Lenten Music: Jan Dismas Zelenka’s ‘Miserere’

The Jesuit educated Czech Catholic composer Jan Zelenka, sometimes called the “Catholic Bach,”* is too little known. Worthy to be listed alongside his contemporaries, Bach, Händel, Vivaldi and Telemann, his music presents fine specimens of glorious Baroque counterpoint.

Damian Thompson has an informative and entertaining piece on him in the U.K. Spectator that’s worth reading — complete, though it be, with Thompson’s personal eccentricities. And Robert R. Reilly penned an article on him for Crisis Magazine.

Below is a Miserere composed by Zelenka, the opening strains of which remind me of a Mozart piece I cannot seem to identify.

  • There is another man known as “The Catholic Bach.” In his case, the title is more literal, since he is Johann Christian Bach, youngest son of Johann Sebastian and Anna Magdalena Bach and a convert to Catholicism.