Review by: Parobek Ginny, Slovakia SH&FSI - April 1, 2009
Slovak Songs in Latin, Slovak, English
with 170 Music Scores and 93 illustrations
General Editor: Ladislaus Bolchazy
218pp c. 2008 $39.00 ISBN 978-0-86516-567-0
There is an intriguing saga behind this songbook, replete with scenes of smuggling and hiding of manuscripts. During the preface to Slovak Songs, publisher Dr, Ladislaus Bolchazy tells the reader how a Salesian priest, Bystrík Muransk? (born near Pezinok), devised Latin lyrics to accompany Slovak folk song scores. This being circa 1930-1940 during the communist era, it was a dangerous enterprise since such "nationalistic" activities were frowned upon.
In 1963, Bystrík gave this manuscript of 120 tunes to Dr. Milan Durica, (a prolific author on Slovak topics) for safekeeping. Before leaving Slovakia for self-exile to Italy, Dr. Durica smuggled the manuscript out of the country with him.
Fast forward to 2002 when Dr. Bolchazy visited Dr. Durica at his home in Bratislava. After viewing the manuscript for the first time, Dr. Bolchazy had a vision for this treasure trove of 120 patriotic, religious and folk songs (50 more scores were found at a later time). He contacted the appropriate authorities to replicate this work into printable form suitable for publishing, hence this song-book published to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Bystrík's birth in 1907.
Divided in four parts, this wealth of Slovak music represents patriotic, koledy (Christmas carols), folk songs and miscellaneous songs. Song titles are printed in Latin, Slovak and English, often with biographical author information. The collection represents the melting pot of peoples that came to the geographical area now known as Slovakia; witness the Eastern, Western, Roman, Magyar and Christian influences.
There are 93 illustrations throughout the songbook and even they warrant their
own index. All originated from the pen of Jozef Cincik; nearly every other page features one of his charming folk motifs.
The collection opens logically enough with "Nad Tatrou sa bl?ska," the Slovak national anthem. Other patriotic hymns include "Hej, Slováci"; "Slovencina moja"; and "Slovenské mamicky" among others. "Cas radosti" is just one number in the koledy (Christmas carol) selections. "Dobr? pastier sa narodil" and "Do mesta Betlema" are among others. Traditional l'udove piesne (folk songs) include "Láska, Bo?e, Láska"; "A ja taká cárna"; "Tam okolo Lovoci" and "Tancuj, tancuj".
This trilingual goldmine of music is housed in a large hardback volume; perhaps a ringed binder format would have been more practical for usc. Unfortunately the epilogue to Slovak Songs is translated only into Latin and Slovak, but the bibliography is a unique introduction to Slovak music and traditional song.
- Ginny Parobek