Trnava is known within Slovakia as Little Rome. But why not call it Town of Music?
Music, as a matter of fact, had always belonged to numerous churches and the Church centre which Trnava had been the seat of. No wonder that thanks to countless music associations, choirs, chamber orchestras and numerous music festivals, Trnava is proudly regarded as a town with a very rich and one of the oldest music cultures in Slovakia.
The foundation stone of “Trnava Music Spring” is the aforementioned music tradition, the connection between Mikuláš Schneider-Trnavský and the town, as well as the strong will to bring music to its citizens. Therefore, the festival is titled as the oldest and most significant classical music festival of Trnava. Its fundamental pillars are quality music performed by talented artists and the emphasis on tradition. Now let’s have a look at the whole story of “Trnava Music Spring”.
It was the year 1969 in the former Czechoslovakia when despite a politically unstable situation, an international festival of classical music was founded. Its name was “Music Spring of Mikuláš Schneider-Trnavský”…
This title was a way of expressing honour to the great composer coming from Trnava. The festival’s organizing committee consisted of important personas of the cultural as well as the political scene, as it used to be back then. During the first years, the head of the committee was Anna Valová and from the honorary members let’s mention Oto Ferenczy and another important composer of those times, creator of the first Slovak National Opera, Eugen Suchoň.
Already from the very first years, the festival had an international nature. Apart from Slovak artists, concerts were performed by artists from Romania, Germany, the Czech Republic, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Russia, Armenia, Poland and the Netherlands.
Even professor Alexander Moyzes, the renowned Slovak composer and pedagogue, noticed and publicly appreciated the festival’s reconnection with the music tradition in Trnava during its second year. Another important point in the festival’s chronicle was the founding of the International Singing Competition of Mikuláš Schneider-Trnavský. Its main aim was to discover young talents. Many important artists such as Peter Dvorský and Miroslav Dvorský began their careers thanks to this competition.
After the fall of communism the festival faced new opportunities as well as challenges. On one side, concerts could have been organised in sacred venues, but on the other side, the qualitative level of organisation and dramaturgy began to decrease. The turning point came in 2013 when the Bach Society in Slovakia started to co-organise the festival together with the City Council. The same year also represented the effort to modify the format of the festival by concentrating all the concerts into the “Marianum”hall. This change was also inserted into the altered festival’s name “Concert Cycle Marianum”. The aim of all these changes was to create a sort of Trnava Philharmonic Hall in the “Marianum” which would be at the same time the centre for the music community in Trnava. However, in order to keep the diversity and quality of the festival, it was decided to retain the previous name and format. This way the festival was done anew in the numerous acoustically and artistically unique venues of Trnava as it had been in the previous 50 years of its existence.
Thanks to such decisions, visitors can nowadays enjoy concerts in a wide variety of venues, each of them being the right fit for a different kind of music.
For example, sacred music is usually performed in St. Nicholas Basilica or St. Jacob Church, piano recitals take place in the “Marianum” or theatre and the chamber concerts are played in the Synagogue. The particular acoustics and atmosphere of each of these places create remarkable experiences. In the future, the festival plans to collaborate with the Západoslovenské múzeum or to have some concerts outdoors.
A new history of the festival is already being written but the previous one, with its long list of artists and performers it introduced, is admittedly amazing. Just to name a few of them, the list includes the Slovak Philharmonic, the Moscow Philharmonic, the Belgrade Philharmonic, the Chamber Orchestra of Bohdan Warchal, Musica aeterna, Solamente naturali, Slovenský komorný zbor SĽUK-u and the Sheffield Cathedral Choir. From the soloists, let’s mention names like Svjatoslav Richter, Eugen Indjic, David Oistrach, Stephen Stubbs, Eva Blahová, Dalibor Karvay, Peter Michalica or David di Fiore.
Resources are gathered from the diploma thesis of Elena Cibulková (Trnava Music Spring – International Festival of classical Music, Ružomberok, 2017) and from the bulletins of Trnava Music Spring.