Winner of 2001 Wilk Essay Prize for Research in Polish Music (Student Category ex aequo)

by Katarzyna Grochowska


This article (awarded the 2001 Wilk Prize in the Student Category, ex aequo with Dobrzanski) takes up the task of explaining the route by which a Gdańsk singer, Constantia Czirenberg, became the dedicatee of Milanese publisher Filippo Lomazzo’s 1626 motet anthology, Flores Praestantissimorum virorum. The main tools used for this study are the 17th-century travel diaries and itineraries of Charles Ogier and Prince Władysław IV Waza, both friends and admirers of Czirenberg. While tracing the possible connections between Czirenberg, Lomazzo and Władysław IV Waza, the author concludes that it was the Polish prince who initiated Lomazzo’s dedication. This conclusion offers a new perspective on Władysław’s well-known music patronage, which this time took place outside the royal court.



In the beginning of the 17th century Milan and Gdańsk [Danzig] were each highly populated, large metropolises in their respective countries.[1] Although the cities shared similar political and demographic conditions, culturally they were profoundly different. Gdańsk, a Polish-German city highly infused with Scandinavian culture, was a center of Protestant activity. In contrast, Milan, ruled by a Spanish governor, was thcounter reformationon heart of Europe. Furthermore, the cities were separated by a great distance which was widely held to have precluded regular and enduring cultural connections. Indeed, in the domain of music, it was long believed that there was not single trace of sustained correspondence between Milanese and Gdańsk musicians. Thus, it is surprising to have found evidence to the contrary, and all the more difficult to explain its origin.

Figure 1: The title page of the motet anthology Flores praestantissimorum
compiled in 1626 by Filippo Lomazzo. Courtesy of the Sibley Music Library, Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester.

In 1626 the Milanese publisher Filippo Lomazzo compiled and published an anthology entitled Flores praestantissimorum virorum a Philippo LomatioBibliopola delibati.[2] The anthology consists of 36 pieces, mainly motets, written by composers active in Milan at that time. In addition to motets, however, the anthology also includes pieces such as Magnificat, and instrumental Canzonas. The music material of the anthology occupies 116 folios and is preceded by a page-long dedication to a singer, Constantia Czirenberg from the Polish city of Gdańsk. In the dedication Czirenberg is praised for her exceptional music skills, particularly for her singing which was recognized and admired by the most accomplished musicians and royalty of her time. According to the text, it was Czirenberg’s famed musicality that prompted the Milanese publisher Lomazzo to dedicate his anthology to the Gdańsk singer, thereby enlarging the circle of her admirers to include Milanese composers.[3]

Considering the great distance that separated Milan and Gdańsk, and the absence of other music-related connections between them, an explanation of how Czirenberg came to be the addressee of the Milan anthology seems worthy of investigation.[4] Did Czirenberg travel to Milan? Or Lomazzo to Gdańsk? Or did somebody else arrange for the anthology to be dedicated to Czirenberg? While answers to these questions would undoubtedly shed light on Czirenberg’s and Lomazzo’s lives, they would also help explain how connections were established between Milan and Gdańsk, and, in particular, between Italian and Polish musicians.

An examination of the surviving 17th century secondary sources suggest that neither Lomazzo nor Czirenberg traveled to the respective countries of Poland and Italy; in fact, they probably never met. Why then the dedication? This paper attempts to untangle the mystery of the Milanese dedication, and, in so doing, traces the lives of those who were responsible for it: Czirenbergs, Lomazzo . . . and the king of Poland and Sweden! A combination of 17th century personal journal diaries and historical facts allow one to piece together the chain of events that prompted Lomazzo’s dedication.

Figure 2: The verso of the title page with the coat of arms of the Czirenbergs’ family and two short poems dedicated to Constantia. Courtesy of the Sibley Music Library, Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester.


The title page of the Milanese anthology Flores praestantissimorum (see Figure 1) includes Czirenberg’s name (“…ad nobilissimam Constantiam Czirenbergiam Gedanensem…”) and a three-page introduction. On the verso of the title page, Czirenbergs’ coat of arms precedes two short poems, one by Laurentius Frissonus (an organist at Milanese Sanctae Mariae Secretae church), and one by Francisco Bamphi (see Figure 2).[5] The subsequent page provides a list of composers whose works are included in the anthology (see Figure 3). The list cites current positions held by the musicians, as well as their places of employment. Among the sixteen listed performers, can be found the names of the city’s most renowned musicians, such as Andrea Cima, Vincenzo Pellegrini, Ignazio Donati and brothers Giovanni Domenico and Francesco Rognoni. On the next page (see Figure 4), Lomazzo offers an extensive dedication to Czirenberg, the topic of this essay.

Figure 3: A list of Milanese composers who dedicated pieces to Constantia
Czirenberg. Courtesy of the Sibley Music Library, Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester.

According to the conventions of the day, Lomazzo’s dedication glorifies Czirenberg’s virtues. He compares her to a range of Greek figures and goddesses (Forma Helenam; moribus Penelopen (sic!); mente Palladem; voce, & pectore Dianam; cantu nouam in Parnasso Musam Calliopem), yet he seldom provides solid biographical facts. We learn from the dedication that Czirenberg was a nexus of all virtues (in qua Charites omnes sedem collocarint),[6] that she was gifted with a most learned hand (doctissima manus), most skillful fingers (scitissimi digiti ad sonum) and with the throat of a nightingale (guttur Lusciniae). Moreover, in addition to lavishing Czirenberg with praise, Lomazzo mentions two other persons that were in direct contact with Czirenberg: Johannes Czirenberg and the King of Poland. Johannes Czirenberg, Constantia Czirenberg’s father, held office as consul of Gdańsk, and was a royal burgrave (Burggrabis Regis et Consulis Reipublicae Gedanensis), and since in the year 1626 Constantia was twenty one years old and unmarried, Lomazzo’s mentioning of her father as a legal guardian seems natural.

In addition to Johannes Czirenberg, Lomazzo also mentions the King of Poland and Sweden (invictissimus Poloniae and Suetiae Rex), though he does not cite him by name. Normally, the omission of the king’s name would not obscure his identity; however, as I will argue below, Lomazzo was not referring to the then contemporary King of Poland, Zygmunt III Waza, but to his son and successor Władysław IV Waza.

Figure 4: The full text of the dedication to Constantia Czirenberg. Courtesy of the Sibley Music Library, Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester.


Constantia’s father, Johannes Czirenberg, (?1642) was famous enough, owing to his professional appointments, to be acknowledged in German encyclopedias.[7] Representing one of the more important patrician families in the city, he became a city consul in 1615, served several terms as major,[8] and was nominated to the post of a royal burgrave.[9] The titles and dates of Czirenberg’s appointments agree with the titles specified in Lomazzo’s dedication, which suggests that the Milanese publisher was well-informed about Czirenberg’s affairs. The biographical references to Johannes Czirenberg almost always include information about his daughter Constantia, but these references, even when taken together, are rather uninformative. To provide a complete picture of Constantia Czirenberg we must give our attention to sources more personal and informative than encyclopedias; we must give our attention to 17th century travel diaries.

Though once famed and venerated, the singer Constantia Czirenberg has remained unrecognized in contemporary musicology, and while her name may be found in biographical encyclopedias, neither German nor Polish music references mention her. [10] This neglect is doubtless due to the scant historical resources on the singer. Indeed, what little information we have regarding her exceptional musical skills seems to come from one source, namely a 17th century travel diary.[11] Charles Ogier, a member of a French legation, kept diaries during his stay in Poland that have become priceless sources of information about the cultural life in Gdańsk. Thanks to Ogier’s meticulous journals, we not only learn about Gdańsk’s parties, dances, and celebrations, but also about one of the city’s most famous talents – Constantia Czirenberg:[12]

The noble envoy visited Mayor Czirenberg; he listened to Constantia, his daughter who sang and played organ. She is the most beautiful woman in the whole city and although she is educated in all arts which embellish a woman, she is educated in music to the degree of miracle. She has an exceptionally beautiful voice and sings in the Italian style, because only this style is known in Poland and Germany.

Although Ogier does not note where Constantia learned music, or who her teachers were, his notes gives us some idea about her musical education:[13]

Our Varenne sang in her [Constatia’s] presents; she praised his modulations and manner of singing very highly and she admitted that she had never heard anybody singing in French. Nevertheless, she had the courage to sing a French song in our presence, which she sang, though, in her Italian manner. She asked Varenne to teach her and she sang together with him.”

Taught exclusively in the Italian manner, Czirenberg did not shrink from the challenges of a different style; on the contrary, she became the student of the aforementioned Varenne and apparently did not waste her time, for Ogier notes several weeks later, that “in order to move our souls deeply, Constantia sang in French beautifully.[14]

As Lomazzo mentions in his dedication, Czirenberg was not only gifted with the voice of a nightingale. She was also an accomplished organ player, and a proud owner of the organs installed in her house.[15] Ogier, a fervent devotee of Constantia’s musical skills, gave proof of his enthusiasm by enlarging Czirenberg’s organ repertory to include French pieces: “I went to incomparable Constantia, and I gave her melodies which were music I had received from France.”[16] Constantia returned Ogier’s favor, and played to him just before his departure to France: “She played on the organ the piece, which my sister had sent to her.”[17]

Czirenberg must have possessed a truly extraordinary personality, since the Milanese publisher Lomazzo was not the only one to make a dedication to her. Indeed, Czirenberg’s foremost admirer, Charles Ogier, not only mentions her frequently in his diary, but also dedicated a poem to her entitled Sireni Balthicae Constantiae Sirenbergiae. J. J. Moeresius, also a poet, composed a series of poems in Constantia’s honor. Finally, from Ogier we learn about a third poet. Ogier writes, “Naeran, who was in Gdańsk, and has now moved to Belgium, wrote in her [Constantia’s] honor the kindest of elegies. I have not read better ones in all of these Northern countries.”[18]

Short descriptions of Constantia Czirenberg, largely contained in Ogier’s diaries, not only enumerate her countless talents but also provide a few biographical details about her life.[19]In addition to the excellent musical education which Czirenberg undoubtedly received, she was not a bad painter, and she was fluent in six languages: German, Polish, French, Italian, Swedish, and Latin. Born in 1605 and raised in a Calvinist religious tradition, she married Zygmunt Kerschenstein in 1628, a Calvinist, and bore him three children, of which only one survived her. She died in Gdańsk in 1653.[20] Although every biographical entry on Constantia Czirenberg mentions the Milanese anthology Flores, none of them make explicit the manner in which she became the addressee of Lomazzo’s anthology, nor do they mention her traveling abroad. Indeed, a few indirect facts suggest that neither Constantia nor her father ever traveled to Milan.

Evidence for this conclusion is mainly found in Lomazzo’s dedication. First, the Milanese publisher never states that he personally encountered Constantia. In describing Czirenberg’s virtues, Lomazzo does not express his own impression of Constantia’s appearance or singing, but rather the general opinion passed down by her admirers. Second, the publisher phrases his dedication in a way that makes Constantia’s absence from Milan clear. He writes, “…predicat te fama , Lectissima Constantia, Nobilissima ortam Familia Czirenberg.” The key words in this passage – predico, -are (to say or mention) – clearly means that the fame of the Czirenberg family traveled to Milan by word of mouth.

The diaries of our chief eyewitness, Charles Ogier, indirectly confirm the opinion that the Czirenbergs never traveled to Milan. Ogier, a close friend of the Czirenbergs, kept abreast of important family events and even of the journeys of Constantia’s distant relatives. Yet he never once mentioned in his diaries that Constantia or her father was abroad. For a man as scrupulous as Ogier, about logging daily events in his diary, this would have been quite an omission.

Lomazzo’s anthology Flores praestantissimorum virorum was known to Ogier, and he wrote the following about it: “…When her [Constantia’s] fame reached Italy, an excellent Milanese musician deemed her to be worthy enough to dedicate to her a book entitled ‘Flowers of most noble men … plucked off by Fillipus Lomazzo.”[21] Ogier’s phrasing, and the key word in this passage — ‘pervenio, -ire’ (to arrive at or to reach) — clearly attest that the fame of Constantia had reached Milan, but Constantia herself had not. On the basis of these two accounts — Lomazzo’s and Ogier’s, it can be stated with a fair degree of certainty that Constantia Czirenberg never visited Milan. Did the Milanese publisher, Filippo Lomazzo, travel to Gdańsk and meet Czirenbergs there?


Filippo Lomazzo, one of the main Milanese publishers, seems to have been preoccupied with his printing business, especially between the years of 1612 and 1630, when he worked as an independent contractor.[22] Although Poland offered lucrative jobs to many Italians at the beginning of the 17th century, Lomazzo never seems to have taken advantage of this opportunity. Hence, it is highly unlikely that Lomazzo traveled to Poland altogether. There remains one final individual mentioned in the dedication that may have made the journey between Gdańsk and Milan, the King of Poland and Sweden. But before tracing the King’s international adventures, let us identify the monarch by name precisely. Lomazzo’s dedication depicts a short scene in which the young Constantia, without an embarrassment, sings in the presence of the King of Poland and Sweden, and other professionals and artists: “…cum praestantissimis quoque Invictissimi Poloniae & Suetiae Regis Canendi artificibus, & Magistris aulicis, […] admirantem concertare non erubueris.” In the year 1626, when Flores was published, the thrones of Poland and Sweden belonged to Zygmunt III Waza. His reign began in 1587, long before Constantia Czirenberg was born. It is not unreasonable, then, to suppose that the scene took place in the presence of Zygmunt. But Lomazzo’s choice of the adjective — “invictissimi” (invincible)– suggests that it is not Zygmunt who is spoken of in the dedication, but his son — Władysław IV Waza. A few years before Lomazzo had prepared his dedication, and after a series of unsuccessful campaigns led by several monarchies, Władysław finally defeated Europe’s greatest foe – the Ottoman Empire.[23] This victory earned Władysław the name ‘invincible,’ and the gratitude of the entire Christian world. The second reason, for which it seems reasonable to believe that Lomazzo is speaking in his dedication about Władysław, is the fact that Władysław visited Milan during his European travels in 1624.[24] Before Władysław went on his European journey, however, he had a chance to meet Constantia Czirenberg.


The acquaintance of Władysław IV Waza and Constantia Czirenberg is documented by Czirenberg’s friend, Charles Ogier. In his diary, dated February 7, 1636 Ogier describes the following sequence of events:[25]

“Mayor Czirenberg … Constantia’s father, ordered his messengers to call and bring me to the royal banquet. I sat down then at the royal table … The king [Władysław] sat on the one side of the table and at the head, according to his wish, sat only Constantia …. Through Constantia’s persuasion the king agreed to listen to the singing of our Varennes.”

The royal visit in Gdańsk, which Ogier eye-witnessed, was not Władysław’s first one. In fact, Władysław was a frequent guest in the Baltic city, having come to the city first as a young prince in 1623 and frequently as an adult because of political circumstances. After Poland and Sweden were united under the sway of a single king, Gdańsk suddenly became the central geographical destination of the new and enormous monarchy. Consequently, wealthy Gdańsk patricians had a chance to host Polish kings more often than any other citizens. Interestingly enough, the kings and their courts were not hosted in a royal palace, which Gdańsk lacked, but in patricians’ houses right in the heart of the city, thus causing more direct contacts between members of the royal court and Gdańsk patricians.Although, we do not have any documents that explicitly state when and where exactly Zygmunt III and Władysław IV met Constantia Czirenberg, it seems reasonable to suppose that the scene described by Lomazzo, in which Constantia boldly sang in the presence of the King of Poland and Sweden, took place in a Gdańsk patrician’s house during a royal visit in 1623. In that year, Constantia was 18 years old and very likely a central personage in the cultural life of Gdańsk. In that year, the royal court of Władysław was housed a few doors away from the Czirenbergs’ residence and the young monarch lodged there for over three weeks, taking part in all the entertainments the city had to offer.[26] It seems highly improbable, indeed downright implausible, that Constantia could somehow have avoided to meet the royal Polish entourage. Since the visit in 1623 was the only royal visit to Gdańsk before Władysław journey to Milan, it was also the only occasion on which Constantia could have sung in the presence of the King of Poland and Sweden before Lomazzo published his Flores.


A year after his visit to Gdańsk, the Polish prince Władysław went on his formative journey throughout Europe. Beginning in May of 1624, it lasted for an entire year. Władysław, who was passing from one city to another, and from court to court, was preceded by his reputation for delighting in music and theater. Each city wanted to satisfy the prince’s affection for the arts; hence, diverse events and festivities were prepared in his honor. Władysław listened to excellent singers, and attended theatrical spectacles and commedia dell’arte. Milan, which he visited in the middle of November 1624, honored the young prince with musical concerts prepared especially for his arrival. However, Władysław did not wait for the official invitations to take a part in Milan’s musical life. As his chronicler notes in the journey diary,[27] the Prince did not waste his time but constantly visited different churches in Milan “to listen to music.”[28]

The first church into which Władysław walked was the spiritual heart of Milan, the basilica of Saint Ambrose:

“nobody knew that the Prince was in Milan except the governor, so that the Prince could walk throughout the whole city safely… In the morning he went to the magnificent church of Saint Ambrose. He won the sacristans’ hearts, so that they showed him the relics, the body of Carlo Borromeo.”[29]

Apparently, the basilica made an impression on Władysław, for he began the next day (November 17th) in the same fashion: “In the morning a few of us went with the Prince to the Saint Ambrose church… [In the evening] the beatification of a Father Andrew took place at the Theatines’ church, the Prince was at the feast to listen to music.”[30]The Theatines’ church of S. Antonio where the beatification took place was not the most musically active site.[31] Apparently, the rare feast of beatification provided a reason for the Theatines to prepare more elaborate musical arrangements than usual. Since the diary says no more about it, we do not know exactly how elaborate and festive the music was. We know, however, with precision how highly the quality of music was at other locations that Władysław visited. On November 18 “The Prince listened to a nun singing at the church of Saint Bernard … After the dinner he attended Vespers at Saint Paul, where nuns sung in his honor. The beautiful voice of one of the nuns deserves special note.”[32]

The singer from S. Bernardo (or possibly S. Bernardino alle Monache) was not identified;[33] but the musical Vespers at S. Paolo Converso mentioned in the above account confirms a practice which caused many conflicts in Milanese monasteries:[34] the use of ducal musicians in services at the exterior churches of monasteries. The excellence of the music performed by Milanese nuns was known to the Polish gentry already a decade earlier. Jakub Sobieski while visiting Milan wrote in his diary about Donna Gratia:[35]

She had an ugly face and was not young, but she had a remarkable voice… my ears have never heard one higher and more beautiful. She could control that voice of hers, raise it or lower it in beautiful trills, such that people come to listen to it as something miraculous, and during feasts people nearly suffocate listening to the singing in this church. I heard her on the day of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary. She sang the whole Magnificat, alternating with [instrumental] music. But because the crowd of people was so great, I had to come long before Vespers to have a place.

Apparently on 19 November 1624 the city’s musicians decided to officially honor the Polish prince Władysław: “During the mass at the monastery of the Benedictine Fathers, the Prince listened to music prepared on different instruments.” The second chronicler adds: “…[Music] which the best Milanese musicians sang ‘in gratiam’ of the Prince.”[36] The Benedictines mentioned in the royal chronicles are most likely the male Cassinese Benedictines of S. Simpliciano. The post of organist at this time was occupied by a monk, Serafino Cantone, who very likely took part in these festivities.[37] It is rather difficult to tell who the rest of ‘best Milanese musicians’ were, especially as they are described in one case as preparing music on “different instruments,” in another as singing it. If we agree that both of these historical accounts are true, the contradiction between the diaries may simply be explained as two different accounts describing a collaboration of both instrumentalists and singers. While choosing the best musicians who participated in the event seems hazardous, it is rather safe to claim that Serafino Cantone played the organ at that particular event.The last day of his visit to Milan – November 20 – Władysław spent admiring sites that he had never seen:

“The Prince saw several other churches … In the afternoon he went privately to see the Prince’s palace and those gigantic ‘aulas’ which were built for the theater spectacles which Her Majesty the Queen of Spain, Margaret, wanted to see during her visits.”[38]

The ‘aulas’ of which the author of the royal diary speaks were built at the end of the previous century, in 1598, for the occasion of Margaret of Austria’s entrance to the city.[39]Apparently the splendor that surrounded this entrance outlived the queen herself (Margaret died in 1611). For twenty six years after the entrance was built, in 1624, the Polish prince was still able to see what remained of the splendonr of that historical event. It is also interesting that over 20 years later, in 1646, Władysław would himself take part in preparing the entrance for his own wife, Ludovica Maria Gonzaga, which would take place, nomen omen, in Gdańsk. The document that describes the entrance of the queen testifies that Władysław did everything to outshine all previous royal entrances, putting into service, among other things, a 40-member royal cappella under the direction of Marco Scacchi.[40]


Thanks to the travel diaries of Władysław, we know that the Prince was not only an idle spectator of musical events prepared for him but also played a major role in importing the achievements of Italian music into Poland, as well as in generally establishing a more stable connection between Italian and Polish musicians. Music was an important part of life at the Polish Wazas’ courts. Zygmunt III, who played quite competently on the clavichord and also sang,[41] conveyed to his son not only a love for music but also provided him musicians who would later form the core of a highly professional musical group.[42] Already in the course of his travels through Italy, Władysław was thinking about the future shape of his musical establishment, and the first steps he took in this direction were to hire several Italian musicians as members of the Polish royal cappella. The prince decided, first of all, to reinforce the Polish court with new vocalists, and he aimed for the most popular singer of that time in Italy, Adriana Basile-Baroni. But negotiations with the singer failed, and Adriana’s sister Margherita Cattanea was hired instead.[43]

Also during his Italian journey, Władysław engaged the castrato Baldasarre Ferri, who was considered one of the best European singers.[44] Ogier had an opportunity to hear and judge Ferri, and did not neglect to note this in his diary. Ogier, Dziennik podrozy, vol. 2, pp. 93, 109.[45] Władysław also began to establish musical connections that would develop under his patronage for the next thirty years. In 1638 he sent his secretary to Italy to engage new singers for his court, and did the same thing six years later by sending a musician, Casper Forster, from Gdańsk.[46]

Taking into consideration Władysław’s visit to Milan and his documented interest in establishing musical ties between Italy and Poland; the Prince’s acquaintance with Constantia Czirenberg; and the lack of evidence that Czirenberg herself traveled abroad, it seems reasonable to suppose that Władysław is behind Lomazzo’s dedication of the anthology to Czirenberg. It is likely that, having listened to the most accomplished Italian singers, Władysław did not hesitate to brag of his remarkable singer, Constantia Czirenberg. It is rather difficult to say whether or not Lomazzo heard these praises directly from Władysław himself, yet it seems probable that Czirenberg owes her fame in Milan to the Polish Prince, Władysław IV.


While the hypothesis that Władysław’s is behind Lomazzo’s dedication agrees with historical data, there are still several puzzling issues that need further investigation. There is, for example, an interesting question of whether the copy of the Milanese anthology ever reached Gdańsk. Gdańsk’s archives, which survived the Second World War almost intact, never included a copy of Flores. [47] It is also intriguing that Ogier, living in Gdańsk ten years after Lomazzo’s publication, never mentioned in his diaries Constantia singing Milanese pieces. As a close friend of the family, Ogier saw Constantia’s most precious treasures: her paintings, her musical instruments, her jewelry, and even her cross-stitching.[48] It seems reasonable to think that if Constantia had possessed a copy of Flores, she would undoubtedly have shown it to Ogier. From Ogier’s notes one gets the impression that Ogier heard about the dedication — perhaps from Constantia herself.

Another interesting issue arises from the presence of the Czirenbergs’ coat of arms in Lomazzo’s dedication. The question of where the publisher obtained the family’s emblem has several hypothetical answers. If we assume that Lomazzo received the emblem from Johannes Czirenberg, we suppose as well that Lomazzo and Czirenberg had established some sort of communication, maybe even a correspondence.

The fact that Constantia Czirenberg was a Calvinist raises another extremely absorbing problem. Milan was prominently a Catholic city in which the dominant religion was further reinforced in the beginning of the 17th century by bishops Carlo and Federico Borromeo. All composers who dedicated music to Czirenberg were Catholics, in some cases monks. It seems reasonable to think that the composers, or at least Lomazzo, knew about Czirenberg’s differing religious orientation: if the publisher possessed the Czirenbergs’ coat of arms, he also might have known that they were Calvinists. If this is true, Calvinism was not a decisive factor for Lomazzo when choosing the addressee of the anthology. Keeping in mind Czirenberg’s differing religious and liturgical tradition, it would be equally interesting to analyze the choice of texts arranged by Milanese composers. The analysis would also help to determine whether the Milanese motets were composed particularly for Constantia, or whether the anthology was compiled earlier and later dedicated to an appropriate candidate.


Although Władysław’s contribution to the origin of Lomazzo’s dedication is highly conditional, this hypothesis seems to be the most plausible possibility. Władysław was the only person among the three mentioned in the dedication, who traveled to both cities: Milan and Gdańsk. His documented ties with Constantia Czirenberg and very probable ones with Lomazzo appear to link the Milanese publisher and Gdańsk singer together. In addition, Władysław was a fervent organizer of music life at his court and never neglected an opportunity to import Italian musical culture into Poland. One of those opportunities was Lomazzo’s dedication which immortalized the 17th-century peripheral singer Costantia Czirenberg who apparently was not only a great local artists but also very likely the most talented singer within the territory of the Polish-Swedish monarchy. The above offered hypothesis also sheds new light on Władysław’s patronage outside the royal court, and suggests that, while his patronage at the royal court is fairly well known, his initiatives, support and interest in music life outside the royal court may be an unexplored side of Władysław’s artistic enterprises.

Figure 5: A poem written by Charles Ogier to honor Constantia Czirenberg.
From Charles Ogier, Dziennik podróży do Polski, 1635-1636. Gdański: Biblioteka Miejska i Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Nauki
i Sztuki, 1950. Used by permission.


[1]. Edmund Cieślak and Czesław Biernat, Dzieje Gdańska (Gdańsk: Wydawnictwo Morskie, 1969), p. 93. Robert L. Kendrick, The Sounds of Milan, 1580-1650 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002). [Back]

[2]. RISM 16265. For the full title of the anthology see the appendix. [Back]

[3]. For the full text of the dedication see the appendix. [Back]

[4]. Gdańsk is the most northern-located city in Poland. Also known as “Danzig” (in German), it belonged among the affluent merchant “free cities” of Hansa – an organization grouping cities freed from the jurisdiction of any state. [Back]

[5]. I own great thanks to Professor Danuta Popinigis from Akademia Muzyczna in Gdańsk, who confirmed my assumptions to the owner of the coat of arms. Professor Popinigis found mention of Czirenbergs’ coat of arms in Hubertus Schwartz, Danziger Wappenwerk (Danzig, 1931) and in Dorothea Weichbrodt, Patrizier, Burger, Einwohner der Freien und Hansestadt Danzig (Danzig Verlagsgesellschaft Paul Rosenberg Kiel-Klausdorf, 1988). According to Prof. Popinigis, Czirenbergs’ coat of arms appears also on an epitaph of Daniel and Anna Czirenberg, at the Our Lady church in Gdańsk. [Back]

[6]. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are mine. [Back]

[7]. Christian Krollmann, ed., Altpreussisches Biographie, vol. 2 (Konigsber: n.p., 1941), p. 839-40. [Back]

[8]. In 1630, 1631, 1635 and 1639. Krollmann, Altpruessisches, p. 839. [Back]

[9] In 1625, 1626 and 1636. Krollmann, Altpruessisches, p. 839. [Back]

[10]. Józef Chomiński, ed. Słownik Muzyków Polskich (Krakow: PWM, 1964). Adolf Józef Chybiński, ed. Słownik Muzykow Dawnej Polski (Cracow: PWM, 1949). Friedrich Blume, ed. Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart (Kassel: Barenreiter-Verlag, 1952). [Back]

[11]. Charles Ogier, Dziennik Podróży do Polski, 1635 – 1636 (Gdańsk: Biblioteka Miejska i Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Nauki i Sztuki, 1950). [Back]

[12]. “Invisit Czirenbergium praeconsulem illustr[issimus] legatus, cuius filiam Constantiam Czirenbergiam canentem ludentemque instrumento organico audivit. Formosissima illa est totius urbis femina, omnium, quae feminas decent, artificiorum perita, musices vero ad miraculum usque. Est illa praestantissima voce canitque ad Italicum morem, qui solus in Polonia ac Germania notus est.” Ogier, Dziennik Podróży, vol. 1, p. 344. [Back]

[13]. “Coram illa Varennus noster cecinit, cuius modulos moremque canendi valde laudavit confessaque est, se nunquam Gallice canentem quenquam audivisse. At illa tamen cantionem Gallicam nobis praesentibus cantare ausa est, suo tamen Italico more; doceri se deinde a Varenno postulavit cumque illo cecinit.” Ogier, Dziennik Podróży, vol. 1, p. 344. [Back]

[14]. “… [Constantia], quae ut aculeum animis mostris infigeret, Gallice ad miraculum cecinit…” Ogier, Dziennik Podróży, vol. 2, p. 208. [Back]

[15]. Edmund Cieślak, Historia Gdańska (Gdańsk: Wydawnictwo Morskie, 1982), p. 747. [Back]

[16]. “…tamen eximiam Cons[antiam] dedique illi modulos sive notas musicas, quas e Gallia acceperam.” Ogier, Dziennik Podróży, vol. 2, p. 98. [Back]

[17]. “…lusitque organico instrumento cantionem musicam, quam ad illam soror mea miserat,…” Ogier, Dziennik Podróży, vol. 2, p. 208. [Back]

[18]. “[Neranus], quique nunc in Belgiun transiit, Neranus in illius laudem suavissimos versus elegiacos conscripsit; meliores certe toto hoc septentrione non legi.” Ogier, Dziennik Podróży, vol. 1, p. 345. [Back]

[19]. Maria Sławoszewska, “Kerschensteinowa z Czirenbergów Konstancja,” in Polski Słownik Biograficzny (Wrocław-Warszawa-Kraków: Polska Akademia Nauk, 1966-67). Witold Szczuczko, “Kerschensteinowa Konstancja,” in Słownik Biograficzny Pomorza Nadwiślańskiego (Gdańsk: Wydawnictwo Gdańskie, 1994). [Back]

[20]. Witold Szczuczko, “Kerschensteinowa Konstancja,” in Słownik Biograficzny, p. 380. [Back]

[21]. “Cum illius fama in Italiam pervenisset, dignam illam iudicavere insignes musici Mediolanen[ses], cui librum dicarent, nuncupatum ‘Flores praestantissimorum virorum (intellige de musicis) a Philippo Lomatio delibati.'” Ogier, Dziennik Podróży, vol. 1, p. 345. [Back]

[22]. Stanley Boorman, “Lomazzo Filippo,” in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie, vol. 11 (London: Macmillan Publishers Limited, 2000), p. 140. [Back]

[23]. The battle took place in 1621 at Chocim. Adam Przyboś, Podróż Królewicza Władysława Wazy do Krajów Europy Zachodniej w Latach 1624-25, w Swietle Ówcześnych Relacji(Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1977). [Back]

[24]. “…praeconsul Czirenbergius,[…] paterque Constantiae, me per sous apparitores vocari ducique ad convivium regium iussit. Assedi ergo regiae mensae,[…]. Sedit rex prior ex una parte mensae atque a capite solam Constantiam sedere voluit […]. Effecit deinde Constantia, ut rex Varennum nostrum canentem audire vellet,…” Ogier, Dziennik Podróży, vol. 2, p.12. [Back]

[25]. [Back]

[26]. In 1623 Władysław’s court lodged at 11 Long Market Street which was about 300 yards from Czirenbergs’ residence, at 29 Long Street. Irena Fabiani-Madeyska, Gdzie Rezydowali w Gdańsku Królowie Polscy? (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1976), p. 33. [Back]

[27]. There are actually three different accounts of Władysław’s journey written by three different authors who accompanied the prince. All of the records are provided in Adam Przyboś,Podróż Królewicza. [Back]

[28]. “…dla przysłuchania się muzyce.” Przyboś, Podróż Królewicza, p. 240. [Back]

[29]. “Jeszcze nikt o Królewicu J. Mci oprócz gubernatora nie wiedział, że był w Milanie, dlategoż bezpiecznie sobie chodził po wszystkim mieście… Był tedy rano w kościele wielkim Św. Ambrożego. Sam sobie u zakrystyjanów zjednał, że mu relikwije ukazano, a osobliwe ciało św. Karola Boromeusza.” Przyboś, Podróż Królewicza, p. 238-9. [Back]

[30]. “Rano kilku z nas z Królewiczem było w Kościele Św. Ambrożego… [wieczorem] Odbywała się beatyfikacja o. Andrzeja, założyciela teatynów, u tych ojców; Królęwicź byl na tym świeto dla przysłuchania się muzyce.” Przyboś, Podróż Królewicza, p. 240. I am grateful to Robert L. Kendrick who pointed out that the Father celebrated by the Theatine order was Bl. (later St.) Andrew Avellino. [Back]

[31]. Robert L. Kendrick, Sounds of Milan, 1580-1650 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002). [Back]

[32]. “Królewicz słuchał u św. Bernarda spiewajacej mniszki… Po obiedzie uczestniczył w nieszporach u św. Pawła; tam mniszki spiewały na jego cześć. Cudowny głos jednej z mniszek warty zanotowania.” Przyboś, Podróż Królewicza, p. 241. [Back]

[33]. Robert L. Kendrick, Celestial Sirens: Nuns and Their Music in Early Modern Milan. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), p. 115. [Back]

[34]. Ibid., p. 109 [Back]

[35]. ” …twąrza szpetna i już nie młoda, ale przedziwny głos mająca, jakiego i wyższego, i piękniejszego, i śliczniejszego… uszy moje nigdy nie słyszały. Umiała tym swoim głosem rządzić według potrzeby, podwyższała i poniżała go cudownymi gorgami [trelami], że to jak na dziw jaki, tak na słuchanie jej śpiewania co żywo chodziło i w święta ledwie się ludzie nie dusili, słuchając jej w tym kosciółku śpiewania. Jam ja słyszał śpiewającą w dzień Narodzienia Najśw. Panny. Śpiewała wszystko Magnificat alternata z muzyką. Ale musiałem dla miejsca dobrze przed nieszporem postać, bo tak wielki był tłum ludzi.” Jakub Sobieski, Peregrynacja po Europie, 1609-1613: Droga do Baden, 1638 (Wrocław: Źaklad Narodowy im. Ossolińskich, 1991), p. 174. [Back]

[36]. “Podczas mszy u oo. benedyktynów Królewicz słuchał muzyki na różnych instrumentach przygotowanej.” ; “…którą wszyscy co lepsi muzycy milanscy in gratiam [dla uczczenia] Królewiczowi śpiewali.” Przyboś, Podróż Królewicza, p. 241-2. [Back]

[37]. Kendrick, Milanese Musical Culture. [Back]

[38]. “Widźial znowu Królewicz J.M. kilka inszych kościołów….Po południu poszedł prywatnie [i] obejrzał cały pałac książecy i sale oraz owe aule bardzo obszerne, wybudowane dla występow teatralnych, które chciała obejrzeć przejeżdzająca tędy Najjaśn. Królowa Hiszpańska Małgorzata.” Przyboś, Podróż Królewicza, p. 242-3. [Back]

[39]. Davide Daolmi, Le origini dell’opera a Milano, 1598-1649 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1998), p. 31-50. [Back]

[40]. Tadeusz Witczak, Teatr i Dramat Staropolski w Gdańsku (Gdańsk: Gdańskie Towarzystwo Naukowe, 1959), p. 68. [Back]

[41]. Henryk Wisner, Zygmunt III Waza (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1991), p. 223-4. [Back]

[42]. Anna Szweykowska, “Przeobrażenia w Kapeli Królewskiej na Przełomie XVI i XVII Wieku,” Muzyka 13 no. 2 (1968): passim. [Back]

[43]. Karolina Targosz-Kretowa, Teatr Dworski Władysława IV (1635-1648) (Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1965), p. 62. [Back]

[44]. Ibid., p.114. [Back]

[45]. “Inter hoc convivium musica tam instrumentorum, quam vocum convivas exhilaravit. Eunuchus praesertim reguis, quem ille ex Italia deduxit, nitidissima voce et altissima omnem strepitum perrumpebat.” Ogier, Dziennik Podróży, vol. 1, p. 95. [Back]

[46]. Władysław Czapliński, Na Dworze Króla Władysława IV (Warszawa: Książka i Wiedza, 1959), p. 275. [Back]

[47]. I owe this information to Prof. Popinigis. [Back]

[48]. Ogier, Dziennik Podróży, vol. 2, pp. 93, 109. [Back]



1. The title page of the motet anthology:

FLORES PRAESTANTISSIMORUM VIRORUM A Philippo Lomatio Bibliopola Delibati. VNICA, BINIS, TERNIS, QVATERNISQVE VOCIBVS DECANTANDI. Quibus adduntur Missa, Magnificatque Duo Cantiones Item, Vt vocant, alla Francese, Duobus, Tribus Quattuorque Instrumentis. NVPER IN LUCEM EDITI AD NOBILISSIMAM CONSTANTIAM Czirenbergiam Gedanensem. MEDIOLANI, Typis Eiusdem Lomatij. M. D. C. XXVI.

The anthology is preserved in: (1) Cesena – Bibliotece Comunale: C. A. T.; (2) Rochester – Eastman School of Music: C. A. B. Partitio.

2. The full text of the dedication:

NOBILISSIMAE, ET LECTISSIMAE VIRGINI CONSTANTIAE, Magnifici, Nobilissimi &, Amplissimi Domini IOHANNIS CZIRENBERGII Burggrabij Regij, Et Consulis Reipubl. Gedanensis dignissimi Filiae. Philipus Lomatius Mediolanensis Bibliopola, S.P.D. Non potuit virtutis tuae splendor, Nobilissima Constantia, Poloniae finibus quamquam amplissimis, contineri: huc etiam cum fama, & ….nominis, tui commendatione, in Italiam Mediolanum peruasit. Et ita illuxit, vt, quantum magnitudine omnium oculos perstrinxit tantum ob amicos radios recreauit, tuique in obseruantiam, & amorem illexit. Ego quidem inter eos sum, qui te nobili fama hic notam, & celebrem impense Colo, & obseruo, vt cum primum ex multorum in arte Musica praestantissimorum, prope diuinus animi tui dotes, & delitias mentis celebrantium relationem accepi, quam multa cum familiae nobilitate virtutum ornamenta coniunxeris, nihil mihi antiquius fuerit, quam vt gratiam mihi inclytae Dominae demererer. Praedicat te fama, lectissima Constantia, Nobilissima ortam familiam CZIRENBERGIA; Quae praestantissimos in celeberrima Gedanensi Republ. viros dedit, Praeconsulari, & Senatoria dignitate Conspicuos. Patrem insuper ipsum, praeter consularem, Regij etiamnum Burggrabiatus honore, ac raris dotibus suspiciendum; Sed longe Nobilitatem domesticam angularibus virtutibus, quibus praestas, te celebrant auxisse; Eam esse heroinam, in qua Charites omnes sedem collocarint: Forma Helenam; moribus Penelopen; mente Palladem, voce, & pectore Dianam; cantu nouam in Parnasso Musam Calliopem: peritia linguarum ac pene omnium scientiarum notitia, coetaneas excellere: Sed illud omnes rapit in admirationem, quod de inaudita, & pene incredibili in Musicae artis Laude de te fama retulit; Cui doctissima sit manus, scitissimi digiti ad sonum, guttur Lusciniae ad cantum vt cum praestantissimis quoque Inuictissimi Poloniae, & Suetiae Regis Canendi artificibus, & Magistris aulicis, ipso etiam Principe Iudice, & admirante, concertare non erubueris. Inuitauit itaque me ista celebrata de te apud nos virtus, vt aliquo te donario condecorarem. Offero hos musicalium Cantionum, (quod gratissimum tibi fore sperem) Suauissimos concentus delibatos scilicet Excellentissimorum Hominum hac in arte flores a me collectos, tuo nomini inscribo, Musices Cultrici auctoribus Concedentibus deuoueo. Quos feruitutis meae pignus esse tibi percupio, & aeternum obseruantiae Monumen … Vale. Mediolano. Kalendis Augusti 1626.

Primary Source

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Katarzyna Grochowska obtained her Master’s degree in 1994 at the Catholic University of Lublin where she studied chant and liturgical music. Currently she is a doctoral student at the University of Chicago, focusing her research on the music traditions of medieval monastic centers in Polish territories. Her article “Wacław of Szamotuły – the Jewel of the Polish Renaissance: indigenous or imported?” appeared in European Meetings in Ethnomusicology vol. 9 (2002). The article “Historigraphi aciem: A Child and a Motet to Reinforce Jagiełło’s New Dynasty” is forthcoming in the conference proceedings from Kraków’s 2003 Early Music Festival. The results of her studies often find their way into the repertory of the ensemble Hortus Deliciarum, a Chicago-based group that she founded in 1997 with the principal goal of propagating Polish Medieval and Renaissance music.