous and full of the earthy energy of rustic people. These are songs that led directly to people´s hearts - for joy but also for sadness. They also may be simple and uncomplicated recantations of tales. Such songs were sung everywhere - at work, at celebrations, on long evenings. Folk songs thus provide us with the most exact picture of the environment and period in which their anonymous writers lived.

On the other hand I was always attracted by the Gregorian chants, especially its free periods, hymns and sequences. I noticed the symphony between this music and the area for which it was designed to be sung in. I learned to differentiate between the importance of each tone and their vibrations. I learned to understand the importance of the pure tuning  and symphony of the intervals in conjunction with the great acoustic and resonance in several churches and chapels. On studying old and precious collections in the East Bohemian Museum in Hradec Králové I discovered musical material that joined together these two diametrically different worlds - the hand written documents of the Literate Brothers, who were at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Hradec Králové for almost three centuries.

The first mention of these lay groups of prominent burghers, who would sing solo and choral songs on Sundays and on holy days, dates from 14th century. At first the son was Latin but the Husittes then brought Czech songs to the choir. the greatest development of these groups took place in the 16th century, and it is from this period, that majority of epic songbooks, which they created for their own use, were written. I have used three of these: the Czech Hymn Book  that contains a set of songs for year round use, the Advent Hymn Book, containing advent songs, and the Czech Gradual and Antiphonary that consists of the collection of mainly single-voice masses for selected main holy days.

In some places the primitive tests of choral melodies suddenly began to join together these two such diverse worlds - the Gregorian chants with the folk music. Later, and with Czech texts, sacred songs began to even take on folk melodies. These mutual influencing dna joining together meant three-worth solid material to study. In 1997 I recorded these songs into CD for prestigious German label Deutsche Harmonia Mundi. (Petr Matuszek: Czech Medieval Sacred Chants, DHM 74321 54766 2).

The musical material for the second half of the concert is lighter and consists of Czech songs from 11th -16th  centuries both to Latin and Czech texts. Duets are more common here, are merrier, and have a more fixed rhythmic construction. These are performed on medieval folk instruments, such as the medieval three-stringed violin, the kobza, trumsajt, and hurdy-gurdy. To enrich program we also include the Latin Organa (mostly from Notre Dame)  and several Czech folk songs.


Petr Matuszek