The first Croatian neum manuscripts for church music date from the 11th century. The Osor Evangelistary (1080-1082) from the convent of st. Nikola in Osor (island of Cres) is written in beneventana, ornamented by Monte Cassino initials, and accompanied with old neums. This evangelistary contains among others a prayer for the Pope, for Byzantine emperor, and for the King which at that time was factual ruler of Osor (regis nostri) – Croatian King Zvonimir. The evangelistry is held in the Vatican Archives. Some of the Christmas folk songs from the 12th century are still very popular. It is interesting that the Croats have more than 500 (five hundred) Christmas carols. There are Christmas verses that can have a dozen of different melodies, varying considerably from region to region. The number of Croatian Christmas carols is surprisingly large even in world’s proportions.


The Cika Breviary from 11th century is important monument of Croatian culture written in the Benedictine Monastery of St. Krsevan in Zadar. It also contains musical notation, and is kept in Budapest in the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.


Vekenega Evangelistary, a top monument of Croatian culture, is a richly illuminated Latin text from the 11th century. It has been written in the famous Benedictine monastery of St Krsevan, and is kept today in the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Below you can see the neums accompaning the text.

vekenega1 vekenega2

Very old and valuable for the history of Croatian music is the Dubrovnik Missal from 12th century, now kept in the Bodleian Library in Oxford (Canon Ligurg 342). Written in Latin, in Beneventan script, it contains prayers and some chants unique in Europe. See [Menalo, pp. 34-35], and also Dubrovnik. The Missal, written for the Dubrovnik Cathedral , is full of old Gregorian chants, containing more than 200 monodic meodies. For a long time it was believed to have been written in North Italy, until E.A. Lowe discovered that it was written in Dubrovnik. Miho Demović proved that the Missal was written for the Dubrovnik Cathedral, [Demović, Rasprave i prilozi, p 171-183]. It is interesting that as many as 430 monodic melodies are preserved in the Dubrovnik region from that time: 220 are kept in Dubrovnik missals, out of 720 known monodic melodies preserved in the whole of Croatia. Out of these 220 monodic melodies, 50 of them represent the Dubrovnik music particularities. In this way Dubrovnik became important European center for monodic music.


We can see musical notation also in the famous Trogir Evangelistary (Evangeliarium Traguriense), written in 1230-40, kept in the treasury of the cathedral in Trogir.


According to Dr. Miho Demovic, an important collection of Croatian Middle Age monodic music can be found in about fifty samples, preserved mostly in the Dubrovnik beneventan missal from the 12th century, and in the Dubrovnik beneventan liturgical manual of legend and rite of St Nicholas from 11th century with additional thirty seven songs, achieving high artistic level. It is a part of common musical heritage created in Western Europe. The analysis of preserved scores testifies that the Early Middle Age Croatia had one of the most developed and most beautiful music traditions in Europe.

demovic_dubrovnik_misal12st demovic_dubrovnik_misal12st_a