The music of Olomouc chapel masters came to life again

6 September 2021, 18:00
The music of Olomouc chapel masters came to life again

For two consecutive Saturdays, visitors to the Olomoucké barokní slavnosti (Olomouc Baroque Festival) had the opportunity to listen to works by lesser-known composers whose music not only in many respects far surpassed the standard of the time, but whose fates were also closely linked to Olomouc.

The first of the mentioned and reviewed concerts took place on 28 August in the festive hall of Klášterní Hradisko and featured Musica figuralis under the direction of Marek Čermák. The programme involved works by Joseph Puschmann, a Moravian composer and from 1777 a chapel master of the Olomouc cathedral. However, it would be a mistake to think that this was only a local compositional talent. Puschmann’s compositions can be found in many European music collections, and even before he accepted service at the cathedral, he worked in the service of Baron Skrbenský in Hošťálkovy or as a chapel master of Ignác Dominik Chorynský, the Silesian Governor in Opava.

The festival concert focused on Puschmann’s secular works. His Symphony in C minor, Violin Concerto in G major and Symphony in E flat major were performed. The first piece of the evening, Symphony in C minor, represents the only known minor symphony by the composer so far. It is remarkable, among other things, for its sudden melodic dynamic, rhythmic and expressive contrasts. The dark and brooding musical motif here can be transformed in an instant into an energetic and stirring musical surface with an almost jubilant character. Not only the composer, but especially the performers were able to work with these contrasts skilfully. The ensemble, led by Marek Čermák, moved between heated dynamics with thrilling precision and clear musical intent. The brass section, led by the horns, also deserves great praise, whose final “notches” perfectly underlined, for example, the natural gradation of the first movement. However, Puschmann’s music is not only energetic and dramatic; indeed, the composer also gives a great deal of space to lyrical moods, as can be seen, for example, in the second movement of the Symphony in C minor, or even more so in his Violin Concerto in G major. The violinist Martyna Pastuzska also performed in this piece with the ensemble Musica figuralis. Puschmann’s concerto makes extensive use of so-called artificial string harmonic techniques (artificial flageolets), from which he builds tender and almost pastoral surfaces. What I personally appreciate most about Puschmann’s work, however, is his sense of phrase construction, and especially his treatment of the soloist since the artist is not relegated to a mere virtuosic element (although it is true that the time of empty virtuosity was yet to come); the opposite is true – often, the soloist delivers seemingly simple musical phrases that gradually develop into melodic, rhythmic and expressive richness. The soloist completed her task excellently. The fragile motifs in pianissimo dynamics were “fluffy” and played with a “light hand”, while in the more escalated parts the artist was not afraid to take a step towards to a much harsher musical expression. The evening closed with the equally successful Symphony in G major, cleverly chosen, by the artistic director, to end the programme – its fast pace, exultant character and at times thrilling drama were the ideal endings to what was a successful concert.

The second Saturday in a row – 4 September 2021 – took festival visitors to the Church of Our Lady Helper of Christians. Here, in the staging of the ensemble Societas Incognitorum under the artistic direction of Eduard Tomaštík, Philipp Jakob Rittler’s Missa Carolina was re-instated at the world level. This Baroque composer has only recently received the deserved attention of both the professional public and performers. Until now, his chamber works have rather been known, so Missa Carolina represents a new milestone in our knowledge of Rittler’s compositional production. In addition to the instrumentalists, the soloists Kateřina Šujanová (soprano), Yvetta Fendrichová (soprano), Monika Jägerová (alto), Ondřej Múčka (tenor) and Jaromír Nosek (bass) performed.

The mass opened with a prelude (intrada) in the form of Sonata à 3, in which violinist Elen Machová and clarion player Petr Jurášek shone from the very beginning of the evening. After all, the brass section, which was well represented in the work, deserves great praise. Although at the beginning of the mass (after the chorale) the connection between the brass section and the rest of the orchestra was not entirely persuasive, very soon all rhythmic and intonation impurities disappeared. Ondřej Múčka gave an excellent rendition of the chorale, followed immediately by the Kyrie and Gloria. Rittler’s music is deep and serious in thought, yet full of joy – serious polyphonic work combines with melodic invention, and the richness of the instrumentation ensures a sound full of brilliance. The Graduale also featured Giovanni Legrenzi’s Sonata la Pia with a distressing ascending chromaticism at the end of the first part and also Georg Muffat’s Ciacona in g for organ, performed by Marek Čermák.

The singers also gave excellent achievements – especially the alto singer Monika Jägerová impressed with her beautiful voice and sensitive performance. Tenor Ondřej Múčka also dazzled with his excellent phrasing and work with the colour of his voice. Jaromír Nosek’s clear and solid bass was also a pleasure. However, the sopranos were a bit disjointed in the places they shared. While each of them could boast of a good staging and a nice colour of voice, in the joint parts it was as if the colours of the voices of both singers went against each other. However, it was certainly not a fundamental flaw and I believe that there are those in the audience who, on the contrary, enjoyed the harmony of the sopranos. Mention should also be made of the parts, in which Rittler’s music achieved a particular brilliance and dramatic effect.

Saturday’s concerts of the Olomouc Baroque Festival featured music – rendered by two different ensembles – of not yet well-known, but undoubtedly remarkable composers whose work could (and indeed should!) be a welcome enrichment of other music programmes and festivals. In the face of the undeniable quality of the compositions by Philipp Jakob Rittler and Joseph Puschmann, it seems almost unthinkable that such music should once again fall into oblivion. 

Tribute to Joseph Puschmann – 28 August 2021

Martyna Pastuzska – soloist, violin

Marek Čermák – artistic director

Musica figuralis


Oboe players: Małgorzata Kluźniak, Petra Karpíšková

Bassoon: Petr Budín

Horns players: Rudolf Linner, Juraj Ofúkaný

Clarion players: Petr Jurášek, Karel Beránek

Violin players: Martyna Pastuszka, Aleksandra Radwańska,

Bartłomiej Fraś, Dominika Małecka,

Antonina Krzyżowska, Vojtěch Zajíc

Viola: Martin Stupka

Cello: Petr Mašlaň

Violone: Ján Krigovský

Timpani: Lukáš Krejčí

Harpsichord: Marek Čermák

Concert programme:

Joseph Puschmann (1738–1794)

Symphony in C minor

Violin Concerto in G major

Symphony in E flat major


Missa Carolina – 4 September 2021

Praeludium: PJ Rittler (1639? – 1690) – Sonata à 3

Introitus: Statuit ei Dominus (Chorale)

Kyrie, Gloria: PJ Rittler – Missa Carolina

Graduale: Giovanni Legrenzi (1626–1690) – Sonata la Pia à 2

Credo: PJ Rittler – Missa Carolina

Ofertorium: Georg Muffat (1653–1704) – Ciacona in g (organo solo)

Sanctus: PJ Rittler – Missa Carolina

Communio: Fidelis servus (Chorale)

Agnus Dei, Dona nobis: PJ Rittler – Missa Carolina


Kateřina Šujanová – soprano

Yvetta Fendrichová – soprano

Monika Jägerová – alto

Ondřej Múčka – tenor

Jaromír Nosek – bass


Aneta Podracká Bendová – soprano

Linda Nepivodová – soprano

Tamara Kubandová – alto

Ivan Nepivoda – tenor

Martin Šujan – bass


Clarion players: Petr Jurášek, Jaroslav Kocůrek

Cornett: Richard Šeda, Barbora Mišoňová

Trombone players: Ondřej Sokol, Stanislav Penk, Pavel Novotný

Violin players Elen Machová, Eva Kalová

Viola: Veronika Svačinová, Braňo Larich, František Kuncl

Positive organ Marek Čermák

Cello: Dalibor Pimek

Violone: Lukáš Verner

Photo by Daniel Berka



No comment added yet..

The long-delayed premiere of the composition The Basement Sketches by composer Michal Nejtek, whose performance was planned for June 2020 and which was commissioned by the Brno Philharmonic, was finally performed on Thursday 25 November at the Community Hall (Besední dům) venue. Together with the Cellar Sketches, the Variations on a Theme by Haydn in B flat major, Op. 56a by Johannes Brahms and Cello Concerto Op. 22 by Samuel Barber were played. In addition to Brno Philharmonic players, cellist Matt Haimovitz and pianist Nikol Bóková also performed. The dramaturgically varied evening, consisting of three distinctly different musical pieces of work and period contexts, was led by the ensemble’s chief conductor Dennis Russell Daviesmore

On Monday 22 November, the second concert of the Brno Contemporary Orchestra’s festive tenth season, entitled Kamenné mantry (Stone Mantras), presented compositions by Fausto Romitelli, Michal Rataj, Miloslav Ištvan and the recently deceased (well known to Brno audiences) Lithuanian composer Bronius Kutavičius. In addition to the orchestra itself, there were also soprano singer Irena Troupová, marimba player Martin Opršál and reciter Pavel Zajíc, who replaced Otakar Blaha in the programme. The concert, organised in cooperation with the Moravian Museum, was conducted by the artistic director of the ensemble Pavel Šnajdrmore

The work by the British composer Benjamin Britten forms an essential part of contemporary opera production. Worldwide, he is even the most frequently staged author born in the 20th century.  Peter Grimes, with a libretto by Montagu Slater based on a poem by George Crabbe, became the opera that set the course for Britten's next musical-dramatic works. And it is with the title Peter Grimes that the Brno National Theatre has opened the opera part of the 2021/2022 season. The story of a rough and tumble fisherman, whose two young apprentices die soon after each other and who as a result sails out to sea, where he sinks his boat and himself with it, had its Czechoslovak premiere in Brno in June 1947. Almost 75 years after, the story of a fishing village, resentment, cruelty and gossip is now coming to life again in the Janáček Theatre, directed by David Radok and with a musical score by Marko Ivanović. The title role was played by tenor Joachim Bäckström and the widowed teacher Ellen Orford, who found affection in Grimes, was portrayed by soprano Jana Šrejma Kačírková. This is not the first time that these two have met on stage together – it was with Mark Ivanović and David Radok that they had previously joined forces for the play Juliette / Lidský hlas (Juliette/The Human Voice). Jana Hrochová (Auntie), Andrea Široká (Niece), Tereza Kyzlinková (Niece), Svatopluk Sem (Balstrode), Jitka Sapara-Fischerová (Mrs. Nabob Sedley), Jan Št'áva (Swallow), Vít Nosek (Bob Boles), Petr Levíček (Horace Adams), David Nykl (Hobson), Jiří Hájek (Ned Keene) and Ivo Šiler (Dr. Crabbe) were also featured, along with the others.  more

Under the “cipher” 29/2 (reads as “Twenty-ninth February”) there is a band that was created for a bit of fun. They used compositional techniques that should not work in songwriting at all. It has united musicians who, by definition, perhaps can never understand each other. And yet the result is an album of very strong songs that, despite all the experimentalism, makes sense and works as a whole.  more

Yesterday, Visitors to the Brno City Theatre experienced the Czech premiere of the Broadway musical hit Pretty Woman. Directed by Stanislav Moša, this theatrical adaptation of the famous blockbuster highlighted the strengths of the movie. Until the break, the viewer is mostly laughing royally and having fun in this tale of a modern Cinderella, and then in the second half the impressiveness and lyricism of the whole title is especially pronounced.  more

For two consecutive Saturdays, visitors to the Olomoucké barokní slavnosti (Olomouc Baroque Festival) had the opportunity to listen to works by lesser-known composers whose music not only in many respects far surpassed the standard of the time, but whose fates were also closely linked to Olomouc.  more

One of the biggest attractions of this year's Olomouc Baroque Festival was the performance of the oratorio David by the Austrian composer Karl Ditters. It was the perfect opportunity to do so, after all – this year the work celebrates 250 years since its creation. Ditters composed the oratorio to a text by Ignazio Pinto in 1771 and in the same year it had its premiere at the castle of Bishop Philipp Gotthard Schaffgotsch of Wrocław on the Jánský Vrch (John´s Hill) near Javorník. In the musical production of violinist and artistic director of Volantes Orchestra Veronika Manová and conductor Ema Mikešová the oratorio was first performed in concert in Brno at the Church of St. Johns (4 August), then on 7 August in Podzámecká zahrada – a garden of the Archbishop’s Chateau in Kroměříž, and, finally, on 12–14 August in the Ambit and Basilica of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary on the Svatý Kopeček (Holy Hill) near Olomouc. The event of 12 August was the performance I visited. In addition to Volantes Orchestra, there were members of other ensembles – Arte dei Suonatori (PL), Il Cuore Barocco (SK), Musica Aeterna (HU) and Societas Incognitorum (CZ). In this aspect, this is another event from the series of concerts organised under the auspices of the festival which bring together musical ensembles from the Visegrad Four. However, there are also performers from other countries – Slovenia, Northern Macedonia and Great Britain. The solo roles were performed by: Doubravka Součková (David), Aco Bišćević (Saul, King of Israel), Helena Hozová (Jonathan, son of Saul), Jiří Miroslav Procházka (Abner, warlord) and Aneta Petrasová (Eliab, David’s brother). The concert was directed by Rocc; the choreography was designed by Sanja Nešković Peršin and costumes were rendered by Borjan Litovski.  more

Traditions, costumes, songs and often special food. This is the basis of folk culture, which is strongly rooted in Moravia. Interest in it has been growing recently – the Czech Republic is taking it as one of the bases of its promotion for domestic and foreign tourists. What is folklore actually about? Are young people coming back to it? And what makes it interesting? We interviewed Marie Hvozdecká, a music editor focusing on folklore at Czech Radio and also a long-time programmer of the folklore scene at the Brno Music Marathon Festival. As she says, “having an interest in folk music is a good thing. However, in order to remake it into a new form, one must know its origin and meaning, otherwise it becomes a mockery.”  more

The Brno Music Marathon Festival will include a world music scene for the first time this year. In addition to the award-winning Bosnian singer-songwriter Damir Imamović and the female vocal group Kata from the exotic Faroe Islands, the group Spilar from Belgium will perform in the Biskupský dvůr venue on Saturday 14 August. Its first album Stormweere reached number eight on the World Music Charts Europe, the official partner of the scene and compiled by leading radio music writers from across Europe, last November. We interviewed Maarten Decombel, one of the founders of the group.  more

American singer-songwriter Leyla McCalla is claiming her Haitian roots. She lives in Louisiana and connects the traditional musical genres of the U.S. South with the culture of the island where her ancestors came from. On Tuesday, 27 July, we will be able to hear her voice and songs live at the festival of Folkové prázdniny (Folk Holidays) in Náměšt' nad Oslavou.  more

You will read in the media about the impact of coronavirus on the level of teaching in compulsory schools. There is less talk of art schools. Yet a quarter of a million children attend primary art schools (PAS). What do these bring to us and to children? What makes them special? I put these and not only these questions to Pavel Borský, cellist of Indigo Quartet (a string ensemble), programmer of the musical scene of the Brno Music Marathon Festival, teacher at the Faculty of Theatre of JAMU and at V. Kaprálové PAS Brno as well as regional coordinator of the ZUŠ Open festival. As he himself pointed out, the exact impact of distance learning on art school students is yet to be seen, but the online environment has taught many children how to communicate better using modern technology.  more

How challenging is it to make it as a composer in this day and age? And does it require more than just musical knowledge and talent? We had a conversation with a renowned composer of many genres, a pianist and comedian in his own way. This is what Zdeněk Král is – a native of Nový Bor and the programmer of the Brno Music Marathon Festival, he has already performed at the show three times, and this year he added a whole dramaturgy of one stage called Humour in Music to his performance. As he himself says, “I want to show that even in the field of so-called classical music there can be room for humour and comedy.”  more

Thirty-one years. It has been exactly that long since the founding of the Brno-based Indies label, which has released hundreds of albums of Czech music during its existence. PR Manager Přemysl Štěpánek takes care of the promotion of one of the current successors, the Indies Scope label. Apart from the current state of the label, we also discussed the way of promoting Czech artists, his dramaturgical plan for the Brno Music Marathon Festival and the representation of the Hungarian Sziget Festival in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.  more

Yesterday's concert, which took place as part of the Concentus Moraviae festival, entitled Scarlet Venice and featuring violinist, flute and piano player Anna Fusek along with lute and theorbo player Gianluca Geremia, was among the very first evenings indoors that classical music lovers were able to attend after the long, pandemic-forced pause. The chronologically compiled agenda presented those who paid a visit to the Church of All Saints, Moravský Krumlov, with works by early 16th century composers, the origins of the new style and compositions by late Baroque masters.  more

On this very day (19 May) an event will start in Valašské Meziříčí which all the dulcimer players from almost all over the world have been looking forward to for two years. It is the 14th International Dulcimer Festival, which has been held in this town every odd year since 1995. This year, it is sure to be rather modest due to the pandemic situation; the organizers are going to stream some of the concerts, while others will be broadcast on the Czech Radio stations Vltava and Brno. This year, Michal Grombiřík, a dulcimer player, became the first ever such musician admitted to the Jazz Music Interpretation Department of the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts (JAMU). What is the path from a traditional folk song, through classical music to jazz music, and what exactly is Michal going to do at the aforementioned dulcimer festival? We covered all these topics in our conversation.  more


This year marks the 1100th anniversary of the death of St. Ludmila, an important personality of Czech history and patroness of the Czech lands. To mark the occasion, the Czech Philharmonic Choir Brno is preparing a concert at the venue of the Community Hall (Besední dům), featuring an oratorio by composer Petr Fiala, The Baptism of Saint Ludmila, set to a text by poet Zuzana Nováková-Renčová. Together with the Choir and the Czech Virtuosi orchestra, actress Simona Postlerová will perform.  more

Tomorrow there will be the public habilitation lecture of Vladimír Maňas entitled Nicolaus Zangius: musician of the late Renaissance. Maňas’ book on Nicolaus Zangius and a recording of his compositions was published by Munipress and is available online.  more

Brno Cultural Newsletter presents a summary of events and changes relating to theatres, clubs, festivals and cultural events in Brno in the upcoming period. Last but not least, it also invites you to join the upcoming session of the Brno Cultural Parliament (Brněnský kulturní parlament).  more

Brno Contemporary Orchestra will once again perform in a non-traditional space. This time they will play under the direction of conductor Pavel Šnajdr at Anthropos in Brno. They will present spectacular compositions by Italian composer Fausto Romitelli, a post-modern chamber cantata by Miloslav Ištvan, the work entitled Hours of the Past by the recently deceased Lithuanian composer Bronius Kutavičius and a composition by Michal Rataj, composed directly for BCO.  more

Brno Cultural Newsletter presents a summary of events and changes relating to theatres, clubs, festivals and, overall, cultural events in Brno in the upcoming period. This time, it also focuses on Brno’s candidacy for the European Capital of Culture 2028.  more

The book Zápisky potulného lidopisce (Notes of a Wandering Folklorist) by Jiří Plocek was published last year. The Jiří Mahen Library, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, will host this author’s reading from two parts of the book.  more

The International Biennial Percussion Instrument Festival returns to the Orlí Street Theatre, but only after three years due to last year’s pandemic situation. Students from music schools in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland will meet in Brno to exchange experiences. The event offers five concerts for the public over three days, a gala opening of a photographic exhibition and the opportunity to try out various percussion instruments as part of the “PerkuSeanse” project. Students are then invited to workshops with well-known percussionists.  more

UNESCO and the ZUŠ Open festival prepared the exceptional benefit concert. The song recital will take place on Monday, 13 December at 7 p.m. in Brno's Besední dům and will also be available as a live video broadcast. The purpose of the evening is to support and raise the profile of the unique Czech system of Primary Art Schools (ZUŠ).  more

Interested candidates can apply for the post of Marketing Manager until Sunday 14 November 2021. The anticipated start date for this position is January next year.  more

The 21st annual jazz festival is characterized by big bands and connecting world-renowned musicians with Czech ones. Among the performers will be Maria Schneider’s Orchestra, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra in conjunction with Dan Bárta, pianist Brad Mehldau in a Bach-based programme with the Brno Philharmonic, double bass player Christian McBride’s quintet and guitarist Lionel Loueke, both solo and in a project with his Czech musical guests.  more