Chapter 2

The diplomatic and representative function of chamber music


Since the vast majority of the BDS manuscripts belonged to Benedictine nuns’ of Sandomierz, in most cases, I will analyze them including the performance practice of the cloister. Chamber music in the case of this congregation served quite a different role, far from a liturgical purpose.

Most of the musical material in the collection comes from the 18th century, especially the second half. It was a very turbulent time for religious institutions in the Holy Roman Empire because of “josephinism”- a movement initiated by empress Marie Therese and continued by her son Joseph II, aiming to gain utmost power over the local church, often resulting in dissolutions of many orders. The way to avoid its repercussions was to prove the cloister’s social utility to the local governors. The issue has affected Sandomierz's Benedictines as well and a large amount of symphonic and chamber music preserved in BDS ended up in the collection due to this issue.

In cloisters chronicle, we encounter mentions of peculiar diplomatic events. In case of foreign invasions, cloister abbess used to invite army leaders or their wives before the front’s arrival to Sandomierz, to negotiate conditions on which the congregation could be spared from war vandalism. Sometimes diplomatic visits were related to local ecclesial politics or sponsorships issues. The usual visit would include some sort of liturgical celebration (with the vocal-instrumental performance of the vespers or a mass) and dinner in the cloister’s gate, with the accompaniment of chamber music. Music was used as a prestige and position indicator; nuns were aware of their technical and artistic abilities, already renowned in the region. Rich musical framing of the whole experience, so symptomatic of a theatricalized 18th-century culture obsessed with rites and rituals, was used to induce an impression of grandeur and importance, and, consequently, to intimidate the guest. It seems that music was treated by nuns as their “export product”, and its importance to the monastery’s image was so high that in some cases guests attended multiple liturgies in one visit just to listen to symphonies, vocal-instrumental works, and chamber music played by the nuns.[13]

Another consequence of josephinism in the monastery’s life was the founding of the cloister school for girls, most likely due to the need of meeting social utility standards. Nuns were teaching music there and a large amount of didactic music was found in the BDS collection. Manuscript L 1668, a miscellany of various keyboard pieces, due to both quite surprising range in quality of the pieces as well as certain inscriptions, is said to be created for educational purposes. Although keyboard music is not the focus of this research, it is important to mention that keyboard manuscripts are as numerous in the collection as chamber music.[14] The appearance of keyboard pieces demanding high technical abilities within Sandomierz musicalia could give us the idea about the level of dexterity in continuo playing in chamber music.[15] Apart from said manuscripts, the instruments in use can lead us to similar conclusions.



While it is almost certain that nuns owned soprano instruments named on manuscripts’ pages, the practice of continuo poses few questions. Fortunately, cloisters chronicle and documents preserved a considerable amount of information.

Due to the school’s activity, keyboard instruments played a huge role in the monastery’s musical life. We know that cloister had 7 or 8 instruments of this kind. Among documented ones are positive organ, grand organ (ordered in 1763)[16], harpsichord, spinet, clavichord, from 1774 a tangent piano.[17] Positive organ and tangent piano are preserved and displayed in the Museum of Sandomierz Diocese. It is documented that harpsichord was used in church during the liturgy.[18] Clearly, the convent was needed this many continuo instruments and consequently, it had a similar amount of musicians able to perform basso. In 1789 we find mention of Fort Piano, most probably fortepiano noted in registers from years 1769-1794 (DLS G 889)[19]

As for the lower string instruments used in the Sandomierz cloister, we have mentioned the use of viola da gamba, violone, and violoncello. Viola da gamba parts appear in the composition of Roman Zajączkowski Veni Creator Spiritus of 1706[20] and anonymous Ave Regina Caelorum of 1714[21]. The aforementioned manuscript of Boczkowski’s  Veni Creator Spiritus features part of Viollone as well, noted in bass clef without numbers with melodic line independent from basso. Even though in the case of these early 18th century manuscripts we cannot tell if a gamba player was coming from the monastery or not, we know that around 1765 Sandomierz cloister had a gamba playing nun.[22] Violinczello or violoncello inscriptions, often with an indication of pizzicato, appear in many continuo parts, e.g.: ms no.6, violin concerto by Joseph Meck.




The purpose of the instrumental music performance in the Sandomierz monastery was quite different from usual liturgical-musical customs. Chamber, both instrumental and vocal-instrumental, together with symphonic music was used for representative purposes during meetings with noble guests. The selection of the performed pieces was meant to display not only renowned, high artistic and technical level of nun musicians but also an image of nobility, gentility, being up-to-date with trends, and in touch with the aristocratic world. It was meant to denominate high social position, which in fact, characterized many of the sisters and certainly, the abbess.[23] This could be the reason behind the much larger amount of foreign compositions, very often by famous authors, among chamber and symphonic music in BDS musicalia.



The appearance of three early Haydn quartets ( Cassatio in B (no.2), Cassatio in G (no.4), Cassatio in Es (no.3)  clearly show capella’s efforts for staying up-to-date with the latest, classical compositional trends.

In the case of Cassatio in B and Cassatio in G scriptor assigned authorship of Joseph Haydn (in both cases with the quite unusual spelling of composer’s surname, however, his authorship was ascertained). The first piece was identified as Quartet in B♭ Hob III:12 (Op.2 no.6), second as Quartet in G Hob III:4 (Op.1 no.4). Cassatio in Es, although the manuscript’s title page does not bear any mention of its composer, was ascertained as Haydn’s as well[24] _ the piece was identified as Quartet in E♭ Hob III:2 (Op.1 no.2). All three works come from early opuses, presumably written in mid-to-late 1750[25]. As for the Cassatio in Es, the RISM database dates the manuscript for the years 1760-1799. This manuscript, however, before its transfer from Sandomierz Collegiate to BDS collection, was owned by priest and conductor J.Kroczkiewicz. This gives us more precise information about the date since Józef Kroczkiewicz was active canon in Nowy Sącz Chapter in the years 1773-1782[26] and we can assume it was attained to Collegiate’s musicalia around that time. Cassatio in B♭ is also signed with Kroczkiewicz’s name- Collegiate’s provenance is assumed through the piece’s possessor. Cassatio in G, on the other hand, is copied by Sandomierz nun, Teresa Nobiszewska (Nubiszowska) (ca.1733-1801)- one of the most prominent copystist and possessors in BDS collection. This quartet appears as well in the biggest and most important Polish collection of that time- Jasna Góra collection with the note:

“XAW [ks. Antoni Wybranowski] pro Domo et Horo Musico Ecclesiae et Conventus Kłobuc[ensis] Can[onicorum] Reg[ularium] Latt[eranensium]. Ao 1791 die 21 XI Anno Dni 1790”

Namenvermerk auf den Stimmen: “Donatianus Zarębski C[anonicus] R[egularis] mpp.”[27]

which could lead us to assume that the piece entered the Sandomierz collection at a similar time, namely the 1790’s. In any case, it shows local interdependencies regarding the reception of the repertoire- the prominent Jasna Góra collection contains 30 works of Joseph Haydn, from which two pieces (Hob III:4 and Divertimento II:21) are dated for a similar time as Hob III:4 in BDS collection.

When it comes to the style of these three early Haydn quartets, Floyd K. Grave describes it as a “concerto style”- often discarded by musicologists as a mere development stage between galant and mature, classical style, where all the voices find their true equality within a quartet.[28] Higher voices are most likely to be in the spotlight. The first or second violin part is full of virtuosic figures, resembling those of instrumental concertos while the internal dynamic of the ensemble imitates that of an orchestra accompanying the soloist. The bass part remains quite simple, inner voices serve contrapuntal or harmonic functions. Whatever judgment regarding artistic value of these tendencies in early Haydn may be proposed by musicologists, for our collection appearance of this idiom means that nun musicians of Sandomierz cloister and/or other local musicians were capable of performing these technically advanced parts and saw the need of these in their repertoire.

  • Fragment of ms no.2 Cassation in B, Violino Primo, page 3



Due to its geographical vicinity, Bohemia and its musical culture widely influence symphonic and chamber music in BDS. It is not surprising that Myslivecek’s s name appears in the collection on the front page of ms no.25 Trio. The trio appears also in manuscript in Heiligenkreuz im Wienerwald, Austria in Musikarchiv des Zisterzienserstiftes . There are, however,  slight differences between both manuscripts. Except for several changes in bowing and articulation, Sandomierz's version of Trio exhibits different instrumentation. Even though front page suggest that piece is written for “Flauto Primo/ Flauto Secondo. & Violonczello” , “Flauto Secundo” part has written Violino Secondo on its second page. The piece contains three movements: Larghetto, Allegro in 4/4, and Allegro in 3/8. Flauto Primo musical material is virtuosity-focused. High register (mostly d2-d3 octave), multiple passages and scales combined with written out late galant ornamentation (trills and short appoggiaturas with notes of short value, repeated short notes of the same pitch, 16th-note passages breaking down to triol-passages) give us a very clear idea about the style. Flauto Secundo (Violino Secondo) part is written mostly in dialogue with highly virtuosic first flute: usually repeats little ornamental motifs and leads counterpoint. Its register is much lower- on average from g1-f2. The cello part is not yet fully emancipated here. It serves mostly bass and rhythmical function.

Other pieces confirming strong Bohemian influence on the collection are fragments of Vaclav Pichl Symphony in ms no.31. Manuscripts contain three pieces called Allegro, Divertimento, Rondo Allegretto, and the first one was identified as a part of Symphony in F major by Vaclav Pichl ( ZakP 20 )

  • Fragment of  ms no.31 titled, Violino Primo, page 3



A less obvious trend, regarding cultural connections, is the influence of Mannheim in ms no.22. Although the first name of the composer is not mentioned, most probably the scriptor meant the Christian Gottlieb Ziegler (1702- after 1760), son of Bach’s contemporary and pupil, Johann Gottlieb. Born in Pulsnitz in Saxony, Christian Gottlieb received his first musical education in an orphanage in Halle, where he studied with his uncle Johann Gotthilf. In 1723 the composer traveled to Dresden, where he benefited from contact with S.L Weiss and J.G Pisendel, however, according to Walther, the composer profited especially from J.D. Heinichen and Christian Pezold who taught him “much about the music”.   He is also an author of an unpublished composition treatise, “Anleitung zur Musikalischen Composition”, dated 1739. Symphonia ex C á vocibus 4tour is written for 2 violins, viola, and nonspecified basso (the part does not contain figures, it has, however, dynamics descriptions). It consists of three movements: Allegro molto, Andante, Presto. The symphony seems to be a good example of Mannheim school influences on the collection. From the very first movement, a lot of distinctive Mannheim-school rhetorical figures appear. The most apparent “Mannheim” moment comes already in bar 29- a bar of Generalpause. The noted Mannheim crescendo appears in bar 14 and leads to characteristic bass drop-out in bar 18. Moreover, the very opening theme of this little symphonia could be described as a Mannheim rocket figure. From bar 50, we encounter another very characteristic figure, when all the voices repeat their motifs three times going up, while the ostinato bass remains on the pedal note.

  • Fragment of Violino Primo part, page 2



Among other popular at the time composers appearing within chamber music, such as Graun or Gaetano Pugnani, we encounter local names as well. Manuscript no.20 Parthia features a composition by Cracow-based singer, teacher, and composer, Jakub Gołąbek. However inconspicuous, the appearance of this piece in the BDS collection is of high importance. Not only does it tell us about Harmoniemusik influences in Lower Poland, but also exhibits domestic and regional influences on the collection and could be a case study for local compositional practices. Jakub Gołąbek was affiliated to Saint Mary Basilica in Cracow as well as to Royal Court through work in Wawel Castle Cathedral. Parthia is a chamber piece for two clarinets, two horns in C, and a bassoon. It consists of three movements: Adagio, Andante moderato, Allegro molto. Instrumentation resembles the Harmoniemusik genre. Although the Viennese standard of Harmoniemusik instrumentation consists of 2ob, 2 cl, 2cr, 2 fg, in Bohemia and Moravia we encounter pieces of instrumentation similar to or identical Parthia.