Post-Tridentine latin liturgical chant in Hungary


  • After restricted beginnings, the first systematic, scholarly attempt began in 2008 to examine the last, declining period of Gregorian chant of Hungary. The task of fitting the work into the Department’s thematic framework has fallen mainly on Gabriella Gilányi.
  • The main aim was to gather and explore the sources and analyse them in scholarly fashion. Basic research in some eight libraries and church collections in Hungary and abroad yielded several dozen notated sources, which were subjected to musical examination. Detailed descriptions of these were prepared.
  • During the examination, large numbers of melodies were transcribed onto over a hundred cover sheets, to allow variants to be compared and analysed. 
  • Thematically the research became largely bipolar. Attention focused on (1) Hungary’s reception of the new post-Tridentine musical style and chant from Rome, and (2) survivals from medieval plainchant melodies.
  • Remarkably rich source materials were found in the tradition of the Pauline Order, a Hungarian foundation. This enabled thorough examination and reconstruction of monodic Pauline singing practice of the 17th–18th centuries.


Antiphonarium romanum      Palos graduale cimlap resize      Palos graduale f7 resize


Further details

The decline of medieval plainchant practice in Hungary and the reception of the new post-Tridentine cantus romanus style are two of the least explored fields of Hungarian research in music history. Fortunately, it has been possible recently to find and collect sizeable, varied source materials for these repertories, and based on these, reconstruct, describe and analyse the Latin, monodic, liturgical singing practice of the period. 

Examination of such practice marks a fringe area among the research fields of the Early Music Department. It involves not only examining the plainchant melodies of the late Middle Ages, but pursuing a comprehensive approach that includes analysing monodic music alien to Hungarian plainchamt style: 17th‒18th-century Roman chant composed and metricized in line with the fashion of a humanist aesthetic period. This is the cantus romanus that spread to Hungary from Italian liturgical choir books printed without papal approval after the liturgical Romanization of 1630 under Archbishop Péter Pázmány. Through its unified printed books, this compact, monodic chant repertory was still readily obtainable in the 18th century for daily liturgies, where opportunity for music had otherwise dwindled.

Gregorian chant in Hungary had the strongest chance of surviving the Council of Trent in the musical tradition of the Pauline Order, which had been founded in Hungary. So research was focused on that. With the Paulines, early introduction of the Roman rite in the 1600s did not bring full stylistic Romanization of their liturgical music. Historical and musical data of the 17th‒18th centuries suggest the order continued to sing the medieval Esztergom melodic versions to the liturgical texts introduced by the Reform of Trent. Nor did such retention of musical tradition leave it static down the centuries; the process of change in musical style can be followed. Comparative musical examinations display dynamics of style development, and reveal and identify various layers of post-Tridentine Pauline “Gregorian”, the traditional and modern traits in it, and its geographical and chronological variations. This expands understanding of the post-medieval phenomena that retain an affiliation to Hungarian péainchant tradition, but render it brighter and more colourful.

Publications on the subject by Department staff:

Szendrei, Janka. „Der Ritus tridentinus und die paulinische Tradition im Ungarn des 17. Jahrhunderts: Kompromiß, Kontrafaktur, Modifikation“. In: The Past in the Present. Papers Read at the IMS Intercongressional Symposium and the 10th Meeting of the Cantus Planus, Budapest and Visegrád, 2000, ed. László Dobszay. Budapest: Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music, 2003, 329–52.

Idem. Graduale Romanum ad usum monasterii Paulinorum de Újhely (1623). Musicalia Danubiana 24. Budapest: MTA Zenetudományi Intézet, 2010.

Gilányi, Gabriella. “Against Change? Later Corrections to Responsory Melodies in the Franciscan Antiphoner, H-Bu Cod. Lat. 118, 119, 121, 122”. In: Dies est leticie. Essays on Chant in Honour of Janka Szendrei, ed. David Hiley and Gábor Kiss. Ottawa: Institute of Medieval Music, 2008, 243­–55.

Idem. “The Reception of Post-Tridentine Cantus Romanus in 17th and 18th Century Hungary”. Studia Musicologica 50, (2009/3–4): 301–14.

Idem. „17–18. századi kottás liturgikus könyvek az Esztergomi Hittudományi Főiskola Könyvtárában” (17th‒18th-century notated liturgical books in the Library of Esztergom Theological College). Magyar Sion 3 (2009/2): 250–60.

Idem. „Zenei archaizmusok és neologizmusok a 18. századi pálos zsolozsmában” (Musical archaisms and neologisms in the 18th-century Pauline office).  In: Zenetudományi Dolgozatok 2009, ed. Gábor Kiss. Budapest: MTA Zenetudományi Intézete, 2010, 69–96.

Idem. “Retrospective or not? Pauline introits in 18th-century Hungary”. In: Der Paulinerorden: Geschichte, Geist, Kultur. Extraordinary conference II/2 of the Arts History Workshop, ed. Gábor Sarbak. Budapest: Szent István Társulat, 2010, 503–10.

Idem. „Horvát variáns, magyar variáns? XVIII. századi pálos dallamaink új források fényében” (Croatian variant? Hungarian variant? 18th-century Pauline melodies in the light of new source materials). In: Hagyomány és megújulás a liturgiában és zenéjében, A Liszt Ferenc Zeneművészeti Egyetem Egyházzene Tanszéke újraindításának 20. évfordulóján tartott szimpózium előadásai (Tradition and renewal in liturgy and its music. Lectures at the symposium for the 20th anniversary of the revived Church Music Faculty at the Academy of Music). Budapest: Liszt Ferenc Zeneművészeti Egyetem Egyházzenei Tanszéke; Magyar Egyházzenei Társaság, 2012.

Idem. „A hiányzó láncszem? Egy 1687-es pálos antifonále Crikvenicából” (Missing link? A Pauline antiphoner of 1687 from Crikvenica). Magyar Zene 52  (2014/1): 5–15.

Idem. „Középkori kottás töredékek újrafelfedezése a Központi Papnevelő Intézet Pálos Könyvtárában” (Rediscovery of medieval notation fragments in the Pauline Library of the Central Seminary)/ In: Zenetudományi Dolgozatok 1978–2012, ed. Gábor Kiss. Budapest: MTA‒BTK Zenetudományi Intézet, 2014, 389–94.

Kiss, Gábor. „Tridentinum előtt és után. A magyarországi pálosok ordinárium-hagyománya” (Before and after Trent. Ordinary tradition in Hungary’s Paulines). In: Zenetudományi Dolgozatok 2009, ed. Gábor Kiss. Budapest: MTA Zenetudományi Intézete, 2010, 97–133.

Idem. “The Mass Ordinary Formulas of the 18th century Hungarian and Croatian  Pauline Provinces”. In: Cantare amantis est. Festschrift zum 60. Geburtstag  von Franz Karl Praßl, ed. Robert Klugseder. Purkersdorf: Verlag Brüder Hollinek, 2014, 172–87.}