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Mateusz Zwierzchowski

Mateusz Zwierzchowski

ca 1713-1768

Zwierzchowski Mateusz, *circa 1713 Wielkopolska, †14 IV 1768 Gniezno, Polish composer, organist and comductor. He came from a noble family; sources do not provide information about his mother, he was brought up and taught by his father, Andrzej, violinist and organist in the cathedral in Gniezno, taken into the Cathedra Band in 1723 together with Mateusz. Here Zwierzchowski continued his studies in the cathedral school and was a member of the Schola Cantorum. After his father’s death (1735), the Chapter took over Zwierzchowski’s care and appointed two curator-patrons. In the same year Zwierzchowski became organist of the metropolitan church in Gniezno which shows the high qualifiactions he had already achieved; in 1738 he was entrusted with additional permanent care of the spinet. He undertook minor repairs of the instrument himself. In 1739 he married a Gniezno noble-lady Marianna Węgorzewska, with whom he had two sons: Eulogiusz Józef (*1743, later a lawyer) and Jakub Eliasz (1745–86, later Provost in the St Lawrence church in Gniezno). From 1750 until his death Zwierzchowski was Kapellmeister of the Cathedral band. In 1757 he was instructed by the Chapter to give music lessons, but Zwierzchowski delegated another musician to teach, whilst he concentrated on composition and organisational matters for the band. At his request 4 trumpets, 4 horns, 3 oboes and a transverse flute were bought for the band; he repeatedly brought outstanding professionals to improve and repair the organs. In the course of 33 years of activity he gained about 250 compositions by different authors for the band, including some from his own pen (the first mention of purchases of Zwierzchowski’s works by the chapter dates from 1740); in 1760 a cathedral fire consumed almost the entire collection. After Zwierzchowski’s death the cathedral Chapter, as a mark of the high esteem in which they held his service, gave him a ceremonial funeral – he was buried on 16 April 1768 in the Sławieński chapel crypt in the cathedral. The band was dissolved two years after Zwierzchowski’s death on account of the difficult material situation of the Chapter. It was reactivated in 1780, but then the fashion was for other composers, including W. Dankowski, J. Wański also J.K. Vaňhala, K. Stamica, I. Pleyel. In 1786 Jakub Zwierzchowski gave the band the autographs of the masses, vespers, and symphonies by Zwierzchowski that were in his possession, but they were destroyed during World War II.