Giant Mountains, Czech Republic

24.04.2009

The Giant Mountains – in the past and today - Music-making in the Giant Mountains (Krkonose)

    We can learn about the former music-making in the Giant Mountains (Krkonose) from number of records in local chronicles. But we can found the oldest records and mentions already in church documents. Because just the Church was particular in order and wrote down everything possible as records about church organ and also about other musical instruments which owned and lent to musicians.

    For example, we can find a mention in the church of St. Michael in Rokytnice nad Jizerou from 1738 which tell us about an organ, 10 musical instruments and two books with musical notations. Other villages in the Giant Mountains have simular inventory with 10-30 pieces of instruments as well as notes about bad stand of some. New musical instruments were offen various gifts, how is written here. For example, unnamed glassmakers from Rokytnice nad Jizerou donated two drums and four trumpets.
    But the primary church musical instrument was always organ. We can read in the same chronicle that the oldest one (there are not any mentions about its origin) was replaced in 1785. The contract about a new organ was signed by local pastor Josef Siebr and organ-maker Pavel Horak from Kutna Hora. He promised to manufacture the new instrument for 925 golden coins till 30.6.1786. Count Jan Nepomuk Harrach decided that the noble office contributed by 700 golden coins. But you can not see this organ in the church of St. Michael today. The new organ has its origin in the year 1904. The producer was organ-maker Josef Kobyle from Lomnice nad Popelkou.
    Local teachers (so-called cantors) cared for music and singing in church. They also made musical notation copy of church pieces combined by several composers. Even today, it is possible to find precious and till now unknown musical pieces of local or fully unknown composers here. Authors were recorded sometimes wrong because of not knowing or rewriting of a copy. For example music of W.A. Mozart was assigned to Michael Haydn or another time to Vincent Masek etc. It was a difficult handwriting work and that´s why local musical collections are rare historical landmarks saved in record offices nowadays. We can find such a collection from Rokytnice nad Jizerou saved in the district archive in Semily. Number of teachers from school in Dolni Rokytnice worked on it subsequently. But most of them Johann Knappe who worked in this school in years 1826-1849. He was very attractive, successful teacher and obtained honorable title „Musterlehrer" = model teacher and his school was pround on the title „model school". He pieced together all older transcrips of musical pieces and then he rewrote majority of the present musical collection from Rokytnice which contains more than 300 hand-write musical pieces of German and Czech composers.

    There were associations in most of villages and towns in the Giant Mountains region with the main function to ensure music in churches and other church ceremonies (for example funerals etc.). Leaders were always teachers=cantors and that´s why the associations were called „Kantoreien" in German and Czech villages. Musicians and singers received only in a few cases a symbolic honorarium. These financial recourses were used on purchase and reparation of musical instruments and on purchase of music paper for mentioned musical pieces overwriting.

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