Bartlomiej Pekiel


About Bartlomiej Pekiel

According to Johann Mattheson, Polish composer Bartlomiej Pekiel was born German, but his known career played itself out in Poland in its entirety. Earliest mention of Pekiel comes from 1633 when he enters the service of the Warsaw-based court of King Wladyslaw IV Vasa, as a sacred musician working with Marco Scacchi, a composer who supplied the King's court with opera and other kinds of secular music. Pekiel also took over the other duties when Scacchi returned to Italy owing to health concerns in 1649, but was not elevated to sole music director until 1653. Pekiel would not enjoy the position long, as in 1655 the Swedes swept Wladyslaw IV Vasa's successor, King John II Casimir, off the throne in the conflict now known as "The Deluge." Pekiel managed to land on his feet in Krakow, as in 1658 he was named to the post of kapellmeister at Wawel Cathedral. While direct evidence of his death has not been substantiated, Pekiel must have died around 1670, as his successor is named in cathedral records around that time.
Bartlomiej Pekiel was the foremost Polish composer of his day, and though his work belongs historically to the middle Baroque, stylistically it is a holdover from the Italian renaissance of the previous century. So technically assured is Pekiel within this style that a tour of study in Italy is likely, even though he is not known to have traveled there; perhaps it occurred before first mention of him is found in 1633, and it is also possible that Pekiel was a little older than his suggested birthdate of "ca. 1610" might convey. Whereas his Polish contemporaries are known by mere handfuls of pieces, Pekiel is represented to posterity through 14 settings of the mass, 17 motets, and about 42 instrumental pieces, though the authenticity of the latter has been a matter of debate. A scholarly edition of Pekiel's work was published in 1996 by Monumenta Musicae in Polonia, though certain works -- such as the Missa pulcherrima ad instar Praenestini -- have been available in modern editions going back into the 1930s.