Hudební Věda

Musical Duties of the City Trumpeter ca. 1550–1620: Parallels Between Moravia, Bratislava and Vienna

article summary

Hana Studeničová

The existence of city trumpeters (turner / pfeiffer) in major urban centres is copiously documented from as early as the fifteenth century. While their origi­nal duties included service as watchmen on city towers, setting clocks, signal­ling fire alerts or announcing the time with trumpet calls, in the course of the sixteenth century these duties already came to be modified, with the musical component gradually prevailing.

Recent research carried out in several Moravian cities as well as in Bratislava and Vienna has revealed beyond any doubt that by as early as the sixteenth century the city trumpeter and his back­up ensemble had already assumed a prominent position in the company of makers of urban musical culture. Apart from the trumpeters ́ original watch duties, their musical com­mitments can be divided into another two categories, depending on whether they were associated with playing in the secular or liturgical environments. Of the former, evidence survives of playing in compliance with mandatory obligations towards the city, i.e., during the traditional annual reconvening of the city council, during various banquets held in the town hall, marking the arrival in the city of a royal official or the sovereign in person, during corona­tion festivities, etc. Likewise falling within this category are musical perfor­mances catering to the burghers ́ private functions, namely, during weddings. Demonstrably, from around the mid­ sixteenth­ century trumpeters also came to be involved in liturgical activities, apart from participation in Sunday Mass, feast day and evening services playing also during Corpus Christi processions, Advent, feasts of churches ́ patron saints, in townhall chapel, etc.

The current amount of knowledge concerning the musical duties of city trumpeters in the municipalities under survey appears to be adequate. On the other hand however, in most of the cases studied virtually no information is available about the specific forms of these musical productions, i.e., about the exact share therein of both trumpeters, and in fact also singers and choirmas­ters or organists, or about the actual repertoire that was performed there, etc. Consequently, it remains to be hoped that further source materials will yet be discovered, or to engage in comparing the information available with findings from cities where such evidence has survived.

Key words: city trumpeter; musical duties; Moravian cities: Brno, Znojmo, Jihlava, Olomouc; comparison; Bratislava; Vienna

Translated by Ivan Vomáčka

The complete text of this article can be found in the printed edition of Hudební věda 2/2021