Adam Vaclav Michna

Biography

Born: 1600; Jindrichuv Hradec, Czech Republic   Died: November 2, 1676; Jindrichuv Hradec  
Adam Václav Michna is one of the most important artistic figures to emerge from the Czech lands during the dark period of the Thirty Years War. He was hugely successful and influential in the Czech lands as both a composer and a poet. He spent most of his life in his hometown of Jindrichuv Hradec in Moravia, where he was educated at the town's Jesuit gymnasium. The order seems to have been greatly impressed by his music and most of it was Read more published and reprinted by the press in Prague. Although Michna only ever held a single official appointment, that of organist in Jindrichuv Hradec, he also maintained close ties in powerful administrative circles of many major Czech towns and cities, including Prague, Olomouc, and Ceske Budejovice. Michna's (second) marriage and ownership of much property, including a successful wine cellar, helped him amass a substantial fortune. In 1673, decades after the war ended, he was able to establish an endowment to support and clothe promising young local musicians.

His compositions, of which only about a third survive, fall into two basic categories: liturgical settings in Latin for professionals, in the high Italian style, and Czech songs and hymns for parish churches, in a simpler, yet highly accomplished hymn-like manner. Of his concertante works, the Miss Sancti Wenceslai (dedicated to St. Vaclav, the Czech patron saint) is among his most accomplished works, displaying an expert handling of the mixed style, as well as idiomatic instrumental and vocal writing. His music designed for local churches was hugely popular and survives in numerous prints and manuscripts; these include Ceska marianska musika (Czech Marian Music), Svatorocni muzika (Music for the Holy Year), and Loutna ceska (The Czech Lute), the latter something of a stylistic bridge between the composer's two major types of output. Michna wrote the bulk of the texts for his sacred songs and hymns, which often speak of everyday issues in everyday language affecting Czech people on a daily basis. One of his many hymns appeals to St. Vaclav: "we Czechs call to you/harassed from all sides...those you shielded on Earth, shield them also in Heaven?" Read less

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