This year we focus on the ‘XIII Century’ (deliberately in quotes, indicating our intention of presenting musical aspects of interesting phenomena of the time rather than a strict chronology).
The XIII century was truly a remarkable age in European history. It was a time of cultural, intellectual and spiritual ferment. It was a time when the ‘new’ was born: new ways of viewing and describing the world; new orders and heresies emerging – spirituality growing in its different shades; the peak of the Crusades – new encounters with Orient. This was the time of Saints Francis and Dominic, of Thomas Aquinas, Dante and Giotto.
We can say that the Europe before and the Europe after the XIII century are two different worlds. Changes, which embers had certainly smouldered for some time, occurred in many areas of life: the way of thinking; of perceiving the world; of describing reality (directly experienced or theoretically apprehended). ‘Zeitgeist’ influenced the forms of religion,
language, science and technology. The effects of some processes originating in that age persist in various forms even now.
During that age, music became a subject of research, investigation and teaching. At newly emerging universities, it became an element of scholastic teaching as a part of the quadrivium. From ars, or craftsmanship, music evolved into scientia.
The crusades, the main goal of which was to regain the Holy Land for Christianity, led to the encounter of the European West with the Orient – after several hundred years of development, a highly sophisticated Muslim culture and science. Franks and their allies brought from the crusades not only musical instruments and patterns of poetic genres but also Arabic translations of the works of philosophers and scientists of Antiquity.
Europe of the age adopted Aristotle. Relying on Aristotelian thinking and analysis, adopting the mode of apprehending reality through categories and definitions, Saint Thomas wrote his Summa Theologiae, Vincent de Beauvais his Speculum maius, and Hieronymus de Moravia, in the spirit of his confrere Aquinas, his Tractatus de Musica.
In the present, confreres of Thomas and Hieronymus – their spiritual and intellectual descendants – are the members of the Dominican Order. Dominicans have accompanied the festival from its beginning in Jarosław and they inspire and contribute to many of our doings. This year, on the eve of the 800th anniversary of their order, they will present musical aspects of Dominican tradition, ranging from archival sources to current liturgical practice.