Frederick Chopin, as a Man and Musician — Complete eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 995 pages of information about Frederick Chopin, as a Man and Musician — Complete.


The golden age op polish music.

(Vol.  I., p. 66.)

As yet it is difficult to speak with any degree of certainty of the early musical history of Poland.  Our general histories of music have little or nothing to say on the matter, and a special history exists neither in the Polish nor in any other language.  The Abbe Joseph Surzynski, who by his labours is endeavouring to remove the reproach of indifference and ignorance now lying on his countrymen in this respect, says:  [Footnote:  In the preface to the Monumenta Musices sacra, selected works of the best composers of classical religious music in Poland, published by him.  The first two parts of this publication, respectively issued in 1885 and 1887, contain compositions by Thomas Szadek, Nicolas Zielenski, G. G. Gorczycki, Venceslas, Szamotulski, and Sebastian of Felsztyn.] “The compositions of our old masters are buried in the archives and libraries—­no one cares to make them known to the public; many Polish musicians, not even supposing that these compositions exist, are very far from believing that the authors of these pieces deserve to be ranked with the best composers of the Roman Catholic Church.  Now, in studying these works, we find in the century of Palestrina and Vittoria among our artists:  Marcin ze Lwowa (Martin Leopolita), Christopher Borek, Thomas Szadek, Venceslas Szamotulski, and especially Zielenski and Gomolka—­distinguished masters who deserve to be known by the friends of the musical art, either on account of their altogether national genius, or on account of their inspiration and the perfection of the forms which manifest themselves in their compositions.”  One of the first illustrious names in the history of music in Poland is the German Henry Finck, the chapel-master of the Polish Kings, John Albert (1492-1501) and Alexander (1501- 1506).  From the fact that this excellent master got his musical education in Poland we may safely conclude—­and it is not the only fact which justifies our doing so—­that in that country already in the fifteenth century good contrapuntists were to be found.  The Abbe Surzynski regards Zielenski as the best of the early composers, having been impressed both by the profound religious inspiration and the classical form of his works.  Of Gomolka, who has been called the Polish Palestrina as Sebastian of Felsztyn the Polish Goudimel, the Abbe remarks:  “Among the magnificent musical works of Martin Leopolita, Szadek, and Zielenski, the compositions of Gomolka present themselves like miniature water-colours, in which, nevertheless, every line, every colour, betrays the painter of genius.  His was a talent thoroughly indigenous—­his compositions are of great simplicity; no too complicated combinations of parts, one might even say that they are homophonous; nevertheless what wealth of thought, what beauty of harmony, what profoundness of sentiment

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