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Marcin Mielczewski and Music under the Patronage of the Polish Vasas

Translated by John Comber


Barbara Przybyszewska-Jarminska

The first monograph of the life and œuvre of Marcin Mielczewski (d. 1651) presents the best known Polish composer of seventeenth-century Europe. During the 1990s, while exploring a newly accessible collection of music manuscripts from Silesia (the Sammlung Bohn) held in the Berlin Staatsbibliothek, the author found 37 compositions signed M.M., which she ascribed to Mielczewski. This discovery, representing more than half the composer’s known legacy, fuelled a considerable rise in interest in Mielczewski’s output among musicologists and musicians. In this book, the current state of knowledge about Marcin Mielczewski’s life and work is presented within the context of the musical patronage of King Ladislaus IV Vasa of Poland and his brother, Bishop Charles Ferdinand.
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Other centres in Silesia and on the border between Silesia and the Commonwealth


With regard to the number of extant sources, an exceptional work in the output of Mielczewski is certainly Missa super O gloriosa Domina. At present, we know it from three copies – one complete, one missing a section of the Ordinary and one from which only the anonymously notated alto and bass parts have come down to us. Although the sources containing this Mass are now held in Warsaw, Berlin and Cracow, it is highly likely that their production should be associated with Silesia or the border of Silesia and Greater Poland.

Held in the Gabinet Zbiorów Muzycznych Biblioteki Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego since the beginning of the 1950s, brought from Wrocław, where up to the Second World War it was owned by the Kirchenmusikalisches Institut in that city, is a manuscript in the form of parts with the shelf-mark RM 6243. Its title page bears the inscription ‘Missa / super / O gloriosa Domina / a 6 / 2C.1.A.2T: 1.B / Auth. / Mart: Milczewski / [in the bottom left corner:] No 1 [in the bottom right corner:] I.C.Ż.’. At the bottom of fol. 1v of the Basso continuo part, we read the following: ‘1656 / Hoc sacrum donatum a Theophilo Freytag Dracomontano possideo / C.I.W. Cantor ibidem / 1657 12 Maii / [below this, in a different hand:] Hoc sacrum ex liberalitate Dni Christophori Ignatii / [here, the sheet is cut off]’. Already more than half a century ago, Hieronim Feicht wrote: ‘The...

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