Date of Award

Fall 2019

Degree Type

Restricted to Claremont Colleges Dissertation

Degree Name

Music, PhD


School of Arts and Humanities

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Nancy van Deusen

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Robert Zappulla

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Holly Gardinier

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2019 Justyna Misiewicz

Subject Categories

Music | Musicology


In the Middle Ages, music was perceived as a measurable discipline that dealt with sound, time, and motion, a discipline based on mathematical principles. Although music lost its place among the sciences in academia and nowadays it is considered part of the arts, still no other discipline but music incorporates both measurable and aesthetic elements. While the measurable elements of music can be objectively analyzed through music theory, the aesthetic nature is invisible and subjective.1 Therefore, any musical composition should be investigated by taking into consideration both the measurable and aesthetic elements, as well as the historical, political, and cultural context and the purpose for which it was written. Certainly, secular and sacred music accommodated different religious and social needs. While music at the court was written for entertainment, the purpose of sacred music was to serve the church and bring people closer to God. For centuries, composers of religious music have aimed to achieve this goal by working with the measurable, the aesthetic, and the “soulish” elements. This dissertation sheds new light on sacred music that flourished at the Royal Cathedral in Kraków, Poland, during the early eighteenth century and takes into consideration its measurable and aesthetic elements.2 Further, the music is placed into the historical and cultural background of eighteenth-century Poland. Indeed, it was a particularly turbulent time in the history of Kraków and the country when the royal city, formerly the capital of Poland and one of the leading cultural centers of Europe, gradually became a provincial town devastated by wars and plagues. These circumstances undoubtedly influenced the music of that time and cannot be overlooked. Fortunately, recent interest in historical performance practice brought to light many of the forgotten sacred compositions of the era. This study rediscovers selected works of the long-time Royal Cathedral Kapellmeister, Grzegorz Gerwazy Gorczycki [gor-chit-ski] (ca. 1665-1734) who devoted most of his life to his music post in Kraków. A near-contemporary of Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel, Gorczycki lived in turbulent times of early eighteenth-century Poland and, as a church musician, composed solely sacred music. Taking as examples his selected vocal-instrumental compositions written for a liturgical purpose, this study shows that the aesthetics of eighteenth-century sacred music are still relevant to a present-day audience nearly three hundred years later.