Shepherd's Harmony


As a young man, the composer, organist, and copyist Georgius (also seen as Jozef) Juraj Zrunek (1736–89) became a member of the Franciscan order, where he excelled as a music teacher. He worked especially in present-day Slovakia, in Hlohovec as an organist alongside Paulin Bajan (1721‒92) and in Žilina with Edmund Pascha (1714–72), also known as Claudianus Ostern, a brother Franciscan who was a composer, poet, and organist. Zrunek’s activities as a composer have been the subject of research, as some of his works previously were attributed to Pascha. Zrunek was an important creator of Christmas hymns and masses. His works include the Harmonia pastoralis (Shepherd’s harmony), a compendium of three works composed in the 1760s, of which the score in his own hand is presented here. The most famous of his Harmonia pastoralis compositions is his Christmas Mass in F major for organ, solo voice, and choir, which combines in an original manner the Latin text of the Mass Ordinary with parentheses of Slovak folk origin (corresponding to the spirit of the traditional nativity play). The second mass in this volume is written in the same bilingual style. The third work is the Latin antiphon Tota pulchra (All beautiful). The title page of another Zrunek compendium, Prosae Pastorales (Pastor’s songs) concludes this volume but the rest of that work is not present. Another manuscript from the Slovak National Library containing Harmonia pastoralis, Prosae Pastorales, and other compositions by Zrunek is also in World Digital Library.

Last updated: March 3, 2016