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Bohuslav Cernohorsky

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Bohuslav Cernohorsky

Biography

Friar Czernohorsky (1684-1742) was a Minorite Franciscan priest/organist/composer from Bohemia, the western most region of present-day Czechoslovakia. Born in Nymburk, Bohemia on Feb. 16, 1684 into a family of musicians, his organist/singer father, Samuel, gave him his first musical education. His Bachelor of Philosophy degree was received in Prague at Charles University. At the age of 19, he entered the Friars Minor, the Franciscan Convent of St. Jakub in Prague, making his religious profession the following year. From 1704-1710, he continued his studies in philosophy, theology and music, being ordained to the priesthood in 1708. It was at St. Jakub's that he studied organ and counterpoint with the musically renowned Friar Frantisek Bernard Arthophaeus. At the age of 26, he was sent to Assisi, Italy, to complete his theological studies. It is here that he became first organist at the Basilica of St. Francis. The Minorite Order, founded by St. Francis of Assisi, bequeathed to his spiritual sons, among other things, a devotion to singing and music, a legacy faithfully fulfilled. It was here for the Easter of 1712, that Friar Bohuslav composed the Marian antiphon, Regina Coeli, for 8 voices in double choir, organ and continuo. It is his only work written in single parts for immediate performance. Although premiered in Italy, he signed and dated this composition by his pen name, Bohemian Friar from Prague, Organist.

A decisive compositional characteristic of his is in the treatment of the basso continuo in the Regina Coeli, which is full of expressive tension. Utilizing the cello an octave above the bass viol along with the organ provides a unique color. It exhibits his technical ability, artistic maturity and creative potential in a special degree. The last 5 years of life were served in Padua as first organist till August of 1741 when he departed for Bohemia. Illness, however, forced him to stop at Graz in Styria. Here he died, at age 58, in July of 1742.

Cernohorsky's pupils include Guiseppe Tartini, to whom he taught counterpoint between 1711-1714 in Assisi. Later on while in Prague, he taught Gluck, and organ to the young Josef Seger between 1723 and 1731. His close musical associates and friends included members of both the Brixi and Benda families, Frantsek Tuma, Jan Zach, and J. A. Sehling. From 1725-1727, he had a close association with the Italian opera company director, Andrea Denzio, while in Prague.

An excellent organist and composer, he is credited with founding the Prague School of composers that represented the culmination of the Baroque movement in Bohemia and prepared the way for early Classicism. Through his strong musical personality, he exercised a vast influence on the 18th century Bohemian musical rebirth as a guiding spirit and pioneer and leader with the utmost in dedication and determination.


Works for Winds


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