Bartłomiej Pękiel} (fl. from 1633; d. ca. 1670) was a notable Polish composer of classical music.
BiographyPękiel served the court in Warsaw from at least 1633. He was the assistant to Marco Scacchi when the latter was head of the Royal Chapel there, and later was Kapellmeister himself from 1649 to 1655. He then moved to Wawel Cathedral Chapel in Kraków, where he led the orchestra after the death of Franciszek Lilius in 1657.
Bartłomiej Gembicki writes:
Bartłomiej Pękiel was a Polish composer about which, unfortunately, still little is known. His date of birth or death is unknown. In addition, his Polish origin is sometimes called into question. One of the leading 18th-century music lexicographers, Johann Mattheson, claimed that the composer was German and his name was often recorded in the German-sounding form of "Peckel". It is known that he was active in the Republic of Poland from 1637-1664.
Perhaps at the beginning of the 1630s, Pękiel belonged to the royal band of Władysław IV Vasa, working there as the organist and deputy of Marco Scacchi - the then Kapellmeister. When he ceased his activity in Poland in 1649, Pękiel was probably the head of the royal team and the first non-Italian in this position. His career did not last long, however, due to the suspension of the band's activity in 1655, caused by the Swedish invasion of Poland known as the Deluge (history).
Pękiel and other members of the court avoided active participation in warfare. A three-year journey with the court of Jan Kazimierz's wife may have resulted in the composer's visit to Vienna - one of the most important music centers of the time, for decades fed by northern Italian artists.
In 1658, Pękiel once again received the honorable function of maestro di cappella but this time in Kraków, in the Wawel cathedral. After the death of Franciszek Lilius, he took the post of a bandmaster of a vocal and instrumental ensemble. This time his managerial career did not last too long, probably only until 1664 - after this date news about Pękiel becomes scarce (although the next Kapellmeister was chosen only about 6 years later).
The two main stages of the composer's activity - Warsaw and Kraków - can be roughly divided into works maintained in a style reminiscent of the renaissance polyphony (Prima pratica) and early baroque vocal and vocal-instrumental concerts (Seconda pratica). Importantly, Stile antico became the main language of the musical statement of Pękiel after his move to Wawel. This was not related to the conservatism of the composer, but rather to the specificity of the Kraków cathedral, where a still functioning group of [http://www.katedra-wawelska.pl/en/muzyka-na-wawelu/historia/ rorantists] cultivated the performance of a cappella polyphony.
The preserved musical output of Pękiel covers 29 works, almost exclusively manuscripts (three of his instrumental canons were published with the works of Scacchi). His works maintained in the prima pratica trend consist of mass cycles, motets and madrigals sometimes with the accompaniment of the basso continuo line. The composer's progress in the art of counterpoint helped him to be considered the most outstanding Polish polyphonist of the first half of the 17th century. Pękiel based some of his works on the melodic material of songs performed in Polish churches (including carols), his Missa paschalis quotes from Easter songs.
Pękiel also became famous as the creator of the only Polish religious dialogue, [http://muzykotekaszkolna.pl/kanon/bartlomiej-pekiel-audite-mortales/ Audite mortales] (Hear, mortals). The work focuses on the subject of the final judgment, and its heroes are Christ, Angel and Sinners. Almost in every respect, the work resembles early-baroque oratorio compositions (with a Counter-Reformation coloration), written by Roman composers. No wonder, then, that one of the copyists mistook the dialogue for the work of Giacomo Carissimi - one of the most important representatives of this genre. This mistake can in principle be perceived as a compliment to which Bartłomiej Pękiel fully deserves.