Hortus Musicus

When: 24. 8. 2017 at 19:30

Ticket order:

Ticket price: 20-25€

Festibus: Departure at 17:40 (Hala Tivoli). Price: 10 €.

Hortus Musicus (AT):

Christa Mäurer: soprano

Waltraud Russegger: mezzo-soprano

Michael Gerzabek: tenorino

Michael Nowak: tenor

Günter Mattitsch: baritone

Dietmar Pickl: bass




Holy music written by a prince and a murderer.


Artists’ message to visitors

Two years ago we were invited by the director of the Austrian Hospice in Jerusalem to perform the Responsories by Carlo Gesualdo in the Hospice church. What a pleasure to sing in the town of the story’s origin!

In a single day in May 2017 we sang all 27 motets of the Responsories in three different churches in Carinthia. The audience followed us by bus to the different performance venues – let’s say: a modern kind of pilgrimage. The project was a great success.

The concert in Dolenjske Toplice presents an extract of this elaborate work.

We invite you to explore the musical universe of this unique composer with its exciting and surprising sounds. It is difficult to believe that such impressing musical work was written by a man who committed two murders (for which he was never punished). fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA'>Vabimo vas, da se potopite v glasbeni svet tega edinstvenega skladatelja ter odkrijete njegove vznemirljive in presenetljive zvoke. Težko si je predstavljati, da je to izjemno glasbo ustvaril dvojni morilec (ki za svoje dejanje ni bil nikoli kaznovan).


About the project

The ensemble Hortus Musicus specializes in performing Renaissance and contemporary music. In addition to Claudio Monteverdi, it is the famous madrigalist Carlo Gesualdo, Principe da Venosa, whose work the ensemble performs most often. In many concerts we sang his madrigals, which regularly contain expressions of desperate love and desire for death. The fact that he murdered his wife and her lover after finding them in flagranti is probably an important inspiration for his lyrics, which were mostly written by Gesualdo himself. With those lyrics, Gesualdo creates an atmosphere of suspense, dissonant chords and chromatic effects with sudden changes of harmony, unprecedented at the time, and stretches the boundaries of accepted tonality to a point rarely heard again until the second half of the 19th century. For this reason, Gesualdo gained posthumous fame and acclaim, particularly from 20th century composers such as Igor Stravinsky.

There is considerable evidence that Gesualdo was tortured by guilt for the remainder of his life – he was never punished for the double-murder – and he may have given expression to it in his music. One of the most obvious characteristics of his music is the extravagant text setting of words representing extremes of emotion: "love", "pain", "death", "ecstasy", "agony" and other similar words occur frequently in his madrigal texts.

Gesualdo is also known for his sacred music. We were invited to sing some of the Sacred songs (Cantiones Sacrae) for five voices in a concert at the festival Trigonale in Maria Saal (Carinthia, Austria) in 2003. The climax of sacred music is the Tenebrae Responsoria, the Responsories of the Holy Week published in 1611 for six voices. They are stylistically madrigali spirituali, i. e. madrigals for sacred texts. As in the later books of madrigals, he uses particularly sharp dissonance and shocking chromatic juxtapositions, especially in the parts highlighting text passages having to do with Christ's suffering, or the guilt of St. Peter for having betrayed him.

The ensemble Hortus Musicus has chosen Carlo Gesualdo as one of its favourite composers, because of his modernity in harmony and musical expression. No representative of early music is better suited as the link between musical past and present than Carlo Gesualdo. 

Hortus Musicus (AT)

The ensemble Hortus Musicus specializes in performing Renaissance and contemporary music. In addition to Claudio Monteverdi, it is the famous madrigalist Carlo Gesualdo, Principe da Venosa, whose work the ensemble performs most often.

Concert programme

Carlo Gesualdo: Responsoria

The concert can only portray a segment of his elaborate work, for which we chose Responsories from all three parts (Feria Quinta, Feria Sexta, Sabbato Sancto).

From the end of the 16th to the mid-17th century the cycle of the Holy Week's Responsories was one of the most important genres of Catholic sacred music. Carlo Gesualdo wrote a complete cycle, which was printed in 1611.The Tenebrae Responsories are closely related to laments, since they contain the first three parts of the first Night Mass for the last three days of the Holy Week. The complete cycle of laments consists of 27 parts. The texts are chosen from the Old and New Testament and lament the death of Jesus Christ and the grief after the destruction of Jerusalem. According to this structure, every day corresponds to nine Responsories (Holy Thursday = Feria Quinta, Good Friday = Feria Sexta and Holy Saturday = Sabbato Sancto).

Gesualdo created Responsories charged with dramatic and affective means, with surprising dissonances, intense chromatic, tempo modifications and sudden rhythm changes.


Carlo Gesualdo (1566-1613):

Responsoria et alia ad officium Hebdomadae Sanctae aspectantia


Feria Quinta

In monte Oliveti / Tristis est anima mea / Ecce vidimus / Eram quasi agnus / Seniores populi


Feria Sexta

Vinea mea electa / Tenebrae factae sunt / Animam meam dilectam / Caligaverunt





Sabbato Sancto

Jerusalem surge / Plange quasi virgo / O vos omnes / Ecce quomodo moritur / Sepulto Domino




Lyrics can be found in Concert leaflet


Soteska, Devil's tower

The most interesting jewels of Slovenia's landscape are very often those that are shrouded in a veil of mystery. One such place is the Devil's Tower in Soteska, a little village between two forested plateaux. The tower has stood here for over three hundred years, a place of entertainment and sinful pleasure.



The price of coach provided for all concerts from Ljubljana and Zagreb is 10€. Departure from Hala Tivoli and Lisinski Hall.