Kutna Hora's Musical Manuscripts of 15. and 16. Centuries

Kutna Hora’s Gradual - Vienna

well know entrace page
This source is deposited in the National Library in Vienna. It is very likely the most famous manuscript to have its origin in Kutna Hora. The reproduction of its front page with the portrayal of mining in Kutna Hora cannot be missing in any publication about the city.

The gradual originated in the workshop of illuminator Matouš as well as Smisek’s Gradual. It was made around the year 1490 probably a bit earlier or partly contemporaneously with it. It represents a new generation of excellent book illuminations of the late Gothic. There is an apparent connection to Kutna Hora’s Antifonary of Valentine, from which he copied the medallions, for exemple. Besides Valentine, one of Valentine’s apprentices has probably participated in the work. Artistic aspects of this gradual have been subjected to in-depth examination [11, 19, 20, 21]. The source represents a unique collection of mining iconography.

miner's regale
The front page picks up the threads of Valentine’s front page. It contains a pictorial description of the whole technology of ore mining including transportation to the surface and the sale under the supervision of a royal official. In contrast to Valentine, this source proves a familiarity of a miner’s life and a sense for both detail and humour. The wide windows show the surrounding land. (It is a matter of discussion whether the scenery is illusory or an attempt to depict the south-west vicinity of Kutna Hora with the church of Holy Trinity and the churches in Roveň and Pněvice.)

It is an Utraquist gradual. The hint of it can be found in the depiction of the evangelists standing around a chalice with the inscription „hoc facite in meam memoriam“ (This do in remembrance of me). There are theories, that it was ordered as a gift for king Władysław Jagiełło [11]. (Tha gradual finds 2 monograms with a W and a smaller L across it, which suggests that it might have been dedicated to Władysław Jagiełło. However, the king had not bee born before 1506, long after the completion of the gradual . There is no reason for adding the initials later [21].) Others assume that the gradual was ordered by a community of miners for St. James‘ Church. This assumption is supported by depiction of the church in the initial on folio 116b. In that time it was the cathedral church of the Utraquist church (the bishop resided here) and the gradual may have been designed for the episcopal service [23].

Marie with child and virgin with unicorn

The image of St. Jacob church

Today's semblace of the church
The chorals are written in rhombic notation and partly in black mensural notation.
Polyphonic compositions are only represented by two songs: „Patrem“ (Credo) in black mensural notation on four lines. These compositions used to be very widespread in different variations in that time. The other composition has a character of a two-voice motet.
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