Benedictine Prelates and Their Musical Interests: Two Portraits from the Czech Lands in the 18th Century
The musical inclinations and activities of Benedictine prelates in the 18th cen- tury tend to point to their compliance with society’s overall mindset in the given era, and can thus readily illustrate the process of gradual transformation of Baroque society to one identifying with the age of Enlightenment which was then in the making. Surviving sources in the form of private diaries, correspondence and other types of “ego-documents” make possible the study of this phenomenon on the example of two Benedictine prelates in the Czech lands in the 18th century, Bonaventura Pitr, and Stephan Rautenstrauch. Apart from being a prominent exponent of the social, scholarly and cultural developments in the Czech lands of the time, provost of the Benedictine monastery at Rajhrad Bonaventura Pitr (1708–1764) was in his youth also an active musician (singer and organist) and occasional composer. Throughout Pitr’s lifetime, his musical inclinations went hand in hand with his scholarly pursuits, entailing meetings with protagonists of the contemporary musical scene in the Czech lands. In his contacts with Brno-based Augustinian monk Jeroným Haura, their common interests engendered close friendship whose ultimate manifestation was a Latin elegy abounding in musical motifs, probably authored by Pitr. The second personality whose portrait drawing on his musical activities is outlined here, Stephan Rautenstrauch (1734–1785), the abbot of the twin monasteries of Broumov and Břevnov, was a prominent proponent of the Josephine reforms in their aspects concerning monastic institutions. He was close to the Empress Maria Theresa, and, like Pitr, was in his youth an active musician. His private musical inclinations were focused on the Italian opera production of the time (e.g., Pasquale Anfossi; he was always in touch with the librettist, Pietro Metastasio), and are documented in the form of diary entries from his travels to major European cultural centres (Vienna, Esterháza, Venice and Dresden, among others).
Key words: Jakob Ernst von Liechtenstein-Castelcorno; Franz Karl von Liechtenstein-Castelcorno; Matthäus Gugl; Maria Conti; Johann Ernst Eberlin; Frederick II the Great; Olomouc Cathedral organ; Piarists; Bílá Voda
Translated by Ivan Vomáčka