The wonderful antiphonary Co.20 is one of the oldest sources for the tradition of choir singing in Holy Cross. It was made under Abbot Wernher (1203 – 1228) at the abbey. There are also some sheets with music bound together with old manuscripts.
Dating from 1578 we have the first proof for the existence of an organ in the abbey. Singing and music were much cherished, so the first school of music was founded at the beginning of the 17th century. During the Second Siege of Vienna by the Turks (1683) lots of scores and musical instruments were destroyed. However, we still have got one lute made by Georg Epp in 1631, which survived the chaos of history. In the times of Baroque not only choral singing, but also the splendor of Baroque music in general were cultivated. From the evidence in the archives for music and the musical tradition of our abbey we can learn a lot about many aspects of monastic life. This means about the cultivation of liturgy in the course of the day and the celebration of sacral and profane festivities. We must also consider the necessity of representation, which the relations to other monasteries and the courts of the sovereigns brought along. Polyphonic music was important because of a school theatre and the boarding school for the choir-boys. The cultivation of the fine arts at the abbey created contacts to artists´ groups all over the country.
We find the music of great composers of Holy Cross such as P.Alberich Mazak Ocist (1609 – 1661) and P.Clemens Scheupflug Ocist (1731 – 1805) in various archives. Unfortunately none of the music by Mazak has been preserved in our abbey. However, scores by important composers e.g. Johann Georg Albrechtsberger (1736 – 1809) and Georg Reutter d.J. (1708 – 17772) can be found in our archives. In the 19th century the monks acquired lots of music for various instruments, e.g. the flute, string quartets and other orchestration by Leonhard von Call /1768 – 1815), Franz Hoffmeister (1754 – 18129 and Ignaz Pleyel (1754 – 1832)- for cultivating the art of music at the abbey.
An outstanding example for acquisitions of 20th century music is the heritage of Ferdinand Rebay (1880 – 1954), a former choirboy at Holy Cross. Later he was a choir-master of the Schubert Union in Vienna and in 1920 he became a professor at the Music Academy in Vienna.
Thus our archives contain originals by various composers from the early Baroque days to our time. More and more musicians all over the world are getting interested in the traditional scores of our collection.
The card-index (written by hand) offers a fine survey of the scores available. As early as the 1970ties a part of these was listed in the RISM catalogue and made available to the public interested in music. (link concerning Heiligenkreuz A-HE). The project of listing our important music treasures in the international register of sources of music ( Repertoire International des Sources Musicales) is being continued. Information concerning medieval music manuscripts: DIAMM
The CD VESPERAE Baroque vespers at Stift Heiligenkreuz originated by cooperation of „dolce resonanza“ (a group with a special interest in Baroque music played on original instruments) and the monks of the Abbey of Heiligenkreuz, celebrating the 350th anniversary of the composer`s death: P.Alberich Mazak Ocist (1609 – 1661) was a conductor and choir-master of the abbey.
To order the CD :
Alois Niemetz, 800 Jahre Musikpflege in Heiligenkreuz, Heiligenkreuz 1977.