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The Musical Culture of Silesia before 1742

New Contexts – New Perspectives


Edited By Pawel Gancarczyk and Lenka Hlávková-Mrácková

The volume includes detailed studies concerning various aspects of the musical culture of Silesia from the fifteenth to mid-eighteenth centuries. The authors, who represent academic centres in Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia, Holland, France and Great Britain, present new sources, as well as reinterpreting previously known facts and phenomena. What makes the approach here so original is that it takes into account the wider context of musical culture in Silesia, not limited to examining it exclusively in relation to the Polish, Czech or German cultures. Here we can see Silesia as one of the regions of Central Europe, and not merely as a western province of Poland, northern province of the Czech Kingdom, or eastern province of Prussia.


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In 1339 King Casimir the Great renounced his claim to Silesia in favour of the Czech Kingdom, thus opening a new period in the history of that region. Silesia became one of the provinces of the Czech Crown; however, this did not mean that its ties to the Polish state were to be severed. The diocese of Wrocław remained a part of the Gniezno province, Silesian dukes came from the Piast dynasty, and many Silesians studied in Kraków. At the same time the region increasingly came under the influence of German culture, not only because of the proximity of Saxony and Brandenburg, but also because of the influx of a German population. However, even after the Czech Crown was taken over by the Habsburgs (1526) and then – two centuries later – even after the region came under Prussian rule (1742), it retained its multicultural and borderland character. Silesia’s geopolitical situation left its mark on the culture of the region, including the musical culture, where Polish, Czech and German influences intermingled with varying degrees of intensity. The fact that the language of music is universal meant that the process of cultural transfer was exceptionally strong here: the areas of Poland, Silesia, Bohemia, Moravia, Saxony and Lusatia shared a common music repertory as well as the musician biographies. This is clearly discernible whether we are dealing with chant and monophonic songs, fifteenth- and sixteenth-century polyphony, or the vocal-instrumental music of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The volume includes detailed studies concerning...

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