The paper presents the output in the field of music theory, history and aesthetic, created by the outstanding Croatian 17th-century church writer, polyhistorian and traveller Juraj Križanić (Georgius Crisanius; Giorgio Crisanio; 1618-1683?).
Križanic was born in 1617/1618 in Obrh, a village in the vicinity of Zagreb. He was first educated in humanities by Jesuits in Ljubljana, studying later philosophy in Graz and theology in Bologna and Rome. Seized very early by the idée fixe (his "intentio moscovitica") of a would-be religious unity of Slavic world, he studied Greek, Eastern liturgies and theological controversies in Rome. He also dreamed about the Christian alliance against the Ottomans in order to liberate the Slavic world from the Turkish yoke. In 1646-1647 he travelled for the first time to Russia and returned full of enthusiasm for the young Tzar Alexei Mikhailovitch Romanov. Between 1647 and 1659 he stayed in Rome, mostly writing and publishing his works on Orthodox controversies (Biblioteca Schismaticorum Universa) and on music. In the meantime, in1651, he also visited for three months Istanbul as the chaplain of the Viennese court deputation. In Rome Križanić's activities brought him into connection with some outstanding contemporaries such as A. Kircher, J. Caramuel Lobkowitz, V. Spada, L. Holstenius and F. Chigi, the future Pope Alexander VII.
In 1659 Križanić went to Russia anew, this time to stay there for 18 years. After a year or so of initial endeavours to establish himself in ecclesiastical and scholarly circles around the Court, he obviously made a wrong political step and was sentenced to 16 years of exile in Siberia, serving the full term in the town of Tobolsk. He wrote there half a dozen of works, the best known among them being Razgowori ob wladatelystwu (Conversation on Governing). In 1676, the new Tzar Fjodor Mikhailovitch Romanov pardoned Križanić, who in 1677 left for Vilnius, Lithuania, joining there the Dominican order. After writing a Historia de Siberia, dedicated to the Polish King Jan Sobieski, he soon joined his army and subsequently disappeared in the Turkish besiege of Vienna in 1683.
Križanić produced several texts on music issues. They are:
Printed works – 1) Asserta musicalia nova prorsus omnia (Rome, 1656); 2) Novum instrumentum Ad cantus mira facilitate componendos (Rome, 1658);
Manuscripts – 1) Nova inventa musica or Tabulae nouae, exhibentes musicam, Late augmentatam: Clare explicatam: Valde facilitatam (Rome, 1657-58); 2) De Musica (Tobolsk, 1663-1666); 3) O cerkovnom penju [On Church Singing] (Tobolsk, 1675);
Opera dubia: 1) Sopra le Proportioni Musicali (Rome, 1658?; MS; 2) Novi uzorak glazbe [A New Musical Pattern] (Moscow, 1676). They have been preserved and kept in various European libraries and archives (Rome, Bologna, Vienna, Barlin, Vatican, Vigevano, Paris, Moscow).
Information and appreciation of Križanić as a music theorist date back to the 19th and early 20th centuries, both in international (F.-J. Fétis, R. Eitner) and Croatian lexicography and music historiography (I. Kukuljević Sakcinski, V. Jagić, F. Rački, V. Klaic, M. Breyer, B. Širola, J. Andreis, A. Vidaković, I. Golub).
The crucial musicological question concerning Križanić reads: how and why such a personality, dealing throughout his life both intellectually and existentially with history, linguistics, theology, economics and politics, did occupy himself with music?
His musical output was created in two separate contexts: firstly, during his Roman period in the second half of the 1650s, and secondly, during his Russian-Siberian period, some ten to twenty years later.
In the Roman group of texts Križanić obviously wanted to prove his intellectual and social surrounding his level of insight into problems of music, and to improve and facilitate the techniques and practice of composing, reading and performing music. In Asserta musicalia he discussed in 20 'assertions' or propositions a series of musico-theoretical and musico-aesthetical problems. In the main part of Nova inventa musica or Tabulae nouae, exhibentes musicam Križanic exhibited 30 complicated graphical drawings, dealing with the problem of the classification of consonances and proposing a kind of 'equal temperament'. In Novum instrumentum he offered instructions for a device (never to be discovered afterwards) intended for 'miraculously easy way of composing songs'. For the time being we do not know whether Križanic himself was an unrealized composer, a would-be teacher of contemporary music or adviser to Pope Alexander VII concerning his bull of 1657 on music.
The Russian group of writings consist of a text is entitled 'Haeresis Politica 16. De Musica', and of a chapter entitled 'O cerkovnom penju'. In the first, Križanić discusses various aspects of music making in ancient Greeks and Romans, as well as in modern nations such as Italians, Spaniards, Turks, Croats, Serbs, Czechs, Poles, Hungarians, etc. Križanić considered the sole purpose for the existence of music to be pleasure, joy and the oblivion of troubles, and all other concepts and beliefs to be mere misconceptions. The most interesting fragments deal with the variety of European national musics, offering some directives in what to keep and what to change in contemporary Russian musical life. The second manuscript deals with a delicate issue on changes and reforms in Russian Orthodox church singing.
Thus it can be stated that Roman and Russian sets of Križanić's texts differ considerably, one dealing mostly with music theory and aesthetics, and the other with ethnographic and sociological aspects of music. Both orientations were probably dictated by the particular and differing socio-cultural determinants effective in Rome and Russia, and Križanić's manoeuvring within these two cultural circles. However, there exist also unifying aspects in his musical thought at large, recognizable in his general attitude towards music and in his principal orientation to actively participate in religious and social politics of his time.