The Most Important Sources from the Era of Pietism Related to the History of Musical Life in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Levoča/Leutschau
For centuries, the free royal city of Levoča was the cultural center of the his- torical region of Spiš. In the early modern period, musical life in its Lutheran church communities developed along the lines established by urban German cantorates. Polyphonic Renaissance and Baroque music predominated in the parish church until 1674, when re-Catholicization ruptured this tradition. The debate around Pietism became the central problem internal to Lutheranism from the beginning of the eighteenth century. Research into the musical life of Levoča in the Pietist era can be divided into three periods unevenly represented by musical sources surviving in the Levoča Lutheran Musical Collection: 1) the beginnings of Pietism (1674–1707): the manuscript Pestrý zborník and the Levoča Lute Tablature Collection B; 2) intense propagation of Pietism (1707–1741): J. A. Freylinghausen’s printed hymnal Geistreiches Gesangbuch (Halle 1733), owned by the Levoča Lumnitzer family; and 3) the decline of Pietism (1741–1783): J. A. Freylinghausen’s printed hymnal Geistreiches Ge sangBuch (Halle 1771) and the manuscript collections of pieces for keyboard owned by Eva Sofia Günther (1773) and Anna Günther (1783).
Freylinghausen’s collections are some of the few pieces of evidence for a long tradition of singing Pietist melodies from Halle in Spiš, and they bear witness to a certain autochthony in the development of music there in the eighteenth century. At the century’s end, the new intellectual currents of Rationalism and the Enlightenment began to take root, as witnessed by the repertoire of Eva Sofia and Anna Günther’s collections (music for concerts and entertainment), but even in these sources we can find sacred hymns to be sung during home devotions (Liebster Jesu, du wirst kommen, Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht, etc.). The trend of singing German spiritual songs at the turn of the nineteenth century is documented by the manuscript score of the Choralbuch by the organist Valentín Martin Reiss. Finally, we find the era of Pietist influence on musical life mentioned in archival documents quoted in a 1938 speech by the Lutheran pastor in Levoča Georg Wagner.
Keywords: history of musical culture; Pietism; multiethnic Lutheran musical life in Levoča/Leutschau; urban cantorate; J. A. Freylinghausen; hymn
Translated by Monika Dorna