Byzantine Musicologist Milos Velimirovic falls asleep in the Lord

19 04 2008

19 April 2008: Bridgewater, Virginia, USA. The eminent Byzantine Musicologist Milos Velimirovic fell asleep in the Lord unexpectedly, as relayed by Mish’s step-daughter’s husband, Carl Bowman.

Born on 10 December 1922 in Belgrade, Serbia, he graduated from the University of Belgrade, as well as the music academy. In 1957 he received his PhD from Harvard University, studying with Gombosi and Piston, and working with another well-known Byzantine Musicologist, Egon Wellesz. Before retiring in 1993, he taught at Yale (1957-69), was appointed professor of music at the University of Wisconsin (1969-73) and the University of Virginia in 1973. In 1985 he received a Fulbright fellowship to teach in Yugoslavia. On 18 October 2004 he received an honorary doctorate from the National and Capodistrian University of Athens, Greece, with Kenneth Levy.

His research in the Byzantine and Slavic area concentrated on the Slavonic chant and he was editor of Collegium musicum and Studies in Eastern Chant. His monograph, Byzantine Elements in Early Slavic Chant, was published in the Monumenta Musicae Byzantinae (Vol. IV: Pars Principalis, 1960).

Condolences and memories can be sent here.

His warmness and dedicated, research was exemplary and will be sorely missed. May his memory be eternal.

A Select Bibliography

  • Byzantine Elements in Early Slavic Chant (diss., Harvard U., 1957; enlarged, MMB, Subsidia, iv, 1960) ‘Russian Autographs at Harvard’, Notes, xvii (1959–60), 539–58
  • ‘Liturgical Drama in Byzantium and Russia’, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, xvi (1962), 351–85
  • ‘Recent Soviet Articles on Music Theory’, JMT, vi (1962), 283–93
  • ‘Joakeim Monk of the Harsianites Monastery and Domestikos of Serbia’, Zbornik radova Vizantološkog Instituta recueil de travaux de l’Institut d’études byzantines, viii (1963–4), 451–8
  • ‘Study of Byzantine Music in the West’, Balkan Studies, v (1964), 63–76
  • ‘The Influence of the Byzantine Chant on the Music of the Slavic Countries’, Byzantine Studies XIII: Oxford 1966, 119–40
  • ‘Two Composers of Byzantine Music: John Vatatzes and John Laskaris’, Aspects of Medieval and Renaissance Music: a Birthday Offering to Gustav Reese, ed. J. LaRue and others (New York, 1966/R), 818–31
  • ‘Unknown Stichera for the Feast of St. Athanasios of Mount Athos’, Studies in Eastern Chant, i (London, 1966), 108–29
  • with D. Stefanović, ‘Peter Lampadarios and Metropolitan Serafim’, ibid., 67–88
  • ‘Cristoforo Ivanovich from Budva: the first Historian of the Venetian Opera’, Zvuk, nos.77–8 (1967), 135–45
  • ‘Musique byzantine’, Encyclopédie des musiques sacrées, ed. J. Porte, ii (Paris, 1969), 145–64
  • ‘The Musical Works of Theoleptos, Metropolitan of Philadelphia’, Studies in Eastern Chant, ii (London, 1971), 155–65
  • ‘Present Status of Research in Byzantine Music’, AcM, xliii (1971), 1–20
  • ‘The “Bulgarian” Musical Pieces in Byzantine Musical Manuscripts’, IMSCR XI: Copenhagen 1972, 790–96
  • ‘The Present Status of Research in Slavic Chant’, AcM, xliv (1972), 235–65
  • ‘The Byzantine Heirmos and Heirmologion’, Gattungen der Musik in Einzeldarstellungen: Gedenkschrift Leo Schrade, ed. W. Arlt and others (Berne, 1973), 192–244
  • ‘Egon Wellesz and the Study of Byzantine Chant’, MQ, lxii (1976), 265–77
  • ‘Belgrade as Subject of Musical Compositions’, MZ, xvii (1981), 147–64
  • ‘Beginnings of National Music Cultures Among the Southern Slavs’, Serbian Studies, ii (1982–3), 61–70
  • ‘Stevan Mokranjac’, Landmarks in Serbian Culture and History, ed. V.D. Mihailovich (Pittsburgh, 1983), 208–21
  • ‘The Melodies of the Ninth-Century Kanon for St. Demetrius’, Russian and Soviet Music: Essays for Borsi Schwarz, ed. M.H. Brown (Ann Arbor, 1984), 9–34
  • ‘A Papadike in the Hilandar Ms. 703/ii’, Dzielo Muzyczne: Teoria, Historia, Interpretacja, ed. I. Poniatowska (Kraków, 1984), 31–8
  • ‘Some Letters of Pavel Chesnokov in the United States’, Slavonic and Western Music: Essays for Gerald Abraham, ed. M.H. Brown and R.J. Wiley (Oxford, 1985), 254–69
  • ‘Russian Musicians Outside Russia in the Twentieth Century’, MMA, xii (1987), 234–43
  • ‘Christian Chant in Syria, Armenia, Egypt, and Ethiopa’, ‘Byzantine Chant’, NOHM, ii (2/1990), 3–22, 26–48
  • ‘Byzantine Musical Traditions Among the Slavs’, The Byzantine Tradition After the Fall of Constantinople, ed. J.J. Yiannis (Charlottesville, VA, 1991), 95–105
  • ed., with W. Brumfield, Christianity and the Arts in Russia (Cambridge, 1991)
  • ‘Warsaw, Moscow and St. Petersburg’, The Late Baroque Era: from the 1680s to 1740, ed. G. Buelow (Basingstoke, 1993), 436–65
  • ‘History of Art Music in Serbia’, Serbian Studies, ix (1995), 80–87; x (1996), 42–58

FYI: AMS travel awards

19 02 2008

American Musicological Society travel awards

  • the M. Elizabeth C. Bartlet fund for travel and research in France
  • the Harold Powers world travel fund
  • the Eugene K. Wolf travel fund for research in Europe

The deadline for applications is 3 March 2008; details at the AMS web site.

FYI: 15th International Conference on Eastern Chant: 12-15 May 2008, Iasi, Rumania

15 02 2008

Iasi, 30th January 2008, Feast of the Holy Three Hierarchs

This is an official call for papers and participation in our

15th International Conference on Eastern Chant
12th – 15th May 2008, at Iasi, Rumania

The conference will be organized by the Centre for Byzantine
Studies at Iasi
in cooperation with the Rumanian Ministry of Culture
as part of the events celebrating the 600th anniversary of the first
documentary attestation of Iasi as a medieval settlement.

The general theme of this year’s conference will be
offering a new opportunity for putting into practice results attained in
many countries during the past decade by enthusiastic
individual scholars and/or dedicated research teams. New
interesting materials in form of digital copies of MSS will be put at
the disposal of the participants to illustrate new perspectives in
obtaining deeper knowledge of notations, and their influence on
transmission, from the parallel analysis of ‘lucky pairs’ of MSS. One
of the hopes of this conference is the establishment of small
transnational teams that would be willing to work on subjects
related to verifying current interpretations of notational systems,
such as of the middle-Byzantine, znamenny, Kievan staff.

As in previous years, potential contributors are invited to interpret
this theme broadly. Submissions from other fields related to the
cultural and spiritual significance of ecclesiastical chant, such as
history, linguistics, ecclesiastical arts, theology, interdisciplinary
research, continue to be welcome. Both scholars with academic
affiliation and those working independently, as well as postgraduate
students, are encouraged to apply. A panel of three scholars will
review the submitted papers, whose acceptance will be notified in
due course on a first-come, first-served basis. Please distribute this
announcement to colleagues, and interested institutions or

Within this extended theme area two key-note speakers are invited
to address plenary sessions. Related to that, an attempt will be
made off-list to attract the contribution of a few scholars willing to
offer their knowledge in a one-day tour d’horison in general Christian
ecclesiastical culture, and specifically in musical culture and related
investigation tools, possibly modeled on the Current-Status-of-
Research-in-… type of reports, which would be meant as a
teaching-learning preamble to the conference. Should this attempt
prove successful, the duration of the conference may be prolonged
by one day.

The conference sessions will be held in the newly-refurbished,
excellently-equipped Museum of National Union at Strada Alexandru
Lapusneanu 16, and in the Gothic Hall of the Three Hierachs
Monastery, at Bulevardul Stefan cel Mare 28. As in the past, we
shall enjoy the gracious hospitality of Fr Archimandrite Clement, the
abbot of the monastery.

The main communication languages will be English, French,
German, in that order of priority. Russian and Rumanian can also
be accepted in certain cases.

Event highlights

  • The customary joint festival of church music to which, besides a
    number of Rumanian choirs, we are pleased to be able to
    announce the first-time participation of:

    1. the ISON Ensemble from Berlin, under the direction of Dr. Oliver
      Gerlach, which will give, among other appearances, a lesson-
      concert in the MISSA GRAECA;
    2. the GRAZER CHORALSCHOLA from Graz, under the direction
      of Prof. Franz Karl Praßl, will illustrate, among other musical
      traditions, particularly the archaic organum;
    3. depending on manifested interest, other representative choirs or
      ensembles from this country and abroad.
    4. Visits to MSS repositories of Iasi University Library, Library of the
      Metropolitanate of Moldavia, Moldavian State Archives, where a
      variety of MSS will be able to inform on practically the whole range
      of musical styles and notations and provide illustration backgrounds
      to current research projects undertaken in this country;
    5. A number of liturgical services given by the monks and choir of the
      Three Hierarchs Monastery of Iasi, in which guest choirs and/or
      individual participants are encouraged to join;
    6. A 2-day cultural discovery trip to a number of monastic
      establishments in Northern Moldavia and the Maramures after the

Administrative matters

Due to the limited number of places available, pre-registration will
be required. With the exception of the key-note speakers, all
participants are expected to cover their own traveling expenses. 15
places, with all other expenses (accommodation, meals, trip
expenses) covered by the organizers, have been reserved,
particularly for young scholars and researchers, and will be
allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. From all other
participants a participation fee worth the equivalent of EUR 80 (EUR
40 for students) will be required, payable into our centre’s bank
account, as follows:

EUR bank account No.: IBAN RO53 BTRL 02404205.408043.xx
Banca Transilvania S.A., Filiala Iasi
USD bank account No.: IBAN RO53 BTRL 02402205.408043.xx
Banca Transilvania S.A., Filiala Iasi

The remaining – moderate – costs for the optional meals and the
trip can be paid on arrival. Hotel accomodation can be booked via
the Internet. The costs of the trip will be announced in late April,
when the approximate number of excursion options will be known.

Please submit paper summaries of 400-500 words in length,
together with brief curricula vitae by no later than 15th March 2008.
Until supplementary information and spam-free automatic
registration procedures will be made available additionally on our
site , submissions and contact information should be
sent to:

Prof. Gabriela Ocneanu
Scientific director, Centrul de Studii Bizantine Iasi,
Strada Noua 5, RO-700377 Iasi.
+40 232 475313, +40 0746 475300

Traian Ocneanu

Director, Centrul de Studii Bizantine Iasi
Strada Noua 5
RO-700377 Iasi
Phone: +40 232 475313, 475300

Congratulations to Axion Estin Foundation Symposium

11 02 2008

Congratulations are due to the Axion Estin Foundation for their second Symposium on Byzantine Music Education. I’ve included a commentary on the symposium that was published in The National Herald, 2 February 2008 Edition. Some of the commentary seems to ring some bells. This poor soul is stricken with the disease of love for the traditional Psaltic Art; may God have mercy on his soul!

The Art of Byzantine Chant: Music to a Growing Number of Americans’ Ears

By Christopher Tripoulas
Special to The National Herald

Last week, a three-day symposium on Byzantine Music Education took place at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center, focusing on how to build a Byzantine choir. On the evening before the seminar, world-renowned chanter/musicologist Lycourgos Angelopoulos and the Greek Byzantine Choir performed at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, undoubtedly one of the world’s premier museums.

For almost one week, one of the most recognizable and traditional aspects of Greece’s cultural legacy was on display center-stage in perhaps the world’s most cosmopolitan city. When the largest art museum in the Western Hemisphere and the largest urban university in the United States both decide to publicize and promote an issue simultaneously, it’s a big deal. These institutions attract the attention of people from all over the city, even the nation…and maybe, just maybe, some of the decision-makers in the Greek American Community too.

In its press release, the Met mentions that the Angelopoulos concert is presented in cooperation with the Axion Estin Foundation. It is worthy – pardon the pun – to offer the individuals comprising this organization a well-deserved round of applause. In one well orchestrated week’s time, they will have managed to do more to promote Greek Culture than many other much larger, more illustrious and better funded organizations! This is pretty remarkable when considering that this not-for-profit organization is still in its infancy, having only been founded in November 2005. During that time, it has organized two major conferences, in addition to a weekly radio program that is currently in its fourth year.

One-fourth of the foundation’s trustees and officers hold doctoral degrees. This is not noteworthy simply because these individuals possess a high level of education (there are plenty of educated clergymen out there for instance who haven’t lifted a finger to promote Byzantine music; even in their own parish). It is important because it allows bridges to be built between this living, breathing expression of Greek art and the world of academia. Let’s not forget that Byzantine chant represents a piece of the Hellenic legacy that captivates the interest of people worldwide, while holding it own in modern Greek society up until today. People can come into direct contact with this centuries-old art form, as opposed to just reading about it in history books.

This past week, we witnessed cultural diplomacy in the making. Oddly enough, the architects behind this skillful diplomatic display did not come from some powerful national federation, well-financed government institution, or even from within the “official” Church hierarchy. This ray of hope came from a group of bright young people (including second and third-generation Greek Americans) who love their heritage and use their education and cultivation to share their cultural inheritance with others.

Looking at the online list of sponsors, there are even two non-Greek, non-Christian entities who have contributed to this cause; namely, the CUNY Graduate Center Department of Ethnomusicology and the New York State Council on the Arts. If you visit AEF’s website, you’ll see a handful of recognizable names (countable on one hand) from the Greek American Community, one major ethnic Greek association, a handful of businesses, and two public benefit foundations.

With the exception of the National Forum of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians (which is so incongruous that it can be equated to P. Diddy, the Dixie Chicks and the NY Philharmonic singing at a taverna), there appears to be little sign of any direct contribution from Archdiocesan coffers, and even less from any Greek Orthodox parishes. All and all, one clergyman is listed on the foundation’s website. And yet, somehow, this relatively young and inexperienced organization is doing more to advance Byzantine music than most “heavy hitters” in the Greek American Community combined.

There are other organizations and chanters out there who are interested in helping this musical treasure grow and spread not only within the Greek American Community, but in American society at large. The complaint from many of these well-meaning individuals is lack of funding and lack of interest from the powers that be.

As the old saying goes “it ain’t over until the fat lady sings,” but for many of our churches, she’s not just singing, she’s bellowing. This historic musical genre, which contains many of the original scales of Ancient Greek music and serves as the basis for Greek (and Middle Eastern) folk music is being overlooked. We’re graduating priests that don’t know how to chant, much less care to learn. We’ve replaced the chanter’s robe and traditional Byzantine melodies with technicolor dreamcoat satin robes, sashes and pipe organs. In some places, church sounds more like the seventh-inning stretch at a baseball game or a dinner party at Castle Dracula. Even the priests who do care are afraid to do anything to change things because they don’t want to insult the wife of the Parish Council President who sings in the choir and thinks she’s the second coming of Maria Callas.

Isn’t it paradox that the largest Greek Orthodox Community in the United States or many Orthodox cathedrals throughout the country won’t even perform one Sunday liturgy with the traditional Byzantine hymns (the ones that the world famous Metropolitan Museum of Art and the City University of New York find so interesting)? When was the last time any comparable institution wanted to present an exhibition on Greek European choir music? The answer is probably never, because such a thing doesn’t exist. It’s like mixing beer and wine. Each element has its own unique history, but just because you put them together, doesn’t mean the concoction will work.

One well known church used to hold fundraisers so it could broadcast its Western-style Sunday liturgy (complete with organs…peanuts and crackerjack) on a Greek-language TV station! No viewership? No duh? I’m willing to wager that interest in Sunday morning soccer games suddenly skyrocketed during that same period. Let’s not forget the famous Patriarchal liturgy at Madison Square Garden (don’t feel bad if you missed it, this is bound to happen at some similar engagement) when European sheet music toting choirs did their utmost to deconstruct Byzantine hymns that generations upon generations of Orthodox Christians almost innately know how to sing. It was like Tschaikovsky disassembling La Marseillaise in his 1812 Overture. Obviously, the phrase a cappella is not in their vocabulary.

Despite growing international recognition, it seems like the art of Byzantine chanting will continue falling on deaf ears in some places. For those that realize its importance, one step in the right direction is to start bringing children to the chanter’s stand, and not only inside the altar. At some point, most kids outgrow being altar boys, but they never outgrow being chanters. This is also a marvelous way to improve children’s knowledge of Greek and expose them to some of the finest literary and musical masterpieces in world history.

For the moment, the funds and real support do not seem to be coming from the Church administration. It’s up to foundations like Axion Estin, individual parish efforts, and the tireless labors of Byzantine musicologists to preserve and promote this historical treasure. The good news is that these individuals seem to have gained the ear of major American institutions. Maybe as interest from universities, art institutions, and conservatories grows, more and more decision makers in the Greek American Community will start to listen too.

Hello world!

6 02 2008

Welcome to I’m excited about the new psalticBlog. This is a place where psalticNotes becomes community. We can share ideas and information regarding the articles and presentation in the psalticNotes web page or initiate our own, separate dialogues. The only prerequisite is a love for our treasured psaltic art!