Marcin Bornus SzczycińskyGREGORIAN CHANT & EARLY POLYPHONY
graduated at Warsaw University as an economist, studied singing privately with K. Zachwatowicz. Meeting R. Jacobs and W. Christie were crucial points on his way towards early music. He made his debut in 1977 during “Musical Weeks in Ascona” performing along with medieval music ensemble Fistulatores et Tubicinatores Varsovienses led by K. Piwkowski. During the next years he appeared in various productions of Handel’s Theodora, Messiah, Jephte and Sosarme. He further cooperated with Les Arts Florissants, Capella Regia (R. Hugo), Hortus Musicus (A. Mustonien), Linnamuusikud (T. Niitvaegi, Tallinn), Academy of Early Music (T. Griendienko, Moscow), Musicalische Compagney (H. Eichorn, Berlin), La Petite Bande (S. Kuijken), Schola Jacobaena and Schola of the Theatre of Wegajty. Following a commission from the Polish Radio he founded his own vocal ensemble Bornus Consort, today one of the leading Polish interprets of early music. Among his most successful projects was the performance of the liturgical drama Ludus Danielis, which – after the first night in The Great Theatre in Warsaw – found admirers in Austria, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany and Switzerland. Since 1991 he has been the Gregorian Chants professor in Warsaw and Cracow Dominican Colleges of Theology and Philosophy. In 1993 he founded the Early Music Department in Wroclaw High School of Music, the first in Poland.
About The Class
I would like to invite you to join my medieval solo and early polyphonic music class. Today, our knowledge of medieval music is in a stage of revolution. Last twenty years of research in this field opened a totally new view – from the point of view of the research as well as of music practice.
This is a development similar to what happened 20-40 years earlier to the Baroque music interpretation. Remeber the shocking experience of Bach’s and Vivaldi’s music, interpreted according to the historic information research – period instruments, historic articulation, Baroque tuning, Baroque playing and singing aesthetics. In a time, authentic sources and credible performance lead into creation of a performance canon. The views of details would always differ, but the basic performance rules remain the same. Today, nobody would think of playing anything twice as quickly or slowly. The period tempi were precisely defined, among others, along with the growth of knowledge of historic dance and Baroque rhetorics. I had the pleasure of taking part in this fascinating process, as singer and conductor, while performing Baroque operas and oratorios and teaching Baroque singing. This was the time when my friendships with the Czech Baroque specialists started. They still exist, even if today, we all work in different music fields.
I dedicate myself nowadays more and more to medieval music, Gregorian chant especially. Today, there are many more medieval music theoretical sources known, and the information they contain is more precise than expected before. Deciphering the 9th-13th century notation was a great success here. There is a big progress noticeable in research in anthropology, transfer of traditions and comparative musicology. Broad documentation of European cultural peripheries showed that links between medieval and today’s music were never interrupted. It was found that archaic scale system characteristic for the Central European folklore is similar, for example, to the Greek system of dividing one octave into seventy-two steps, or the existence of twenty seven Arabian scales. It could be said that the tuning of medieval monophony equals the Baroque tuning as much as Mount Everest equals the Tatra Mountains Gerlach Peak. To understand the early medieval organum polyphony, we have to know Sardinian, Corsican or Georgian polyphony. Nobody could say today, that performing medieval music depends of artistic vision, because „about the period music, little is known“. Quite the opposite – we do know a lot.
During the last 20 years, while studying Greogorian chant with the Dominican clerics, together with a broad circle of scholars and musicians, we have looked into the roots of the Dominican 13th century traditions. I belive the Dominican sources to be some of the most precise and most valuable for us. The scholastic “measuring of the immeasurable“ helped the creation of the new notation, the “notation carrée” („nota romana“, „nota quadrata“), originating in the Dominican and Franciscan monasteries in Paris – the today’s western European notation is based on it. The earliest Dominican chants survive in the Santa Sabina monastery in Rome, in one thousand pages of the Prototipo d’Antifonario from 1254. We know also the exact interpretation rules. Among others it is the Gregorian chant “user’s manual”, rare in its notation of rhythm – the 13th century Parisian treatise “De musica” by Hieronymus de Moravia. No Gregorian chant expert should leave it aside. He has to take in a different view of the medieval chant, which differs from today’s believes, based on the 19th century ideas. He will hear the chant sung in strong, loud voices, rhythmical and ornamented.
Presently, I work as a choirmaster of the God’s Providence church in Warsaw. On Sundays and at feasts, we sing there Gregorian chant of Roman tradition, which differs slightly from the Dominican chant, yet it is still quite similar to it. We perform chants incorporated in the Sankt-Gallen 9th-11th century Mss., the Codex Einsiedeln (Ms. 121), written between 960-970, especially.
The new approach to Medieval music precedes another revolution – a totally new concept of Renaissance music. This adventure comes closer each day – if you wish to take part in it, bring with you to Valtice Renaissance repertoire which you do study now.
If you want to ask questions or have wishes, concerning the repertoire, which you would like to work on, do not hesitate to get in touch with me: email@example.com