Music of Slovakia

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The fujara, a traditional Slovak shepherd's pipe Fujaro ludado tuta bildo.jpg
The fujara, a traditional Slovak shepherd's pipe

The music of Slovakia has been influenced both by the county's native Slovak peoples and the music of neighbouring regions. Whilst there are traces of pre-historic musical instruments, the country has a rich heritage of folk music and mediaeval liturgical music, and from the 18th century onwards, in particular, musical life was influenced by that of Austria-Hungary. In the 19th century, composers such as Jan Levoslav Bella began to write romantic music with a Slovak character. In the twentieth century, there were a number of composers who identified with Slovak culture. After the fall of communism in 1989–90 the country also began to develop its own popular music scene in Western style.

Slovakia Republic in Central Europe

Slovakia, officially the Slovak Republic, is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east, Hungary to the south, Austria to the west, and the Czech Republic to the northwest. Slovakia's territory spans about 49,000 square kilometres (19,000 sq mi) and is mostly mountainous. The population is over 5.4 million and consists mostly of Slovaks. The capital and largest city is Bratislava, and the second largest city is Košice. The official language is Slovak.

The Slovaks are a nation and West Slavic ethnic group native to Slovakia who share a common ancestry, culture, history and speak the Slovak language.

Folk music Music of the people

Folk music includes traditional folk music and the genre that evolved from it during the 20th-century folk revival. Some types of folk music may be called world music. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted orally, music with unknown composers, or music performed by custom over a long period of time. It has been contrasted with commercial and classical styles. The term originated in the 19th century, but folk music extends beyond that.


History of music in Slovakia

The term Slovak music is slightly confusing; many peoples lived over the ages in the territory now represented by the state of Slovakia, and the history of the region's music is therefore not merely the history of the music of the Slovaks

Ejlucka, Luckasiroka, traditional Slovak song.

Earliest times

Bone pipes dating from the Early Bronze Age (about 3000 BC) have been found in the Nitra region, testifying to the early role of music in the Celtic 'Nitra Culture'. Such instruments were produced continuously, albeit with more sophistication, up to the mediaeval period. Other early instruments found include drums dating back to the Palaeolithic period, iron and bronze bells from the 3rd or 4th century AD. [1] Other folk instruments of the region whose early development must remain largely conjectural include the fujara and the Slovak versions of bagpipes and the jaw harp. They certainly existed in the 15th century. [2]

Bone rigid organs that constitute part of the endoskeleton of vertebrates

A bone is a rigid organ that constitutes part of the vertebrate skeleton. Bones protect the various organs of the body, produce red and white blood cells, store minerals, provide structure and support for the body, and enable mobility. Bones come in a variety of shapes and sizes and have a complex internal and external structure. They are lightweight yet strong and hard, and serve multiple functions.

Pipe (instrument) simple wooden flute

A pipe is a tubular wind instrument in general, or various specific wind instruments. The word is an onomatopoeia, and comes from the tone which can resemble that of a bird chirping.

Nitra City in Slovakia

Nitra is a city in western Slovakia, situated at the foot of Zobor Mountain in the valley of the river Nitra. With a population of about 78,559 it is the fifth-largest city in Slovakia. Nitra is also one of the oldest cities in Slovakia; it was the political center of the Principality of Nitra. Today, it is a seat of a kraj and an okres.

The medieval period

From the medieval period onwards writers identify a number of principal streams of music in Slovakia. The principal classifications include church music, folk music, and instrumental music heard in towns and courts. Each of these has of course numerous subsidiary classifications.

Some of the oldest recorded forms of music in Slovakia are liturgical song (in Old Slavonic) from the time of Great Moravian empire (9th century), from which developed much of the sacred music of later centuries. Latin plainsong was also widespread in the region at this early period, especially after the incororation of Slovakia into the Kingdom of Hungary in 1218. Early codices include the 'Nitra Gospels' of c. 1100, and the 'Pray codex' (c. 1195). From the 15th to the 17th centuries, polyphony was practised and developed at many urban centres, including Bratislava, Bardejov, Levoča and Kežmarok. [3] [4]

Liturgy is the customary public worship performed by a religious group. As a religious phenomenon, liturgy represents a communal response to and participation in the sacred through activity reflecting praise, thanksgiving, supplication or repentance. It forms a basis for establishing a relationship with a divine agency, as well as with other participants in the liturgy.

Old Church Slavonic Medieval Slavic literary language

Old Church Slavonic or Old Slavonic, also known as Old Church Slavic or Old Slavic, was the first Slavic literary language. It is also referred to as Paleo-Slavic (Paleoslavic) or Palaeo-Slavic (Palaeoslavic), not to be confused with the Proto-Slavic. It is often abbreviated to OCS.

Great Moravia 9th century Slavic state

Great Moravia, the Great Moravian Empire, or simply Moravia, was the first major state that was predominantly West Slavic to emerge in the area of Central Europe, chiefly on what is now the territory of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, and Serbia (Vojvodina). The only formation preceding it in these territories was Samo's Empire known from between 631 and 658 AD. Great Moravia was thus the first joint state of the Slavonic tribes that became later known as Czechs and Slovaks and that later formed Czechoslovakia.

In 1526 when Slovakia became part of the empire of the Habsburgs, Bratislava became a coronation city, and this was to greatly influence the development of formal music in the country's towns. In the countryside, folk music developed in a more insular manner in the country's various regions.

Seventeenth and eighteenth centuries

As elsewhere in Europe, the Church and the aristocracy became the main patrons of formal music during this period. Church composers were active throughout the country; e.g., in the polyphonic tradition, Andreas Neoman who worked at Bardejov and elsewhere in the early 17th century, Ján Šimbracký (d. 1657), organist at the Protestant church in Spišské Podhradie, and Samuel Marckfelner (1621–1674), organist at Levoča. In the larger towns, especially in Bratislava, the influence of the Italian concertante style was felt, composers in this vein including Samuel Capricornus (1628–1665) (who eventually became kapellmeister for a prince of Stuttgart), his successor at the Protestant church in Breatislava, Johann Kusser (1626–1696).

Bardejov Town in Slovakia

Bardejov is a town in North-Eastern Slovakia. It is situated in the Šariš region on a floodplain terrace of the Topľa River, in the hills of the Beskyd Mountains. It exhibits numerous cultural monuments in its completely intact medieval town center. The town is one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites and currently maintains a population of about 32,000 inhabitants.

Organ (music) musical keyboard instrument

In music, the organ is a keyboard instrument of one or more pipe divisions or other means for producing tones, each played with its own keyboard, played either with the hands on a keyboard or with the feet using pedals. The organ is a relatively old musical instrument, dating from the time of Ctesibius of Alexandria, who invented the water organ. It was played throughout the Ancient Greek and Ancient Roman world, particularly during races and games. During the early medieval period it spread from the Byzantine Empire, where it continued to be used in secular (non-religious) and imperial court music, to Western Europe, where it gradually assumed a prominent place in the liturgy of the Catholic Church. Subsequently it re-emerged as a secular and recital instrument in the Classical music tradition.

Spišské Podhradie Town in Slovakia

Spišské Podhradie is a town in Spiš in the Prešov Region of Slovakia. Its population is 3,826.

By the eighteenth century, Catholic musicians began to take the musical lead over their Protestant colleagues. A highly rated composer was František Xaver Budinský (1676–1727), who appears to have been a Jesuit lay brother and worked in Trnava, Prešov, Košice, Trenčín, and elsewhere in Slovakia. His compositions include three symphonies, the earliest known to have been written in Slovakia.

Trnava City in Slovakia

Trnava is a city in western Slovakia, 47 km (29 mi) to the north-east of Bratislava, on the Trnávka river. It is the capital of a kraj and of an okres. It is the seat of a Roman Catholic archbishopric. The city has a historic center. Because of the many churches within its city walls, Trnava has often been called "parva Roma", i.e. "Little Rome", or more recently, the "Slovak Rome".

Prešov City in Slovakia

Prešov is a city in Eastern Slovakia. It is a seat of the administrative Prešov Region and Šariš as well as the historic Szepes County of the Kingdom of Hungary. With a population of approximately 91,352, it is the third-largest city in Slovakia. It lends its name to the Eperjes-Tokaj Hill-Chain. There are many tourist attractions in Prešov such as castles, pools and the old town.

Košice City in Slovakia

Košice is the largest city in eastern Slovakia and in 2013 was the European Capital of Culture. It is situated on the river Hornád at the eastern reaches of the Slovak Ore Mountains, near the border with Hungary. With a population of approximately 240,000 Košice is the second largest city in Slovakia after the capital Bratislava.

Nineteenth century

In the first half of the 19th century, a national musical tradition began to develop around Slovakia’s impressive folk heritage. Modern Slovak music drew from both classical and folk styles. A key figure who began this fusion is Ján Levoslav Bella, born in Liptovský Mikuláš (1843–1936), a contemporary of Antonín Dvořák and Leoš Janáček. Slovak modes and melodies can be heard clearly in his third string quartet, as well as in many of his other works. He also wrote the first opera to be performed in Slovak, Kováč Wieland (Wieland the Smith), written in German in 1880-1890, but premiered in Slovak in Bratislava in 1926.

Modern times

Well-known works from the 20th century include the compositions of Eugen Suchoň, Alexander Moyzes, Alexander Albrecht and the operas of Ján Cikker. The internationally most acknowledged composers of the 21st century are Vladimír Godár, Peter Breiner, Peter Machajdík and Iris Szeghy.

Musical ensembles and festivals

Amongst the most significant contemporary orchestral ensembles are the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra of Bratislava, the State Philharmonic Orchestra of Kosice, the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Slovak Chamber Orchestra (known as the Warchalovci after their founder Bohdan Warchal), and the chamber orchestra Capella Istropolitana. There are opera companies in Bratislava, Košice and Banská Bystrica. Music festivals include the annual Bratislava Music Festival (Bratislavské hudobné slávnosti), Indian Summer in Levoča (Levočské babie leto), Festival of Piešťany (Piešťanský festival), one of longest established festivals, dating from 1955, the Konvergencie Chamber Music Festival founded in 1999 by cellist, Jozef Lupták, Music at Fulla (Hudba u Fullu) in Ružomberok founded 2009 by composer Peter Machajdik, and many others.

See also


  1. Elschek 2003 , pp. 45–9
  2. Elschek 2003 , pp. 482–4
  3. Elschek 2003 , pp. 56–61
  4. OMOL, Slovakia

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