Georgius Juraj Zrunek

Welcome! This site is dedicated to the works of Georgius Juraj Zrunek (1736–1789).
It is run by Aaron Giles. Find out more about the site or contact me.

Georgius Zrunek was born on 19 March 1736 in Vnorovy close to Strážnice, in what is now the Czech Republic. Originally christened Jozef, he joined the Franciscan Order in Uherské Hradište at the age of 18 and adopted the name of Georgius. For the next few years, he completed his noviciate and studied philosophy and theology.

During his career, Zrunek worked as a preacher, organist, and teacher of singing and organ playing in many cloisters throughout modern-day Slovakia and Hungary. Meanwhile he also composed numerous works, though mostly anonymously, as was tradition in the Franciscan order. He died on 3 June 1789.

(Read a more extensive biography here)

Harmonia pastoralis — Prosæ pastorales

By far the most well-known publication attributed to Zrunek is his two-part 1766 folio entitled Harmonia pastoralis — Prosæ pastorales. Often mistakenly attributed to Zrunek’s orderhood brother, Edmund Pascha, further research has now fairly well established that Zrunek was the true composer of these works.

You can download full scans of the original manuscripts as PDFs from the World Digital Library. Despite the confusion of the text description, both parts are indeed available.

The first part of the publication, Harmonia pastoralis, consists of two pastoral Christmas masses in F major, plus a short motet Tota pulchra.

The pastoral masses are fascinating works (and honestly they are why this site exists). Both masses in this collection follow a similar form, consisting of a nearly complete Latin mass setting for choir, solo, and continuo, interspersed with dialogue between the sheperds and the angels as they decide to travel to Bethlehem and how to honor the newborn king. In effect, they are almost nativity plays, and it would not be a stretch to imagine them being performed more as such than in a formal concert setting.

For whatever reason, the first of the two masses has been widely studied, performed, and recorded, while the second is largely neglected. Fortunately, the second has received a bit more attention recently with the release of Gregoriana’s CD Harmonia Pastoralis.

To further discuss these two works, we have created pages for each with references to scores, texts, and recordings:

Not to be completely overshadowed by the masses, the motet Tota pulchra has also been transcribed to modern notation by Marek Klein of Gregoriana, who has kindly agreed to allow us to share it here.

The second part of the publication, Prosæ pastorales (Pastor’s songs) includes carols and pastorales for Christmas, New Year, and Epiphany, along with four-part compositions for Palm Sunday and Good Friday. Several of the carols have been recorded and placed alongside recordings of the first mass, most notably in the Musica Bohemica recording.

Other Publications

Various articles and information about Zrunek that I have found reference several other works. Below is a list that seems to represent most of his attributed publications