Cantata in honorem Almae Matris Universitatis Iagellonicae
Composed to mark the 600th anniversary of an honourable academic institution - the Jagiellonian University, the Cantata did offer some surprises. One of these was the very choice and use of the text: Almae Matris Universitatis Iagellonicae in honorem ob eius sesentisimum annum maxima con devotione – just one sentence, as laconic as it was literal, definitely avoiding any deeper symbolic connotations. The anniversary occasioned a musical response that appeared to contradict the splendour, solemnity and deadly seriousness typical of Cracow’s jubilee celebrations. The music rather seemed to echo Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński’s satirical couplets: “Seriousness in every word / A twitching brow the joke betrays / Here in Cracow we can all / Make fun with a straight face.” Admittedly, the initial roll of a bass drum and the fanfare of brass do introduce a mood proper for the occasion, as does the choir part, rich in sonoristic effects, but after the last chord has sounded and the audience feels the piece is now complete, suddenly there comes one more, single stroke on the kettle-drum. The composer himself emphasised this humorous element by calling his work a cantata “mit dem Paukenschlag” (“with a stroke on the kettle-drum”). Just like Haydn, who woke up his convention-weary audience with a similar thump in his Symphony in G Major.