Seminar in Medieval and Renaissance Music - Musical past and regionalism in early modern Silesia: the hymnbook of Valentin Triller
Always a borderland territory, Silesia was a meeting point for different ethnic groups, cultures, and confessions. In the 16th-century, most of the Silesian estates turned to the Reformation, but remained subjected to the Catholic Habsburgs, who ruled over Silesia as kings of Bohemia. Tolerance between the Lutheran and Catholic parties, caused by mutual dependence, existed side by side with confessional conflicts within the Evangelical church, stirred by the strong presence of radical spiritualist movements. Notwithstanding its multicultural and multiconfessional character, Silesia developed a strong territorial and ideological cohesion. This peculiar situation influenced artistic practices, among them music. In my contribution, I will focus on one specific musical source, Ein Schlesich [!] singebüchlein, edited by the Lutheran pastor Valentin Triller, and published in Wrocław, the ‘capital city’ of Silesia, in 1555. Curiously, the hymnbook avoids the usual ‘Lutheran’ hymn repertoire, and instead relies on a more peculiar and markedly retrospective repertoire. I will argue that the characteristics of the hymnbook’s paratexts and content are representative of a specific Silesian ‘regionalism’ (intended as regional consciousness), and they mirror the theological debate within the Silesian evangelical church. Analysis of the polyphonic hymns will also serve to address the reasons behind the survival of ‘archaic’ repertoires (a common phenomenon also in other central European regions), the ways of their circulation beyond borders and confessions, and their role in shaping religious and regional identities.