Musical Delicacies

— Early Music Concert Series —

Harmonie des Anges

The lute in the music of Rajhrad abbey in the 18th century — Jan Čižmář, baroque lute.

Doctoral concert of Jan Čižmář with lute music that is preserved especially in the archives of the Benedictines of Rajhrad Abbey.

Thursday 21 January 2016 17:00, Chamber music hall, Janáček Academy (JAMU), Komenského náměstí 6, 602 00 Brno, Czech Republic.

Plaisirs de Musique (CZ)  as guests:

11-course baroque lute — Lars Jönsson, Dalarö 2009, belly after Hans Frei.
13-course baroque lute — Lars Jönsson, Dalarö 2009, copy after Schelle 1744 / Wildham 1755.


Anonym (cca. 1700) Allemande Harmonie des Anges à 3 lettres   (CZ–Bm A372, olim Raigern Mus. 5.b.)
SMC Joseph I. (1678 – 1711) Aria composée del’ Empereur Josephe   (CZ–Bm A13.268, olim Raigern Mus. 2.)
Ferdinand Ignaz Hinterleitner (1659 — 1710) Concerto VI  [C major]   (Lauthen Concert mit Violin, Bass und Lauten, Wien 1699; olim Raigern Mus. 10.a.–c., olim Bibl. Zr. II C 10.)
Prelude — Ouverture — Allemande — Courante — Bourée — Minuete — Gavott — Menuet — Sarabande — Echo — Passacaille
Johann Michael Kühnell (cca. 1670 – 1728) Concerto a Liuto et Viola di Gamba  [D major]   (B–Br Ms II 4089 6a)
Allegro — Adagio — Allegro
Sylvius Leopold Weiss (1687 – 1750)
(Reconstruction of the lost flute part: Jörn Boysen)
[Duo pour luth et flute] fait a Prague 1719   (WeissSW 14, GB–Lb Add. 30387)
Adagio — Gavotte — Sarabande — Menuet — Bourée — Ciacona
Johann Georg Weichenberger (1676 – 1740) Praelude de Mr: Weichenperger [G minor]   (CZ Bm A371, olim Raigern Mus. 5.a.)
Wenzel Ludwig von Radolt (1667 — 1716) Concerto III  [G minor]   (Die Aller Treüeste Freindin, Wien 1701; Raigern Mus. 9.a–d.)
Ouvertur — Allemande — Courente — Sarabande — Menuette — Gavotte — Menuette — Guigue — Bourée — Menuette
Wenzel Ludwig von Radolt (1667 — 1716) Concerto II  [G minor]   (Die Aller Treüeste Freindin, Wien 1701; Raigern Mus. 9.a–d.)
Simphonia à discretione

About the programme

In this concert you will hear compositions from lute tablatures that originate from Rajhrad Abbey. In the period around 1700, lute playing was apparently very popular in the monastery, as evidenced by the large inventory of sheet music for the lute. One part consists of works for the solo instrument, but a significant proportion is chamber music. Several significant volumes known from the original catalogue have survived to our time.

The title piece of this concert, Harmonie des Anges à 3 lettres, means a composition written with only three letters. In lute tablature, each letter denotes one fret on the fingerboard and thus the semitone intervals. This piece uses only the letters a, f, h. In all its simplicity, this piece represents the main characteristics associated with the lute family: Modesty, sophistication, beauty and symbolism, — to listen and to view, for the heart and for the soul.

The two printed collections of chamber music with the lute – Ferdinand Ignaz Hinterleithner (Vienna 1699) and Wenzel Ludwig Freiherr von Radolt (Vienna 1701)   were both dedicated to Joseph I, the successor to the Habsburg throne (he became Emperor in 1705). Joseph himself was a passionate lutenist; his wife, Wilhelmina Amalia, likewise indulged in this passion. Hinterleitner dedicated his collection to the couple in the year of their wedding, 1699. Joseph was by no means the only nobleman who played and composed for the lute (other examples are Lobkowitz, Questenberg, Losy). From his pen, you will hear a small piece from one of the manuscripts in the library of the monastery. The ancient catalogues of the library include the two printed works mentioned above; recently, some scattered volumes could be found in other libraries and collections. Although these books are not unique, they complement in any case substantially our picture of the how the lute was used for (chamber) music in Rajhrad abbey and its environment in general.

J. M. Kühnell wrote several compositions (entitled Concerto) for lute and various instruments. The Rajhrad collection of works by Kühnell preserves a Concerto in B flat major, but only the lute part. (It is not clear whether the other parts are missing, or whether it was intended as a solo version. A chamber version is preserved in the Den Haag, which originally belonged to the collection of the Harrach family at the Rohrau château.) For today’s program, however, we have taken Kühnell’s Concerto in D Major. It originates from the very same Harrach collection, but has since the 1950s been deposited in Brussels. In Kühnell’s time, this was probably his most popular composition, considering that at least three copies are preserved in various collections, with a variety of instrumentations and a slightly modified musical material.

Among the manuscripts preserved in Rajhrad is also S. L. WeissSuite in A major, which matches an version in the Harrach manuscript arranged as a trio for violin, lute and bass. This serves us as inspiration to select another contemporary work by Weiss, but in a different key and instrumentation. The lost flute part was reconstructed by Jörg Boysen.

The final title in the programme, Simphonia à discretione refers to the poetic and intimate nature of lute music, which forms a natural antithesis to its contemporary orchestral practice.

Jan Čižmář

Jan Čižmář is a versatile performer focusing on historical plucked instruments. He performs regularly in Europe, Asia and the USA with ensembles such as Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and Capella Cracoviensis, and under conductors such as Frans Brüggen, Christopher Hogwood, Giovanni Antonini, Yannick Nézet–Séguin and Christina Pluhar. He appears also as soloist with of baroque and renaissance repertoire.

After graduation in guitar and musicology in his native Brno he studied at the Royal College of Music in London, where he began playing the lute in the class of Jakob Lindberg. He continued his studies at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague with the teachers Nigel North, Joachim Held, Mike Fentross and Christina Pluhar.

He was the founder and editor of the Czech guitar magazine Kytara and contributes regularly to other musical periodicals. He is also intensely involved with publishing and research activities in the field of early music.

Jan Čižmář taught lute and related instruments at the Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music in Katowice in Poland; currently he is teaching at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts (JAMU) in Brno and at the Academy of Ancient Music at Masaryk University in Brno. He regularly gives courses and masterclasses in Europe and overseas.