Early Music Festival in memory of a renaissance polymath

In 1979 an ensemble from Csíkszereda/Miercurea-Ciuc, called Kájoni (later Barozda) ensemble gave a concert on the occasion of the 350th birthday of Johannes Kájoni, a local Franciscan friar and Roman Catholic priest. But the concert, entitled In memoriam Joannis Kájoni, held in the Mikó Castle of Csíkszereda was not a regular concert: it became the national meeting of early music lovers. A year later, as a consequence of the memorial concert, the Early Music Festival of Csíkszereda was born.

It was not an accident that Csíkszereda became the home for such an event, as it is known that in the 17th century the above-mentioned Johannes Kájoni (1629-1687) lived in the monastery of Csíksomlyó/Şumuleu-Ciuc, a place now belonging to the town. Kájoni was not only a friar and a priest, but a true renaissance polyhistor: he was also a musician, a composer, a constructor and repairer of organs, typographer, book publisher, architect and a botanic. He also collected music: the Kájoni-codex is a really rich collection of local and European music, including the melodies of the most appreciated composers of the 17th century, church, baroque, folk, dance and Transylvanian etc. pieces.

The festival grew year by year, until it was banned in 1986 by the dictatorship of Romania and the organizers of the event were expelled from the country. The festival was rebooted after the 1990 regime change, now jointly organized by the local and county government.

Since then they present every year the music of bygone eras, the Middle Ages, Renaissance and the Baroque, musicians from several European countries perform on contemporary instruments or on authentic copies of earlier instruments, in historical interpretation.

The festival also offers musicians a possibility to learn and develop: since 2008 they organize the Early Music Summer University, with instrumental master classes and discourses.

This year’s edition took place between 7 and 14 of July, its theme was Johannes Kájoni 390. Photo-report by Vajk István Szigeti.

The home of the festival, the Mikó Castle of Csíkszereda

Musician perform in historical interpretation
The concert of Le Baroque Nomade | XVIII-21 and guests (France, Hungary, Romania), entitled The Monk and the Traveler, or the Visit of Daniel Speer to Joannes Kájoni
The concert of the Alta Bellezza from Switzerland
Concert in the chapel of the Márton Áron High School. The predecessor of the school was established in the 17th century by the Franciscan monks of Csíksomlyó
The Baroque Festival Orchestra was established in 2010 only to perform at the festival

Musicians often play on authentic copies of early year instruments

Photos: Vajk István Szigeti

Author: Orsi Sarány