The Ljubljana Town Musicians


  • Andrej Rijavec



The term »town musicians« is here used to cover the so-called town pipers (Stadtpfeifer, Stadtturner) as well as the town fiddlers (Stadtgeiger), as distinct from the provincial musicians, known as provincial trumpeters (Landschaftliche Trompeter). The town pipers, who had developed from the mediaeval travelling musicians, are mentioned in the Ljubljana archives in the late 1520's and 30's. However, only in 1544 do we have evidence of a permanent organized body of four musicians. The duties of the pipers were various; they stood guard on a special tower of Ljubljana castle, sounded their instruments at certain hours, greeted with music secular and church dignitaries when these visited Ljubljana, took part in church music and in different town celebrations and taught instruments to the children of the wealthier burghers and aristocrats. In short, they were necessary and useful everywhere, for without them no performance, public or private, religious or secular, could take place. The master was usually the one who played the cornet, whereas his assistants played trombones. Individual members played other instruments as well----trumpets, Krummhorns, shawms, recorders, virginals as well as various string instruments. They reached the first peak of their development in the 16th century, during the Protestant era. The names of the pipers mostly reveal their German origin, understandable enough, since Protestantism had its roots in Germany, so that to spread and consolidate the new religion, German musicians came to Slovenia. With the victory of the Counter-Reformation at the beginning of the 17tn century the local element is more and more in evidence and in the 18tn century comes to prevail. Apart from the pipers, a contribution to the development of instrumental music in Ljubljana was made by the town fiddlers, first mentioned in the archives in 1571. They belonged to the lower levels of town society and apart from their regular employment they engaged in other music-making, for which, of course, they were paid separately. But for a few exceptions, they were unable to achieve any high quality of performance. However, in part-time playing, which represented an important additional source of income for the never very well paid town pipers, they were unwelcome rivals of the latter. Their quarrels went so far that the town council was obliged in 1712 to issue special regulations which minutely defined their duties and mutual relations. With the establishment of the Academia Philharmonicorum (1701) the town pipers decreased in importance, though they still remained active. Because of the fiscal and administrative reforms of Maria Theresa the town was obliged to cut its expenses. The town was thus compelled in 1754 to dismiss the town pipers, among other employees. Without any direction from above as was the case with provincial trumpeters, the institution of town pipers ceased to exist. Similar retarding circumstances to those operating on the Academia Philharmonicorum, which were a sign of general social development, brought the institution of town musicians to an end. The latter had for some decades been losing their importance; the efflorescence of the Baroque in music had left them behind. Musical performance demanded better qualified exponents, and the pipers were no longier suitable. Time had overtaken them.


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1. 12. 1966




How to Cite

Rijavec, A. (1966). The Ljubljana Town Musicians. Musicological Annual, 2(1), 37-51.