Discovering the Lost Treasures of Strážnice

Opus Osm

What musical secrets in Strážnice Castle does the Veselí Gate protect?

Once upon a time, the noble Italian family bearing the name Magnis came to live in a water castle called Strážnice in southern Moravia…

Colonel and later Count Francis de Magnis of Strážnice reigned there from 1628-1652. He was famous not only for his military career, but his love of the arts. He led a rich musical life, bringing musicians, musical instruments, and composers from Italy. His collection was expanded by his family through the centuries.

Today this Italian-Moravian musical heritage is considered lost. What is left of the Strážnice collection is housed mainly in the Brno Museum Music Archive, and its exact history is rather obscure. The collection contains chamber instrumental music from the 18th century, salon music from the 19th century, and a few musical instruments.

Jan Čižmář

Jan Čižmář, lecturer at Masaryk University in Brno, has devoted some years of his life to exploring this musical history. A series of Strážnice-related projects have already been produced based on his work. The nearly five hundred items of music in the collection have yet to attract the attention of musicologists and performers. This is a shame as research has revealed some of the compositions are unique to the Strážnice collection.

A concert in the Prague Symphony (FOK) Early Music series on the 17th of December will be devoted solely to compositions from the Strážnice collection. You will also be able to hear a solo instrument from this collection – an original ivory flute from the Italian master flute maker Lorenzo Cerino.

Flutes feature prominently in the music of the Strážnice collection, suggesting that they were a very popular instrument. Indeed, an inventory of the castle from 1810 lists two ivory traversos made by Lorenzo Cerino.

Performers include Christophe Coin (cello), Maria Tecla Andreotti (flute), Marta Kratochvílová (flute), and, of course, Jan Čižmář (lute). Mrs Kratochvílová has been working extensively with Jan Čižmář since 2008.

Opus Osm

Strážnice Castle

The program includes compositions by Giuseppe Salino, Karel Stamic, Antonio Caputi, Giovanni Pissani, and Archangelo Corelli.

Most of these composers are clearly Italian except for Karel Stamic (Carl Stamic) who was the elder son of the famous Czech composer and virtuoso Jan Václav Stamic. Karel Stamic was born and lived most of his life abroad. In addition to writing symphonies and concertos, he also wrote two operas that are now lost. His music resembles that of Mozart or Haydn.

This concert shows that the happiest of endings for the Strážnice collection is in a new beginning. – oo

Music Treasures from the Strážnice Castle is at 7:30 pm Dec 17 at the Church of St Simon and St Jude.

– Hana and Frank Trollman, regular contributing writers to Opus Osm


Photo Credits: Top: Vesilí Gate, Mercy from Wikimedia Commons; middle, Jan Čižmář website; bottom: Wikipedia

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