4 JULY, THURSDAY 7.30 pm
Mirror Hall of the Český Krumlov Castle

Madrigals, new and old - s concert marking the 60th anniversary of Bohuslav Martinů’s death

Collegium 419
chorus master Lukáš Vendl

Bohuslav Martinů
Willy Burkhard
William Byrd
Orlando Gibbons
Thomas Morley



Collegium 419 is a Prague-based vocal ensemble focusing on music ranging between the 16th and the 18th centuries. They have performed in a variety of line-ups, depending on the nature of projects: from a group of five singers to a chamber choir made up of 16 to 24 singers. Their concerts have often featured lesser known Renaissance and Baroque polyphonic works. Collegium 419 have collaborated with distinguished Czech instrumentalists specialised in historically informed early music performance. At the present time, the ensemble is being led by the chorus master Lukáš Vendl.

Secular and sacred madrigals

The expressiveness of the madrigal form and the new techniques allowing for intensive conveying of texts impressed the composers in the 17th-century Europe. One of the most renowned of the Protestant music creators who employed the innovative elements and phrases used by the best Italian masters of the time when Renaissance was evolving into Early Baroque was Heinrich Schütz, who studied in Italy, as well as, rather surprisingly, Johann Hermann Schein, J. S. Bach’s predecessor in the post of cantor at the Thomasschule in Leipzig. The genre of madrigal, originally merely treating secular subjects, transformed into a structure that splendidly served to interpret religious texts in the Lutheran conception of music. Our concert opens with a selection of settings of Psalms from Schein’s most refined collection of sacred vocal works, Israelsbrünnlein (Fountain of Israel). The second part of the first half of the programme features a remarkable reflection of these Early Baroque gems, written by the 20th-century Swiss composer Willy Burkhard, who in an extraordinarily sensitive manner linked up to the historical polyphonic techniques, bringing to bear the colourfulness of the modal system, while creating a vivid modern sound.

The madrigal became widely popular in England after the first extensive collection of Italian madrigals, Musica Transalpina, with the lyrics translated into English, appeared in the country in 1588. The Czech composer Bohuslav Martinů heard all the three madrigals included in tonight’s programme at a concert given by The English Singers vocal group, who performed at the Municipal House in Prague on 5 January 1922. The merry love songs based on a complex musical structure so enthralled him that in the 1930s Martinů wrote several madrigals. In his highly personal, intimate 1939 Czech Madrigals, he expressed his deep affection for the composer Vítězslava Kaprálová, a pupil 25 years younger.

Lukáš Vendl studied the organ at the Prague Conservatory (with Jan Hora) and at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (under the tutelage of Jaroslav Tůma), from which he graduated in 2003. Moreover, in 2002 he attended the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hamburg (under the guidance of Wolfgang Zerer). In his thesis he analysed music of the 17th and 18th centuries, particularly that for keyboard instruments. He has garnered accolades at competitions in the Czech Republic and further afield. Lukáš Vendl is currently the organist at the Church of St. Salvator in Prague, and he also teaches at the Prague Conservatory and the Charlotte Masaryk Primary Arts School. He has regularly worked as an educator at the summer early music classes in Valtice, Moravia, and other courses. Lukáš Vendl gave modern-time premieres of extensive vocal-instrumental works maintained at the Želiv Monastery archives. As an organist, harpsichordist and conductor, he has appeared at the Plzeň Organ Festival, the Haydn Festivities, the Želiv Festival, the Bach Week in Budapest, the Smečno Organ Festival, and other renowned musical events. He has co-operated with a number of oustanding soloists (e.g. the soprano Irena Troupová, the oboist Vilém Veverka, the flautist Jakub Kydlíček) and ensembles (Ensemble Inégal).