Vesperae Bachanales


Pantaleon Roškovský (1734‒89) was a Slovak composer, organist, and teacher. Originally from Stará Ľubovňa, he entered the Franciscan order in 1755 and was ordained as a priest in Trnava in 1759. He worked mainly in the major monasteries of the Congregation of Marian Fathers (also known as Marians of the Immaculate Conception) in Bratislava and Trnava. His church music (masses, litanies, Marian antiphons, and motets) as well as his pieces for harpsichord and organ belong partly to the late Baroque period, but many already contain signs of early classicism. Roskovšký is probably best known for the work presented here, the four-part Carnival parody Vesperae bachanales (1768). This song celebrating the ancient god of wine retains the exact structure of the Roman Catholic vespers. The original texts—psalms with the appropriate antiphons, the hymn, magnificat, and even prayers—are very wittily satirized, which is emphasized by extremely imaginative musicalization (e.g., a parody of uncertain singing of the Gregorian chant at the end of the song). Vesperae bachanales were intended to amuse the monastic community at Carnival, the period just before Lent that in Catholic countries and regions traditionally was marked by raucous celebrations.

Last updated: March 3, 2016