P. Romanus Weichlein, who was born in Linz and who became a monk in the Benedictine monastery of Lambach, is known to us today solely by way of his musical heritage. On the one hand, his special talent distinguishes him from many of his innumerable brothers in the Lambach cloister, which has existed almost continuously since 1056.
On the other hand, the everyday life of this sensitive Musician monk was anything but what one imagines an artist’s life to be. It is rare today to find mention in contemporary documents of his being a monk, whereas it is clear his main task was pastoral and administrative. At best, his “free time”. Weichlein’s letters, almost all directed to the abbots of the Lambach cloister, are full of melancholy and regretful words over his supposed guiltiness. Particularly in one of his first missions as a parish priest, in Oberkirchen in Lower Austria (around 1680), any musical sentiments were obstructed by vocational conflicts of uncertain dimension.
The object of one conflict was his cook who apparently did not think well of him, and when drunk threatened him with a hatchet. The situation got so out of hand that the abbot of Lambach had to send a brother from the monastery in order to settle things. The report of the monastic inspector didn’t correspond to the facts and said that Weichlein had murdered the cook! So it was understandable that the accused would want to defend himself and put the matter to rights. He wrote a reply to the abbot in which he begins, “However, after many circumstances arose in which the truth was modified. I lost control and became a different person from who I was before.” Although his declared intention was to prove his innocence, and was able to demonstrate it, he got stuck again and again in more letters with confessions and expressions of remorse, without naming the cause.
This has remained quite a puzzle. It seems more likely that he was the victim of the cook’s slander in that sordid dispute than that he could be truly assessed as a bad human being, judging from the high praise for his services from the Nonnberg convent in Salzburg and Säben in Südtirol. In the above mentioned cloisters, Weichlein was chaplain and music prefect from approximately 1687 to 1705 and was highly esteemed in both cases.
The Salzburger abbess Maria Eranisea chooses her words carefully when she writes to the abbot of Lamach, Severin Blass, to request “benevolent permission to send the honoured Lord P. Roman Weichlein” to her convent.
The bishop of Brixen, Caspar Ignaz, writes a letter about Weichlein to the monastery in Lambach, saying, “To our knowledge, he reads mass, leads an impeccable life, and is exemplary as a monk. So we consider him to be, according to scholarship and conscience...”. information about his music is only a spattering in the documents. From an undated letter, we find out that for Easter he dedicaded a solemn mass (now lost) to the abbot of Lambach “as the sum of my whole capacity”, and that during his studies at Salzburg (around 1674), he wished to learn “that musical instrument, theone commonly called bassoon, or cornetto.”