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Revue Pamiatky a múzeá – Summary 4/2006

The Košice Dominican church
The monumental Dominican
Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, with the baroque-classicist
two-floor monastery that joins it from the north, dominates the northwestern
part of the Košice historical centre. The results of recent research at the
monastery site prove that the church from the end of the 13th and beginning of
the 14th century made a significant contribution to the history of Central
European architectural development. The single nave architectural structure with
a polygonal presbytery and massive supporting columns on hips is covered with a
low saddle roof. The high pyramid of the tower’s roof protrudes significantly
and functionalist architecture of a modern club and cinema can be witnessed at
the front of the nave from the west, partially covering the church’s northern
façade. The interior is dominated with a neo-period-style main altar with closed
choir board, behind which a new sacristy was built during church renovation in
the 18th century and above it a chapel that joined onto the monastery corridor.
Despite the presbytery being cut short, the interior, divided with baroque
pillars in the nave and gothic ribs in the sanctuary, is the largest
early-Gothic sacral room in Slovakia. The skilfully superior gothic
stone-sculpture decoration in the church presbytery stirred the interest of art
historians in the past. They believed that the Saxony-Meissen-Silesian
influences from Krakow and Wroclaw connected to Spiš (V. Mencl), or the
along-Danube branch tied to Wiener Neustadt (J. Bureš), for instance, could have
had an impact on the Košice Dominican church architecture. Beyond dispute they
date the beginning of the church’s construction to the last third of the 13th
century (Š. Oriško). The oldest evidence refers to the church as Ecclesia beate
Virginis. The church’s patrocinium of the Holy Virgin has remained until today.
In 1698 major repair of the monastery began and in 1700 – 1741 the church
acquired a baroque look. A hundred years later the interior received its last
significant face-lift: new altars were installed and at the beginning of the
20th century new windowpanes embedded. In the 1950s it stopped serving the order
and only after the monks’ return for the second time, at the end of the 20th
century, could renovation of the Dominican area commence.

The entrance tower of Kežmarok
The Spiš town of Kežmarok has all the
attributes of a medieval town: primarily, there is the gothic parish church with
belfry, medieval school and town hall in the square and a network of streets
with a line of burgher’s houses. Today’s make-up of the historical core is the
result of planning in the late medieval and renaissance period. Extensive
historic-archaeological research, which was part of the Kežmarok castle
renovation that started in early 1920s and finished in 1985, returned to the
theme of the town’s localization. The place was a crossroad of important trade
roads leading from Poland to eastern Slovakia, which predetermined its setting.
The town’s oldest core originated on an older Slav settlement in the territory
of St. Michael’s and was dominated by the parish Church of St. Michael, today
rising from the west of town above the train station. Under Michael’s mound on
the right bank of the Poprad river, there used to be the settlement known
locally as the Old Market. Northeast of the Old Market, the Kežmarok territory
was enlarged by the addition of the Saxony settlement with its parish Church of
St. Elisabeth. The area forming today’s parish Church of Holy Cross created the
town’s basis, which received official town’s rights in 1269. Since 1368 the town
had a contiguous fortification that became part of the castle’s wall. The first
written evidence about the castle dates from 1463 with the construction of an
irregular oval fortification along with a fortified courtyard and gothic palace.
The construction works finished in 1465, when the Church of St. Elisabeth was
pulled down along with the monastery. The castle palace architecture dates to
the late gothic period, the start of the 16th century. Some details on the
entrance tower, however, contain features of the previous movement. It can be
assumed that the tower originated as a residential burgher or town house in the
first quarter or, by the latest, in the first half of the 15th century. The
research results prove residential towers, standing on free sites, were already
in existence by the 13thcentury, though mainly in the 14th and 15th centuries,
as was the case generally with castles, forts and burgher’s architecture across
Slovakia. Gradually, they enlarged by adding housekeeping and residential rooms
and headed towards public communication. By the second half of the 15th century
they formed a solid street line.

The world’s nations as seen in the 16th
The library of the Slovak National Museum in
Bratislava has in its stock a uniquely rare historical book, the Habitus
praecipuorum populorum. Issued in 1577, it is the book’s contents that captivate
attention as much as the beautiful, hand-coloured engravings. After scientific
research proclaimed it a historical book document, it was revealed that the book
is one of seven known copies of the initial edition that have been preserved in
the resources of world libraries or museums. The Slovak National Museum in
Bratislava, as one of the book’s owners, has joined the British Library in
London, the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin, the Universitätsbibliothek
in Heidelberg, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich, the
Universitätsbibliothek in Bayreuth and the Bibliothek der
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitäts in Munich.
The book contains 219 coloured
full-page woodcarvings 29cm high and 19.5cm wide. The pictorial part is
completed with short inscriptions and witty commentaries on typical features of
particular cultural and social categories. The work is a special ethnographic
encyclopaedia of the 16th century, with clearly defined Central-European
provenance. Based on the number of illustrations one can also assess the
importance of individual nations and ethnicities. Also essential is the effort
to capture social and societal categories – aristocrats, townsmen, farmers,
state and local officers, single girls, married women and widows. The work can
be also studied from the historical aspect of Central-European mentalities,
clothing history, social psychology, sociology, fine art and book illustration.
Apart from the known copies of the first, 1577 edition, we know of only one
later edition from the 17th century (Ulm: Görlin, 1639). Modern editions result
from the interest in the work during the 20th century – smaller in 1955
(Privatdruck für die Freunden des Verlages Hoppenstedt), and larger in 1969
(Unterscheidheim: Uhl). Jost Amman, one of the best Central-European
illustrators and woodcarvers of the 1560s to 1590s, painted the pictures in
book. The authorship and inspiration of the Habitus praecipuorum populorum is
assigned to the publisher and engraver Hans Weigel Formschneider.

Slovak national clothes
National symbols, as an important tool of the Slovak emancipation
process, which culminated in the 1860s, have been developing dynamically from
the end of the 18th century until 1918. Unlike national costume, the sign, flag,
tricolour and anthem were not questioned from the second half of the 19th
century. The design of national clothing, however, has been mainly perceived
ideologically and practical needs secondarily. The national costume’s designs
are mainly a combination of the burgher’s clothes of the Hungarian monarchy and
folk dress. In order to highlight their nationality, the Slovak national colours
were applied. The reports on dresses worn at Slavic balls in Vienna and Pest, a
Slavic Meeting in Prague in 1848 and other events prove this.
Attempts to
define national clothing arose in times of increased political activity within
Slovak society in the second half of the 19th century. The attendants of the
Martin meeting in 1861, which provided the origin of the Slovak Nation’s
Memorandum, realised the seriousness of the moment and therefore attempted to
achieve the greatest publicity. They mainly used jewels and glasses to
demonstrate “the Slovak” but attempts to push Slovak national costume through
were noticeably apparent. Entitled the “Slovak national costume”, it was
promoted in the Sokol (Falcon) magazine in 1862. The submitters drew inspiration
for patterns and colouring from the folk clothing of the mainly lower Orava
yeoman families. A separate chapter in national clothes’ design was dedicated to
“Slovak shirts”. They were worn from the 1880s to 1940s and symbolised a gesture
for Slovak nationalisation. The article visually illustrates Slovak national
dress on period portraits of the leading national movement representative Ján
Baltazár Jesenský-Gašparé (1825 – 1889).

Železník monument zone
Železník is an 814-metre hill in Revúca vrchnovina (upland),
historically the largest deposit of iron ore in Slovakia. The limonite ore had
been probably mined there already in Roman times; however, no direct evidence
has been preserved to confirm it. The first written reports come from as late as
1435, when the mines were part of the smelting furnaces (hamors) of Muráň’s
domains. In the 15th to 18th centuries there was an increase in the number of
owners of mining fields. There were the owners of hamors in Muránska and
Rimavská dolina, and the Koháry yeomen. Through relation ties, the mining fields
of the Kohárys later became property of the Prince of Coburg. In 1780 the state
increased its own mining allocation and in 1864 the Heinzelman society acquired
its share. In 1881 the Rimamuráň-Shalgotarian society gained most of the mining
property. The iron ore was smelted in Likier, where it was transported by a
unique cableway for that time which was 13.9 kilometres long. In 1903 they
stopped mining in Coburg’s mines and then after the First World War, the
Rimamuráň-Shalgotarian society cancelled the smelting of ore in Likier and
restricted the mining as well. In 1929 the Heinzelman firm stopped mining. Only
state mines, connected to ore processing in the Tisovec high furnace, continued
to mine. Even during the times of crisis, Železník managed to retain its
10-precent share on Slovak mining. After World War II, the state provided a
large reconstruction of extracting and regulating facilities. The mining reached
its peak in 1958 and in 1964 – 1966 gradually diminished. Parts of the mining
colonies with residential, processing, administrative and cultural-societal
buildings can still be found in Železník. The houses from the end of the 19th
century are among the oldest workers’ agglomerations in Slovakia. They document
the first attempts at standardized construction. Three of the most preserved
colonies, Kríž, Ladislava and Štokovce, were announced as a monument zone in
1990, which documents the life and work of miners at the end of the 19th

Železník mining in Rožňava
The Gemer region is mainly known for its iron
ore mining and Gustav Eisele is one of the leading personalities to have managed
the economic and social activities of this locality, besides playing an
important role during the establishment of the Mining Museum in Rožňava. There
are several gems to be found in the Rožňava museum. Limonite ores from the
Železník and Rákošská Baňa, in the mineralogical part of the mining exposition,
are among them. Limonite was probably mined here since Roman, or even older
times, when Celts occupied the land. Findings from the remains of a Roman
smelting furnace discovered in 1896, prove the ancient mining.
The oldest
documents relating to metallurgical production date from the 11th and 12th
centuries. They mention the two field shaft-furnaces of Gemerský Sad – the only
such original ones in Slovak museums, and hand cutting tools. In 1627 gunpowder
was used for the first time in mines, only to be later substituted by the more
effective dynamite. This speeded up mining development as well as mechanizing
the drilling works at the end of the 19th century. The proof is in the drilling
machine of the Marvin type from 1899, working on the Thomson–Houston
electromagnetism system principle, and the Siemens–Schuckert machines from 1905,
driven by electromotor. In 1914 Železník witnessed the start of pneumatic
drilling as is documented by the high-speed rotary-impact drilling Flottman
hammers in the museum. The development of mining transport technology is
documented in the exhibited originals of methods of transportation. The mining
carriage, hunt, was introduced to Gemer mines in 1486. In 1868 rails were laid
down in the tunnels for iron wagons pushed by human means. Tools for
resuscitation and to enable entry into respiration rooms, such as the Pulmotor
Dräger from 1913, are documented by the mining rescue service. The model of the
Tisovec high furnace, which was pulled down in 1964, dominates the final part of
the exposition.

Bratislava photographer František
The publication of the
work on Ondrejský cemetery (2004), where František Jánoška (Ferenc Janoska, 1891
– 1947) has his tombstone, helped to create a better understanding of the life
and work of this famous Bratislava photographer. His son-in-law, Vladimír Dian,
later provided other important documents about him. They include so far
unpublished photographs of Mr. Jánoška, which he left to his relatives. Jánoška
studied to become a photographer. In 1906 – 1909 he worked at the Béla Mindszent
studio in Bratislava as a retoucher, assistant and lab technician. Until now it
was unknown that after World War I broke out in 1914, Jánoška entered the
Russian front. He was injured at the very beginning and was later taken into
captivity, ending up at a Siberian labour camp in Schkotovo. The prisoners had
to work in hard conditions on the construction of a railway. The family thought
him dead until he returned home in 1920. Jánoška took pictures whilst in
captivity as well. The first photographs preserved from that period are being
published. Images from 1914 – 1920 capture his co-prisoners, the camp itself, as
well as the local inhabitants and their dwellings. The photos have been
preserved also thanks to the article’s author Vladimír Dian.

Bratislava radio
During 80 years of radio broadcasting
in Slovakia, radio institutions have been found in various places, from the most
bizarre to those suitably fitting the needs of radio work. Bratislava alone
found radio residing in three buildings; the fourth serving its function up
until today. When the Radio journal company worked on establishing a subsidy in
Bratislava at the end of 1925, it chose the so-called Government Building, a
secession house projected by Viennese military engineer Joseph Rittner for the
local headquarters of the ck army in 1911 – 1912. After Czechoslovakia was
founded in 1918, the building became the seat of the Ministry with full
administrating power for all Slovakia. The Ministry had an eminent interest in
broadcasting from Bratislava and so it offered the radio workers a space on the
first floor of the building at Gondova street. The studio, from which Slovak
radio started broadcasting on August 3, 1926, was to be found on the stage of
the building’s social hall (today’s Moyzes Hall of the Slovak Philharmonic). The
place, however, did not suit the acoustic requirements and besides, the radio
had to occasionally free it for social or sporting events. What is more, the
Ministry’s warm-hearted relations with the radio later fell away and so it asked
Radiojournal to leave the hall. The firm’s management saw a solution in the
construction of a new building. Radio institutions were administered by the
Ministry of Post and Telegraph, which denounced radiophones. In the end, it
allowed building a radio house in Bratislava on condition that part of it would
serve the postal needs. The project, sitting on Jakubovo square, was designed by
architects Alois Balán and Jiří Grossman. The construction works started in 1928
and on January 21, 1930, Radiojournal took over the workplace. The radio
occupied the ground floor, first floor and basement of the four-story
functionalist building. This unique space was only the second such in Europe to
be specially designed for radio needs (Munich’s Funkhaus started to run in
1929). There were four studios in the building, which undoubtedly meant
progress. However, it soon turned out that the administration undervalued
radio’s needs and its development. The crisis of inadequate space broke fully
again in 1939, when Slovak radio went independent. Now the Post freed the second
floor and some offices on the first floor were turned to studios. During the
Bratislava bombing in June 1944, the Anglo-American air force also hit the radio
building. The radio management and the Ministry of Transport and Public Work
decided to move the offices to a safer place – the school on Zochova street – in
August 1944. Provisory studios, offices and technical rooms were built on the
ground floor of the school in 1893 – 1894. The building, however, did not suit
the purpose. The Slovak Radio management therefore hoped to acquire a new
building. After dissolution of Slovak Radio in 1948, Czechoslovak Radio took
over the idea. The politicians, however, come to a different decision. They
relocated the finances reserved for constructing a radio building to erecting
transmitters for obstructing anti-communist radio stations. The school building
became insufficient for the growing radio broadcast, despite its 1953
renovation. The former social hall of the Governmental Building became the
Concert Hall of Czechoslovak Radio. Music archive found place at the former
Capuchin monastery, which the regime usurped after banning the order’s activity
in the 1950s. The need for a new building became even more urgent.
At the
beginning of the 1960s the decision was reached to build a new site in
Bratislava centre between Mýtna and Žilinská streets. The winning design by
architects Štefan Ďurkovič, Barnabáš Kissling and Štefan Svetko proposed a
complex of buildings with a central tower building in the shape of an
upside-down pyramid. The first workers moved to the new offices at the end of
1984. On March 27, 1985 the broadcasting from Mýtna started. The Radio suggested
building a permanent exposition on television, radio and Slovak electronic
industry at the historical building on Jakubovo Square. However, it only
succeeded in bringing the building onto the State List of Immovable Culture
Monuments in 1985.

Recording the sound – From the history of
radio technology

Neither the era of robust machines
with magnetic sound recording produced by the Blattnerphone company (Great
Britain, 1930), nor the first classical AEG K1 tape-recorder (Germany, 1935)
made it to Slovak radio studios. The first sound recording in Slovakia was done
in 1939 on wax disks, when the recording was cut into a surface with a sapphire
spike using an electromagnetic pickup. After reproduction, the disk was rubbed
off and prepared for another use. In 1941, Bratislava gained a transmission
truck with equipment to record the Decelith brand records. Such records had an
active gelatinous layer on a solid foundation and after recordings were hardened
with special liquids, which resulted in less wear. The device was run by a
spring that had to be wound often. The Pyral Company of France used a similar
process when recording on a disk with an acetate coating applied on solid
aluminium folia.
The first AEG Telefunken tape-recorders entered Slovak
Radio in 1940. Two years later they started to use Dutch Philips-Miller
apparatus. The sound recording was mechanical, the reproduction optical. They
used the mechanism of film recording on a celluloid strip. The advantage was
that if an interpretation or technical mistake occurred, the strip was cut with
scissors and the corrected sequence pasted in the original recording. In the
first half of the 1950s came the era of Sander & Janzen (S&J)
tape-recorders from the German Democratic Republic, which lasted for about 20
years. In this historical context, one cannot omit the tape-recorder known as
“wirephone”. It used an electric or mechanical drive on a spring operated by a
knob. Meopta Přerov produced wirephones of the Paratus brand in Czechoslovakia
in 1950.
The second half of the 1950s brought the era of playback. At the
beginning of 1960s came the four-foot tape-recorder with filmstrip being the
magnetic record carrier, which enabled quintuple playback.
Since 1968
four-channel Studer tape-recorders were added to SRK recording tables. This
resulted in first music stereophonic recordings of various genres with the
option of playbacks on quality apparatus. For recoding outside there were cars
equipped with standard radio recording technique. Reporters used portable
battery tape-recorders of Klangerät, Uran and Uher brands, and since 1970 the
first Philips machines with compact cassette. Up today you can find
tape-recorders of the Swiss firm Kudelski (Nagra 3, Nagra 4 stereo) being used.
The classical studio strip entered Slovakia with the first AEG Telefunken
tape-recorder. From 1968 the society switched to BASF and Agfa products, which
had seen constant updates. The technology expansion in the 1970s and 1980s
brought new models of Studer tape-recorders (A 80, A 80/4 and A 80/8). Hungarian
STM 200B and STM 210 tape-recorders were used in the Slovak Radio until 1970.
The polo-professional MG Revox A 77 and Revox A 700 tape-recorders found use in
a special outside recording since the mid 1970s.

Serving art and church – Live and work of
Valér A. Zavarský
V. A. Zavarský (1905 –
1993) combined the work of priest and pedagogue with art historian, artist and
practical conservationist. He well understood the importance of sacral art in
the past as well as its current need. After leaving grammar school he decided to
enter holy orders and despite his great interest in fine art and architecture,
after he finished studying philosophy in Belgium and theology in Innsbruck, he
went to study German in Bratislava, following the order’s decision. He added
aesthetics and art history subjects to his study, which he capped with a
doctorate in art history in 1940. His study trips to Paris (1929) and Munich
(1936) formed his professional development.
As an art historian, Zavarský
assisted Professor Eugen Dostál in Art History Seminary at Slovak University in
Bratislava between 1942 and 1947. In 1943 he published his only book, The Roman
Churches of Slovakia. In 1948 he spent some time teaching at the newly
established Department of Architecture and Construction at Slovak Technical
University in Bratislava. As an expert on religious art, he led the
Artistic-technical Department at the Central Catholic Office (1946 – 1948) and
after having finished its work, he moved to the Slovak Church Association (1949
– 1950). The need to repair church monuments destroyed by war, brought many work
opportunities. Zavarský was an architect and artist, but also a conservationist.
The communist takeover in February 1948 and the closure of monasteries in 1950
violently stopped his activities. After internment, he and others alike were
sentenced and imprisoned. In 1960, when he returned from jail, he did religious
art activities only sporadically. After the liturgical reform of the 2nd Vatican
Council (1962 – 1965) and partial relief from the ideological pressure in 1968,
Zavarský returned to his work as a church art expert by a taking a job in the
Liturgical Commission. During the 1970s and 1980s, he secretly lectured in art
and architecture.

The altar of St Nicholas from Spišská
The Roman-Catholic Parish Church of St.
Juraj (George) in Spišská Sobota, is the most significant object and the oldest
preserved building in the town. Particularly rare is its interior, where five
late-gothic wooden wing altars have been preserved. Apart from the main altar of
St. George by Master Pavol from Levoča, there is the Virgin Mary altar in top
pole in the presbytery. The altar of St. Anton the Hermit stands south of the
presbytery, next to the main altar. The St. Anna’s altar is at the head of the
northern nave and the St. Nicholas altar stands in its original place, at the
head of the southern nave beside the triumphal arch.
The wing side altar of
St. Nicholas represents a quality work of medieval art, the so-called
Gesamtkunstwerk. The altar unit has an architectural character; the main figures
in the altar case and others in the extension are the work of a carver, table
paintings on the wings and the dividing board were made by a painter, a
carpenter did the construction, and gilding and decoration point to a variety of
artistic crafts. The altar architecture has a rich sculpture decoration; the
painting ornamentation is expressively applied on two-side painted altar wings.

From an iconographical viewpoint the altar belongs to the group of Spiš
Nicholas’ cycles, usually dated to the first decade of the 16th century. In
spite of its qualities, it was not explored more systematically. Sporadic
remarks come from Merklas, Myszkovszký, Divald, Wiese, Csánky, Radocsay,
Homolka, Glatz and others, whose opinions on the work’s author and its dating
diverge. János Végh was the last to evaluate the altar’s table paintings and he
believes that the altars of St. Nicholas in Spišská Sobota, Veľká Lomnica and
Veľký Slavkov are directly connected to the Master of legendary St. Anton.

The Regional Restoration Studio in Levoča restored the altar last year.

The wonder of nature – Biodiversity of the
Everything masquerading under the term
“biodiversity” can be discovered at the new exhibition, Nature’s Miracle –
Biodiversity of the Earth, running at the Natural Science Museum of the Slovak
National Museum in Bratislava. The exhibition presents precious scientific
evidence, as well a variety of forms, shapes and colours of nature…
display, which opened at the end of February 2006, is spread over 490 square
metres. Ján Kautman and Jana Uhlířová are the exhibition’s scriptwriters and
curators; Štefan Rutzký is behind the architectural design and Pavol Choma did
the paintings. The new exhibition, focussing on the variety of life on Earth,
draws on the Biological Diversity Convention, which Slovakia acceded to in 1994.
It is the result of one of the tasks, sponsored by Slovakia’s Culture Ministry,
which the team of Natural Science Museum’s professionals has been handling since
2002. It is also the first phase of the generous idea of renewing the museum’s
contact with the public. The second phase, highlighting the diversity of the
Western Carpathian region, should soon replace the old natural expositions on
the museum’s second floor. The trend towards a non-traditional approach to
present natural themes should continue. It also counts on the use of more
interactive features and multimedia techniques.