Journal for catholic church music and liturgy in the Czechoslovakian Republic

Volume LXIV

January - February 1938

Nr 1-2

E. Trolda: Vincenzo Albrici

To our supplement

No one has hitherto figured out what made the once famous composer Vincenzo Albrici to go to Prague in his old age. It sounds like a sort of resignation, when he on a printed text book to his Easter cantata ("Extraordinaria novorum paschalium relatio" sign. 52C53 Univ. Lib. Prague) describes himself with these words: "former music director of the kings, dukes, princes, music director of the former illustrious Saxon duke, today the resigned servant of the true music lovers". Something similar he writes on the text book to his oratorio Jephte (same location). Both compositions, dated 1684, prove, that he has been in Prague and that he had contact with a professor Dr. Jakub Jan Václav Dobenský, dean at the medical faculty, also with the Jesuit college at the Salvation church, the former he even frankly entitles patron.

Owing to this is the lexical information (Eitner, Riemann, Pazdírek), that Albrici conducted the music in the St. Augustinian church in Prague very dubious, more particularly when there is no church with that name in Prague. It could possibly be a question about the St. Thomas church or St. Catherine church, which both belonged to the Augustine eremites, or about the Marie Ascension at Karlov where the canons of the Augustinians usually were found; the St. Váchlav church is out of question, when it belonged to the barefoot Augustinians that mostly only kept to perform plainchant. But in the archives of the Augustinian eremites I have found no record about Albrici, and in Navrátil's monograph over Karlov he is not mentioned either, notwithstanding the musicians of the order are listed there and even the specification of the organ is mentioned.

Similarly we are in doubt about Albrici's date of death. Eitner states 1690, Riemann 8 August 1696. Riemann does not mention from where he has got such exact information; the day might be correct, but the year is probably a miss print. P Šebastian Labe dedicates namely to Albrici an epitaph in his epigrams from 1691 ("Salium millenari secundi ..." sign. 52I53 Univ. Lib.) on p. 71, something he should not have done, if Albrici that year had been alive. From this epitaph we also get informed that Albrici had a pupil in Prague, the priest Antonín Heisler, whom Labe dedicated two epitaphs. Heisler is here called "the most distinguished musician in Bohemia" and Albrici "this man, the most distinguished musicians most famous teacher". The language in the Baroque era had a predilection for superlative; thus it is not surprising that P Moric Vogt in his theoretical work "Conclavex thesauri magnae artis musicae" from 1719 names Albrici as "Alpha amongst the musicians of the last (17th) century".

That Albrici was an eminent musician is proved by his compositions kept in Prague; at the gallery of the St. Franciscus Seraphicus church and the library of the Knights of the Cross there are all together 11 items. One of the most extent is the "Offertorium pro Domenica Pentecostes a 5 voci soli et ripieni, 2 Violini, 2 Viole, 4 Trombe, 2 Cornetti, 3 Tromboni, Fagotto et Organo". Consequently it is a question of a composition with extraordinary powerful scoring, still not a composition for double choirs, as one might think wrongly, as "ripieni" differs from the solo parts only by the number of rests. The scoring as well as the composition itself is rich; it includes namely the following movements:

1. Sinfonia (17 bars)
2. Choir with solo terzetto "Confirma hoc" (114 bars)
3. Solo for soprano: "Huc deorsum sacrosancte" (18 bars)
4. Choir, the same text (14 bars)
5. Solo for bass: "Dona, ut ardoris tui" (47 bars)
6. Terzetto: "Veni festina" (19 bars)
7. Solo for tenor: "A te nunquam derelinquar" (22 bars)
8. Choir: "Inflammemur" (15 bars)
9. Solo for alto: "Rege cor" (40 bars)
10. Terzetto: "Fac ut intus" (53 bars)
11. Nr. 2 (114 bars) repeated

The solos Nr. 3, 5, 6, 7, 9 and 10 are only accompanied by the organ according to the figured bass, in some places the violin and organ make a short postlude, they are also labelled "Sinfonia".

In our supplement the accompaniment is out written by me, at which I here and there tried to add small imitations. However, the original figures of the thorough bass have been preserved to give everyone the possibility to arrange the accompaniment after his own judgment. Neither the tempo nor the dynamic signs are compelling, as they do not appear in the original; only "piano" in the third bar before the end is original. The movement shows that it is an excerpt from a larger composition, partly because it starts in G major and ends in C major, partly because it does not have the aria form. Despite that it deserves to be published and also performed, as it is written in a genuine clerical style that reveals the Roman origin of the composer. Its characteristic is the seriousness and deepness of the thoughts, elegant temperance, interesting rhythm and unexpected harmonic changes. The other compositions also possess a similar style, up to the extension we have the possibility to investigate them. Therefore it is irreparable damage that totally 20 of Albrici's compositions that are recorded in the inventory of the Cistercian monastery in Osek for the years 1706-1733 are wasted.

[Into English: Jan Enberg]