• 1900

    he acomplished the archepiscopal secondary grammar school in Trnava

  • 1900 – 1901

    studies at the Conservatory in Budapest (composition – Hans Koessler)

  • 1901 – 1903

    the Conservatory in Vienna (composition – Hermann Grädener)

  • 1903 – 1905

    studies in Prague (organ – Josef Klička, composition – Karl Stecker)

  • from 1909

    up till his death he worked as a choirmaster in the St. Mikuláš Cathedral in Trnava

  • 1918

    he was engaged in concert and public activities and was an inspector of music schools

  • 1956

    the title of a national artist


"In his first composition period Schneider-Trnavský was focused on song. His first efforts, to German texts, gave way to an enduring interest in the melody of the Slovak folk song, with which he made acquaintance in nationally-minded societies in Vienna and Prague. His first adaptations of folk songs appeared, and then immediately his first art songs to texts by Slovak poets for solo voice with piano accompaniment. The years of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy’s downfall, marked by the revolutionary enthusiasm of the young Slovak intelligentsia who yearned for national independence, brought a need for choral compositions which would correspond musically with the revolutionary content of texts by young politicians  (e.g. V. Šrobár, deputy F. Juriga). In the period up to 1918 there are several of them: Slovak Uprising; The Slovák Stands; Slovak Fighting Spirit; Slovak, Lend an Ear, and so forth.

An important milestone in the work is his tour with Umirov and subsequent stay in Germany. During this period he did not have much time for composition (except for assiduous work on individual numbers of an operetta), but certainly he had an opportunity to listen to and play world musical literature; the milieu that he entered was pulsing with cultural and musical vitality (in Leipzig he also became acquainted with M. Ruppeldt); and he was influenced by the new direction of development of musical language. This influence was manifested first of all in the song collection Tears and Smiles (publ. 1912), which the critic M. Lichard rejected as part of the broad current of “international musical modernism”, and later in chamber works of a spiritual character (e.g. Benedicta cuius viscera for Soprano, Violin and Organ, 1916; the composed Mass Missa pro defunctis, especially its Benedictus for Alto and Organ, publ. 1922; Ave Maria for Soprano, Violin and Organ, publ.  1923) and in several independent songs (Over the Cradle, publ.1922; Don’t Look Round, 1933). A considerable impact on the further direction of his musical language and musical inspiration was made by his work on the Unified Catholic Hymnal, which the St. Wenceslas Society had been planning to publish ever since its foundation (1870). This task began to be achieved only in 1921, after the establishment of the First Bishops’ Conference. Schneider-Trnavský was given responsibility for the musical aspect of the hymns. Over fifteen years he had a great deal of cancional literature at his disposal, with published and manuscript collections from all corners of Slovakia. As in his first period, he drew inspiration from the  Slovenské spevy (a famous collection of “Slovak Songs”) of J. Kadavý; here he absorbed the melodies of Slovak hymns (especially those of Cantus Catholici). He profited by this in his sacred compositions, especially those of the mid-1930s:  Offertórium Terra tremuit; Slovak Mass in G; Missa pastoralis “Alma nox”  in G, etc.

In the subsequent period, when he also concluded his intensive work on his single operetta  Bellarosa (1941), where he made use of songs created in Leipzig in 1909, as a mature sixty-year-old he recast all these impulses into unique sacred compositions, mostly vocal-instrumental. There too we find the characteristic modal procedures, frequent use of alternating chords, employment of enharmonics. However, he now devotes more space to working with the theme, in contrast to the preceding period, where the motivic themes feature excessively. His important works include the composed Masses Missa in honorem Sancti Nicolai (1948), Missa Trencin-Teplicensis (1948) and Missa in honorem Sanctissimi Cordis Jesu (1949), created during a further period of rupture in society. 

The facts given here are particularly concerned with his spiritual compositions, where he was unambiguously able to affirm his freedom of mind and spirit. His secular works, which were mainly produced on commission or under the influence of other, external stimuli, would need partially to be judged by different criteria. Many of them are instructive, in the oldest sense of the word. Almost as a rule, he composed for a specific addressee, and the quantity and quality of Slovak music formations in the first half of the 20th century was notably limited. The most frequent commissioning agent was M. Ruppeldt, conductor of the Slovak Teachers’ Choral Singing Group, which was one of the best choral bodies. Accordingly, several of his works for male choirs are highly elaborate compositionally. One must understand that in contrast to the orchestral bodies, the performance base was most developed in the field of choral singing. This too may have been a reason why Schneider-Trnavský did not become a composer of symphonies but rather, in the overwhelming majority of his compositions, used the human voice. He is the author of four song collections (apart from those mentioned, there is a collection of songs originally designed for the song textbooks From the Heart, 1920 and Songs About a Mother, 1940), a five-volume collection of arrangements of Slovak folk songs, and some pedagogic pieces for piano (Slovak Sonatina; A Diverse Series of Pieces for Piano) and organ (Small Interludes for Organ; Preludes for Organ). Apart from his graduation sonata, for the violin he also composed his Duhopoľ and string quartets as preparatory studies for the Slovak Suite. Among his works we also find a great many occasional pieces. He created the symphonic poem Pribina’s Promise on commission for the Pribina celebration in Nitra (1933). His single symphony, the “Remembrance” Symphony in E minor, was composed at the suggestion of the Union of Slovak Composers. It was premiered in the year of his 75th birthday (1956). A year later he created a further large orchestral work: Slovak Suite: When Song Resounds. 

Schneider-Trnavský lived in four states and under five regimes, though he never moved from his native city. Despite this, his unambiguously life-loving attitude, profound faith and democratic conviction kept him in public awareness, even if (especially during the communist regime) with a strictly selective appreciation of his art."

(BUGALOVÁ, Edita: Mikuláš Schneider-Trnavský. In: A Hundred Slovak Composers. Eds. Marián Jurík, Peter Zagar. Bratislava : National Music Centre Slovakia, 1998, pp. 243 – 245.)