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Harant’s compositional legacy is not extensive. His surviving works include a manuscript score of a five-part mass, exemplifying the so-called parodic type of composition: as it were, it was modelled on then popular madrigal by Luca Marenzio, “Dolorosi martir, fieri tormenti”. Another five-part piece by Harant, a motet on the German text “Maria Kron, die Engel schon”, was published in 1604, alongside another 32 works by foremost masters of the Transalpine Renaissance, in a collection of Marian compositions titled “Rosetum Marianum”. In 1598, while on the pilgrimage to Palestine, Harant composed a six-part motet “Qui confidunt in Domino” to the text of Psalm 125, “which then imposed itself upon my mind with particular urgency” (Krystof Harant, Pilgrimage). Several years later the composition was published as an appendix to the account of Harant’s exciting voyage. Harant’s output betrays a gifted and skillful composer, on a par with the renowned masters of high Renaissance music.
Born into a none-too-wealthy noble family at the castle Klanovy in the south of Bohemia, Kryštof Harant received a thorough and broadly inspiring upbringing and education at the Innsbruck court of the Archduke Ferdinand of Tyrol. There, he acquired a wide range of knowledge, learned several languages, absorbed the essentials of Humanism and Renaissance, and last but not least, was instructed in the art of musical composition. He stay at Innsbruck gave the young nobleman an orientation which determined his subsequent lifepath. Apart from that influence, though, Harant was doubtless endowed with natural talent for a good many areas of activity, his creative and restless spirit driving him ever to the forefront of his contemporaries. Active as a man of letters, artist and musician, he was an equally accomplished explorer, sportsman, hunter and soldier. Perhaps the only thing Harant lacked was property. That was apparently also the cause of his modest official career, a sphere where he actually received his due only at the dramatic time of the Estates revolt, with tragic effect. (He was put to the sword with along 26 leading representatives of the Estates.)