The music culture of every country, in each phase of its development, becomes an integral part of its general culture and depends on economic and political circumstances, within national borders and without. This culture may be richer and more self-conscious in an organisationally compact, economically more developed, and nationally independent community. The development of musical culture may be hindered, on the other hand, in those countries which have suffered difficult or critical moments during their national and economic development. Croatia found itself under the domination of foreign conquerors and invaders for around eight centuries: first Hungarians and then Venetians, Ottomans, and Austro-Hungarians. The hardest period of all fell during the sixteenth century, when the territory of Croatia was divided and impoverished. Lacerated by the war and insurrection, Croatia was more focused on the preservation of its national identity than on the development its own culture. Consequently, and as is the case for the other Slavs, one can understand the rather late appearance of the Croatian composers on the European music scene.
Of all the Slavs, the Croatians alone looked back to the ancient Mediterranean world after settling in a new land. The heritage of Antiquity and of Western European Christianity has been constant factors in the cultural life of the Croatians and points of reference that determined their musical life through the ages.
As for the activity of specific musicians, concrete information begins in the sixteenth century. Prior to that time, we have many records relating to church music in monasteries and ecclesiastical establishments. Among these cultural testimonies are numerous codices, missals, antiphons and sacred textes. The oldest extant document dates back to the tenth century and presumably originates from the St. Gallen Monastery. Information about the lives of Croatian musicians of the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries mostly relates to musicians from the Croatian Adriatic coastal region, and to artists living abroad. The most important influences on the development of the lute, and activities of troubadours in Istria, Slovenia, and Dalmatia came from nearby Italy, so it is not surprising that the most intense cultural life was developed along the Adriatic coast. Dalmatia, under Venetian rule, benefitted culturally from its proximity to Italy, while Dalmatian cities, such as Dubrovnik, Hvar, and Split, become commercially stronger thanks once again to their prosperous neighbour. Dubrovnik was even able to win a long period of independence. It is in Dubrovnik that we find the richest and the earliest written sources concerning the lute in Croatia. The lute and lute players of fourteenth and fifteenth centuries are quite richly documented, especially in paintings.
From the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries, there are 34 known surviving painted representations of the lute in Croatia. Twelve are in Istria, one example being in the Chapel of St. Anthony in Žminj, where a lute player is shown at the coronation of the Virgin among eight angels playing instruments. This depiction dates from 1381 and was painted by a Venetian master, and, for that reason, this early representation of a lute player can be ascribed to the Italian cultural world, but may very well be the first image of the European lute outside the Latin and north-west European countries. Likewise, the representation of the lute inside the Chapel of St. Martin (the parish church) at Beram, dating back to 1431, is ascribed to a Venetian painter. Three depictions of the lute can be found in the frescoes in the Church of St. Mary Na Škriljinama at Beram, made by a local painter. These representations are distinguished for a precise observation of the lute’s design and perfect knowledge of the instrument. Moreover, and fascinatingly for this early date, they introduce quite a new element, namely they show the lute being played with the fingers and not with a plectrum. A painting by a local painter at the Church of St. Mary in Oprtalj, dating from the third quarter of the fifteenth century, is similar. In the Church of St. George in Lovran, on the fretted vault, we find three angel lute players, painted between 1470 and 1479 by late-Gothic Istrian painters. Here, we can see three different sizes of lute; small, medium, and very large. The standard type of the lute for its time is represented in the frescoes of the Church of St. Mary of the Field at Božje Polje near Vižinada, the work of an unknown Istrian painter active at the end of the fifteenth century. The image of a lute by the master Blaž of Dubrovnik, in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit at the Nova Vas near Šušnjevac dates from the sixteeth century.
In Dalmatia, we find six representations of the lute from the period of the renaissance. The first, a smaller type of instrument, dates from 1503 and is depicted in Korčula cathedral. Another image of a lute can be found on the poliptych of Dujam Vušković, dating from 1450, today preserved in the Franciscan monastery in Zadar. Thereafter, the lute appears on a repainted Byzantine icon from the first half of the sixteenth century, a work by an unknown Byzantine master at the cathedral in Kotor; in an image of the Adoration by the painter Vicko Lovrin; in the Franciscan church in Cavtat; and in two pictures probably by Italian painters, in the Church of St. Mary in Lastovo, and in the Church of the Trinity at Baška on the island of Krk.
Croatia proper is poorer with regard to representations of the lute. Only two examples survive: one in the Gothic fresco in the Church of Martinščina near Zlatar, dated to the fifteenth century, and the sculpture on the late Gothic altar of the former Franciscan church in Remetinac, now in the Arts and Crafts Museum in Zagreb.
The richest source of pictorial representations of the lute is in fact illuminated manuscripts: from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century there are thirteen recorded examples. These manuscripts are found in Zagreb (two images in the National and University Library, in manuscripts MR170, MR179, and three more in the Strossmayer Gallery, in Matteo da Milano’s Livre d’heures), in Zadar (at the Franciscan monastery, in Antiphonarium ‘E’, and Psalterium chori ‘M’); in Split (two images in the Cathedral treasury, in the Psalterium Romanum) and at Kampor on the island of Rab (in a Breviarium in the Franciscan monastery).
Archival sources in Zagreb for the later period mention only one lute player in the early sixteenth century. His name was Gregorius, and he was a city councillor between 1512 and 1517. This implies an important public status, and considering the prestige of the lute in the renaissance, this is not strange.
Municipal records in the archives at Dubrovnik let refer to the activities of lute players twice in our period. One player was Georgius ab Arpa. There is a record of the Lesser Council referring to the Great Council, on 26 March 1423, to assign him an apartment owned by the state. In another record, he received a permit to travel abroad from Dubrovnik to Venice on some business. In both documents he is mentioned as magister sonator de liuto et arpa. This is a significant record in that it seems to testify to the educational role of this musician, and one may conclude that the lute had a strong place in the pedagogy as well as practice of music in Dubrovnik as early as the first half of the fifteenth century. Moreover, the title magister showed that he had attained the highest standing in his field. He received a house where, we may suppose, he thought the lute and the harp.
In the same period on 5 October 1503, the lutenist Mighelco Lautarius and Pether Textor lautar as well as Marin Stojach are mentioned. The last of these left his new lute to Ratko di Braia, who presumably played the lute himself. He was the son of the lutenist Stoiaz.
The lute had a special and important place in the literature of renaissance Dubrovnik. The lute, named leut, is mentioned, among others, in the writings of the famous writer Marko Marulić (1450-1520). The moralistic rhymes of his Anka Satira are dedicated to the young men ‘walking and playing the lute’ (pojeć hode u leutu zvoneći). Moreover, the lute is mentioned by the writers and poets Ranjina, Džore Držić, Nalješković, Gradić and Baraković. The Petrarchian lute lyric, as well as other similar Italian lyrics (strambotti, rispetti, and so on), were surely accompanied by the lute. An insight into the context of this poetry and society can be found in a poem in the collection of Nikša Ranjina, ascribed to Džore Držić:
Leute moj mili, hoću te molìti
mojõjzi gospòji malo pozvoniti,
jèda ti od mene bolje srjeće budeš
čemerno tere nje srdačce dobùdeš.
Oh, my cherished lute, I’d like to entreat thee
To strum a little to my fair maid,
But thou should’st have a better fate than me
And take that distressed heart of hers.
Unfortunately, nothing has remaind of the kind of music suggested by these verses and historical accounts. These lute-song singers and poets no doubt included Menčetić and Držić, throughout their creative lives, while Marulić, Lucić, Hektorović and Vetranović seemed to have played in their youth. The trubaduri – troubadours – were active, and their poetry current, until the mid-sixteenth century, but the leut, although it disappeared from poetry thereafter, lived on, as musicologist the late Božidar Širola has asserted, as an aristocratic and urban instrument until the beginning of the seventeenth century. On the occasion of the death of the comic writer Marin Držić, the Benedictine Mavro Vetranović lists a wide range of instruments played in Dubrovnik at this period in his famous song Na preminutje Marina Držića Dubrovčanina tužba (Lament on the occasion of Death of Marin Držić of Dubrovnik) and the lute is mentioned in the first line, implying that it was a most popular instrument:
plačni su leuti i tužni ostali
nijemi su flauti i ostali svirali.
smetel je violune taj čemer nemili,
da slatko ne zvone kako su zvonili;
još išteti nesretni taj poraz,
kordine i korneti da izgube slatki glas,
smuti monikorde i glavončimbale,
smete arpikorde i žice ostale.
Tearful and mournful remained the lutes
Mute are the flutes and other pipes,
Dazed are the violins by this grievous pain
So they do not resound as sweetly as before;
That unfortunate defeat still desires
Strings and cornets to lose the suave sound,
To confound the harpsichords and other strings.
The writer and philosopher Nikola Vitov Gučetć (alias Nicolo Vito di Gozze 1549-1610) may be considered the most prominent intellectual in Dubrovnik in this period. He was a writer, philosopher, theologian, aestheticist, pedagogue, lawyer and politician, who was elected Duke of Dubrovnik seven times. His thoughts about music were published in two of his works. The first deals with the education of children, the elementary factor, in his opinion, for the good organisation of a country. Gučetić thought that children should be thought both the vocal and instrumental music. In his work entitled Dello stato delle Republiche (Venice, 1591) he wrote:
the most honorable instruments are, I believe, the viola [probably the viol, but possibly the viola da mano], the lute, and the clavicembalo [harpsichord], not only for the young but also for the older people. The clavicembalo is more appropriate for the old than for the young. For the latter, the lute and the viola are the proper instruments for the resting of the spirit…».
The great popularity of lute playing is documented, as it were, in 1535 when the archbishop Andrija Cornelius ordered the priest of Split ‘not to sing and play love songs on lute at night’. The same type of criticism has already been noted in the works of the writer Marko Marulić, who complained the young ‘…that they walk and play the lute at night’.
Gabriello Puliti was an Italian composer and organ player. Born in the city of Montepulciano in 1580, he became a Franciscan monk at a very young age. He lived in the region of Istria from 1604 to 1643, when he died. He was a prolific composer, and of around thirty-six substantial works fifteen have been preserved, ten in their entirety. He composed madrigals, masses, and motets, and instrumental works, and in fact composed in all the musical forms of the time except opera. Puliti’s works are more than merely historiographical interest, as is clear when we turn our attention to his masquerade collection published in 1612. This kind of music was very popular in character and provoked an embarrassed response from the Franciscan order. Puliti dedicated his collection Ghirlande odorifera to a nobleman from Labin, Tranquillo Negri. In the dedication, he writes that he was a well-known and welcome guest in the Palace of the Negri and that he played his mascherate ‘many times on lute, cittern, and other instruments’. The Ghirlande were neither his first nor his last sin. In 1621, he published a collection entitled Armonici accenti a voce sola, of single-voice madrigals to be accompanied by the chitarrone, and again this collection of love songs was dedicated to the Negri family. These are faboulus compositions and rare examples of early baroque song with lute accompaniment originating in Croatia. With this composer, from early seventeeth-century Istria, it is clear that music there was interwoven with the wider European musical developments of the seicento.
In the years 1587 and 1588 the main square in Osor was a center for theatrical and musical events, a unicum in the history of the Croatian renaissance theatre, testified to by a small booklet bearing the interesting title Ghirlande conteste al Clarissimo Signor Sebastian Quirini nel suo felicissimo regimento dell’Isola Cherso et Ossero (Padova: Lorenzo Pasquati, 1588.). This print of more than 100 pages describes the theatricals dedicated to the count Sebastiano Querini which took place in Osor, in the years 1578 and 1588. The author of the booklet was one Stefanello de Petris. This Venetian aristocrat Querini invited a theatrical company from Italy, nobilissime foreigners, to magnify his rule. The third Ghirlanda was extremely elaborate and was performed in a lavish theatrical set, presumably a copy of the square of San Marco in Venice. Nonetheless, all the music was sung by a single character, Apollo, accompanied on the lute.
Much information on the music and musicians of Croatia is preserved in Venetian sources. The first known printed music for a Croatian dance, titled Pavana sesta detta la Schiavonetta was published in Venice in 1569, in Giulio Cesare Barbetta’s Il primo libro dell’intavolature de liuto, one of the three extant copies of which is today in Venice, in the Biblioteca Marciana.
The word leut or laut was proper to Croatian and was the term originally used for the lute. In fact, this word is the ‘Croatised’ version of the Italian words leuto giving rise to leut, or lauto, giving laut. However, the word lutnja supplanted this usage, presumably borrowed from some Slavic languages: the Polish lutnia, the Chech loutna, and the Russian ljutnja. According to the Croatian musicologist Stanislav Tuksar, the word lutnja may have been introduced by the founder of Croatian musicology, the late Franjo Kuhač.
The obvious semantic structure and origins of the word leut give evidence of the presence of the lute in Croatian musical culture over many centuries, as we have seen, from 1381 down to early seventeenth-century Dubrovnik, as has been established by the musicologist Božidar Širola.
Franciscus Bossinensis (1490 – ?)
On the basis of surviving musical works, and the scanty biographical evidence concerning the musical culture of the sixteenth century Croatia, Franjo Bosanac (alias Franciscus Bossinensis, or Francis the Bosnian) is considered to be one of the first Croatian and Bosnian composers. Almost certainly born at the end of the fifteenth century, around 1490, presumably in Bosnia, he lived in Venice and worked in the printing house of the music publisher Ottaviano Petrucci. He was a friend of the notary of the Church of San Marco, Girolamo Barbadigo, to whom he dedicated his work. The dedication appears in the introduction of each of his two collections of lute-song arrangements, Tenori e contrabassi intabulati col sopran in canto figurato per cantar e sonar col lauto (Venice, 1509, and Fossombrone, 1511), and there is a dedicatory sonnet that is a part of this introduction. However, the meaning of the initials ‘BMF’ at the end of the sonnet is likely to remain forever a secret, as is the year and the place of his death. The late Dragutin Plamenac supposed that Bossinensis was originally a Franciscan from Bosnia, or a court musician of a Bosnian king. The late Josip Andreis suggested the interesting hypothesis that the initials stand for ‘Bossinensis Magister Franciscus’. Bossinensis (from Bosnia) would refer to his Croatian origins, as would the Catholic name Franciscus, leading us to the assumption that he was a Croatian from Bosnia – as does his music, standing in the Western European, Mediterranean tradition. One may assume that he died in Venice in the middle of the sixteenth century.
The survival of his books mean that his work can be studied in detail. The two collections of Bossinensis mark the boundary between two epochs in the Croatian music. Prior to his period of activity, all that we have is medieval, anonymous, and monodic music; with him begins the period when Croatian music is integrated into wider European developments. Bossinensis was both composer and arranger, of his own and others’ works. A skilled intabulator, he transcribed frottole, which were poliphonic songs, stylistically derived from native Italian popular song, composed by the leading Italian song composers Marco Cara, Bartolomeo Trombocino, and others. He also transcribed frottole composed by anonimous composers, and of his own composition. In addition he was also the author of a small number of ricercare for the lute, short pieces to played before, between and after the song. In common with other early Italian lute prints, to help and encourage those with more limited musical knowledge, his books include an explanation of tablature: Regole per quelli che non sano cantare.
His method of transcribing frottole as lute songs was simple: the highest voice part of the original is given to the solo voice while the tenor and the bass lines are intabulated for the lute, omitting the alto line entirely. Bossinensis published 102 frottole and 46 ricercari. The collection of Tenori e contrabassi are of great importance for understanding the vocal and instrumental practice of the early sixteenth century, and are the earliest printed collection of accompanied renaissance song. His importance for Croatian as well as for European culture is enormous: he points the way, ultimately, to early baroque monody in his reworking of frottole for one voice and the lute, transforming them into compositions for solo voice.
The major-minor key system was not yet crystallised in the renaissance, and an oscillation between the older church modes, on the one hand, and major-minor tonality on the other give a special charm to the music of this time. The Bossinensis’s ricercari are important in this respect too, having the character of short instrumental introductions of an improvisatory nature.
Francesco Sagabria (around 1550 – after 1606); a note by Ennio Stipčević
To the history of the Croatian music we must add a new name, that of Francesco Sagabria, documented in the Biblioteca Comunale of Ancona. For the recent publication of the information about him, and the music which bears his name, we are indebted to the Italian musicologist Franco Colussi, who has published his documentation of Sagabria’s life in a recent edition of Orologio’s Canzonette a tre voci di Alessandro Orologio Intavolate per sonar di liuto & nuovamante stampate (Venice: Giacomo Vincenti, 1596; modern edition, Udine: Pizzicato, 1993), one which of a series of editions of Orologio’s works.
On the basis of the documentation, discussed by Colussi, and further researches of Stipčević, it has been established that Francesco Sagabria, originally from Zagreb, was the author for the lute tabulatures published as a part of collection of Orologio’s Canzonette of 1596. This would make Sagabria the first identifiable musician from the northern part of Croatia; he was presumably a composer.
Alessandro Orologio (1555-1633), composer of the Canzonette, was born in a small town near Udine, in the region of Friuli, and worked almost exclusively in the castles of Austrian and German noble families. He published many compositions. In 1595, he received a visit from John Dowland, who mentioned Orologio as an excellent teacher. (Here we have an indirect relationship between Dowland and Sagabria, and in opinion of author of the main body of this paper, Antun Mrzlečki, they probably met). He published three collections of three-voice Canzonette (in 1593, 1594, and 1596), structurally simple compositions in the style of the time. The Canzonette of 1596 comprised fourteen pieces; most of them, at least eleven, had been published in earlier editions. In contrast with the previous collections of Canzonette, this one includes lute tabulature accompaniments as well as voice parts. Francesco Sagabria was the editor and author of the tabulatures, as is stated in the introduction and in the dedication to his Maecenas, Heinrich Julius, the duke of Brunswick and Luneburg.
In his dedication, Sagabria explains that he has edited some previously published canzonette by Orologio, and added some new ones, and making an effort to add appropriate tabulatures:
Havendo io raccolto alcune canzonette uscite fuori sin a quest’hora del Sig. Alessandro Orologio, & hauendone aggiunte alcune altre nove, che’gli non haveva ancora publicate, ho procurato che sijno diligentemente intavolate.
(Having gathered together some canzonets by Signor Alessandro Orologio which have gone abroad before now, and having added some new ones not atready published, I have seen to it that they are diligently intabulated …’)
This dedicatory note, reproduced by Colussi is important for the task of establishing the editorial and compositional works of Sagabria. The Italian musicologists Franco Colussi and Dinko Fabris have analysed the tabulatures by Sagabria and agree that he was an clearly an able lutenist, cleverly arranging lute accompaniments for the voice parts of Orologio’s canzonetti. An exhaustive study of the Sagabria’s tabulatures remains to be done.
In his introduction, Colussi gives some biographical information about Sagabria, his parents, Maria and Nicolo, his relatives (his uncle Giacomo and brother Gerolamo, both musicians), and about his involvement in instrumental ensembles in the town of Udine, in Gorizia, and later in Dresden. Colussi interprets his surname Sagabria as meaning ‘from Zagreb’ – ‘da Zagabria’. It is important to note that the presence of people from Zagreb in Udine during the sixteenth century is not surprising. A Croatian community exsisted in Udine from the fifteenth century, and likewise in Rome, Fermo, Loreto, Bologna and Venice. In each community we also find the musicians, with names ‘da Zara’ (from Zadar), ‘Schiavone (Dalmatian), and so on. Sagabria is the earliest north-Croatian musician from whom we have extant lute tabulatures.
Sagabria is a new name in the history of the Croatian musical culture, but has now been further discussed in new research on the arts in the renaissance by the historian the late Lelja Dobronić. Knowledge of his career obliges us to reasses the view that the lute was characteristic only of south Croatian life.
Today, the medieval, renaissance and baroque lute, and the theorbo have found their place in the music academies of many countries. Audiences, the number of available recording, and the the early music market generally have been growing in recent years, and early music now has an important place in the cultural life in Europe; early musicology is well developed, and at the same time a sense of historical and authentic music practise is continuing to progress. One may observe that the cultivation of the historical performance of early music testifies the condition of the culture of a nation.
In the omnipresent noise of contemporary life that makes our senses numb, the subtle sound of lute music enobles, and resensitises the ear, offers an oasis of peace, and represent a cultural model for a greater European togetherness and identification.
Antun Mrzlečki, a Franciscan Capuchin monk, lived many years in the Federal Republic of Germany. He studied guitar as his principal study at Augsburg Conservatory (1974-78). In addition to fulfilling his monastic obligations, he plays a thirteen-course baroque lute. In collaboration with friends, lutenists and lute makers, he is engaged in the popularisation of the lute in Croatia. Moreover, he publishes articles, translates professional literature, and organises occasional radio broadcasts dedicated to the lute, as well as lute concerts at Varaždin Baroque Evenings in Croatia (Varaždin Baroque Festival) and his own concerts.
I would like to thank Dr Tihomir Živić of Osijek, Croatia (affiliated with the San Francisco State University) visiting researcher at the University of California, Berkley and Stanford, (2000-2001), for reading and commenting on this paper.
Translated by Tiziana Sbisa
The article is published in magazine “The Lute”, The Journal of the Lute Society, Volume 46, 2006.
 Lovro Županović, Spomenici hrvatske glazbene prošlosti – Hrvatski skladatelji XVI. stoljeća Bosanac, Motovunjanin, Patricij, Skjavetić – [Croatian Composers of the 16th century – Bosanac, Motovunjanin, Patricij, Skjavetić], Udruženje kompozitora Hrvatske (1970).
 Ennio Stipčević, Hrvatska glazba [Croatian Music], (Školska knjiga, Zagreb, 1997), p. 13.
 Stanislav Tuksar, Hrvatska glazbena terminologija u razdoblju baroka [Croatian Musical terminology in the Barock Period], Hrvatsko muzikološko društvo [Croatian Musicological Society] (Zagreb, 1992), pp. 293-4.
 Ibid., p. 294
 Miho Demović, Glazba i glazbenici u Dubrovačkoj Republici od početka XI. do polovine XVII. stoljeća, [Music and Musicians in the Ragusan Republic from the Beginning of the Eleventh to the Mid Seventeenth Century), JAZU, Razred za muzičku umjetnost, Zagreb (1981), pp. 90 and 235:
Die 26 Martii 1423. (Consilium Minus 3, 56’) Captum fuit de porta(n)do ad Maius C(o)nslium de dando ma(gist)ro Georgio sonatori de liuto et arpa domum Co(mmun)is quam tenebat Bernardus bakistarius v(ideli)z(et) a pa(rt)e sup(eri)ori servata statione d(ic)te domus. (In margine) P(ro) Georgio sonatore.
 Miho Demović, op. cit., pp. 90 and 325:
Die 18 Augusti 1423. (Consilium Minus 3, 85) Captum fuit de facien(do) grat(iam) magistro Ge(o)rgio ab arpa q(uod) p(ro) aliquibus suis agendis ire possit Venetias p(er) duos me(n)ses p(ro)x(ime) fut(uros) ip(s)so tamen Ragusiam revertente in d(ic)to termine et menente sibi firma domo quam ha(be)t a Co(mmun)i prout nunc est. (In margine) P(ro) ma(gist)ro Georgio ab arpa.
 Stanislav Tuksar, op. cit., p. 294.
 Miho Demović, pp. 90 and 235:
Die 4 Octobris 1503. (Lamenta de intus 67, 18’) Marchus Stagnevich Loiar c(oram) d(omnibus) jud(icibus) fecit lamentum contra Vicentium filium bastardum Nicole Possarevich et c(on)tra Radgona Stipanovich dictum P(re)sliza dicens q(uod) heri….fecit impetum contra eum cum uno bastone…Testes: Pethar Textor lautar, Mighelco Ciganus lautarius.
 Stanislav Tuksar, p. 295. This and the following poem have kindly been translated by Dr Tihomir Živić.
 Stanislav Tuksar, op. cit., p. 262.
 Ennio Stipčević, Hrvatska glazba [Croatian Music], Školska knjiga (Zagreb, 1997), p. 59.
 Ennio Stipčević, Etide za lijevu ruku [Etudes for the Left Hand], Znanje, (Zagreb, 2000), p. 53.
 Ennio Stipčević, Etide, p. 102.
 Ennio Stipčević, Etide, pp. 13 and 73.
 Stanislav Tuksar, op. cit., p. 298.
 Lovro Županović – E. Stipčević, Hrvatska glazba [Croatian Music], Školska knjiga (Zagreb, 1997), pp. 54-55.
 Benvenuto Dissertori, Le frottole per canto e liuto intabulate da F. B. ( Milano, 1964).
 Lovro Županović, ibid.
 Lovro Županović, ibid.