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Author Topic: Musical Settings of the Divine Liturgy?  (Read 3866 times) Average Rating: 0
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Sophia3
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« on: January 08, 2009, 04:49:41 PM »

I am wondering if there is much musical setting of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom by Orthodox composers, similar to how Catholic composers compose Mass settings? I am aware of Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky's compositions, are there any others? Also, do whatever settings there are see much use, or is it mostly plainchant?

Thanks!
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« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2009, 05:20:44 PM »

So you're looking for divine liturgy settings as done by one composer?  THe ones of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov are the most famous, but there are others.  Gretchaninoff (sp?) has one as does Arkangelsky.  But most composers, I think, only chose to set certain parts of the Liturgy.  for instance, Tchaikovsky has several different settings of the Megalynarion and Bortnianksy  has several different settings of the Cherubic  hymn but he (to my knowledge) made no attempt to set the entire divine Liturgy.

There is a website which specializes in the selling of music and CDs from the Russian/Slavic tradition.  It is called musica russica.  I'm not sure what their web address is but you can google it and find it.

As far as chant goes, in my Antiochian parish, chant is used for Vespers and Orthros exclusively as well as for some special services on weekdays or on Saturday.  Variable portions of the Liturgy which we have no settings for are usually chanted (according to the Byzantine practice).  Some parishes do it differently.  In OCA, ROCOR, Serbian congregations, unless they use a lot of Znammeny or Valaam chant (which I think is rare here in the states), most everything is done in 4 part settings for all services.  It all depends on where you go.
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« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2009, 05:22:47 PM »

Kedrov's Octe Nash is one of my favorite settings.

This site has a bunch of different ones in MP3 format.

http://en.liturgy.ru/zvuk/zvuk.php
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« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2009, 06:58:21 PM »

It must be remembered that works such as Rachmaninov's Vespers, Tchaikovsky's Liturgy, etc, are concert pieces only, and cannot simply be used in their entirety as a Vespers or Liturgy service in an Orthodox church, as they do not conform fully to the structure of these services, and are essentially a "free adaptation" by the composer of these services. These works are the equivalent of the masses of Handel, Bach, and other western composers.

Of course, individual pieces from these works can be, and are, used in a proper Orthodox service.
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« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2009, 07:54:55 PM »

It must be remembered that works such as Rachmaninov's Vespers, Tchaikovsky's Liturgy, etc, are concert pieces only, and cannot simply be used in their entirety as a Vespers or Liturgy service in an Orthodox church, as they do not conform fully to the structure of these services, and are essentially a "free adaptation" by the composer of these services. These works are the equivalent of the masses of Handel, Bach, and other western composers.

Of course, individual pieces from these works can be, and are, used in a proper Orthodox service.

I think you are wrong.  We have used Tchaikovsky's Divine Liturgy (the James C. Meena arrangment) for a whole divine Liturgy and it worked out well.  Just because it is often used today only for entertainment doesn't mean it cannot be restored to its rightful place.  And we continue to use excerpts from it on a fairly regularly basis.
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« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2009, 09:09:13 PM »

Rimsky-Korsakov used several Pascha Hymns in the Russian Easter Overture, but he certainly didn't compose them.
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« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2009, 11:56:58 PM »

One of the reasons that there are so many compositions in the Russian tradition, is that during the Russian empire, graduate students in music were required to compose a setting for the All-night Vigil and the Liturgy as part of their graduate school program.

There are many styles of compositions, some very operatic and western, others from the so-called "National School" were adaptations of traditional chants.

On another tangent, the Georgian church has an ancient tradition of polyphonic chant that typically uses three voices, which move independently. There are many local chants which are quite unique, such as Kartli-Kakhetian chants and Gurian chants. Georgian church music, like the Georgian language, is unrelated to any other Orthodox musical tradition. The Georgian Cherubic Hymn "Romelni Kerubimta.." is absolutely beautiful and almost hypnotic. The reverence for church singing is shown by the fact that singing in church is described by a different word "Galoba" than the word used for secular or folk singing "Imghere". Lord, let me hear the choirs of Gelati and Sameba again !

There are many great recordings of church music available in Georgia; but not many here. If anyone is interested, I have a few books that have collections of Georgian music in modern notation, that I could xerox and share. If anyone is interested, they can e-mail me at my address.

Francis Frost
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« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2009, 04:24:03 AM »

I don't think I would want to hear an entire Vigil/Liturgy of one composer - everything too similar in style and boring.  I sing in a Men's Choir (well, actually three) that is all Slavonic and from the same composer (who also directs), and while it is fine to sing for concerts, I would get bored QUICKLY if I sang with his choir all the time.  He should mix it up.  I have the Capella Romana CD "Lay Aside All Earthly Cares" with everything as compositions from Fr. Sergei Glagolev.  I only like a few tracks - the rest rather bore me.  I need more variety.

Anyway, to Francis and Georgian....

Francis, for a cherubikon, do you mean (melody-wise):
1

2

or

3 (track 2).

This piece also sounds a little like 1 (which I can sing with my priest's two son's as good as any recording out there - actually I think we are better  Wink).
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« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2009, 02:19:14 AM »

Elisha:

I'm not sure I understand your question.

Georgian church singing always has three voices, like the Holy Trinity. They are simply called the first, second and third voices. These parts can be taken by either men, women or both. Cathedral and monastic choirs are usually of one sex; but parish choirs are often mixed, with parishioners singing along. There are often multiple versions of popular hymns. One book has 3 versions of "Kriste Aghsdga" (Christ is Risen). One version of it takes about 5 minutes to sing

There are many local variations of chant, with special characteristics. For example Gurian (Guruli) chants have many dissonances, and sound either very "old" or very "modern". I think of it as mountain shepherd music. Kakhetian chants are very sweet and tender. The largest compilation of music is the Gelati Song book: "Kartuli Galoba" (Gerogian church singing) which contains music for all the ordinary hymns of Vespers, Orthros and Liturgy plus common hymns of the 8 tones and the major Feasts. It is similar to what Russians used to call a "Sbornik"

The version of the Cherubikon I referred to is from "Kartuli Galoba". There are recordings of it by the Rustavi Choir - which are probably the only ones ever available here in the US. My favorite recording is by the Chanters of the Church of St Panteleimon the Healor in Tbilisi. I believe the Georgian Patriarchate has some recordings on its web-site. Patriarch Ilya has composed some setting for hymns (his composition of the Trisagion Hymn is very popular and also very simple). There are also popular or folk hymns sung outside of church, such as Christmas carols called "Alilo".

If there are any musiclogists out there who are interested, I have a copy of the Gelati "Katuli Galoba" and another collection of music with some commentary in German and Georgian called "Georgische Kirchengesange" and I have a small collection of Guruli Hymns and folk songs.

Francis Frost
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« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2009, 04:51:45 AM »

Elisha:

I'm not sure I understand your question.
I thought it was rather straight-forward - are one of the three (melodies - not necessarily Cherubikon) the same or similar to "Romelni Kerubimta" you referenced.

Georgian church singing always has three voices, like the Holy Trinity. They are simply called the first, second and third voices. These parts can be taken by either men, women or both. Cathedral and monastic choirs are usually of one sex; but parish choirs are often mixed, with parishioners singing along.
Yes, I know this.

There are many local variations of chant, with special characteristics. For example Gurian (Guruli) chants have many dissonances, and sound either very "old" or very "modern". I think of it as mountain shepherd music. Kakhetian chants are very sweet and tender. The largest compilation of music is the Gelati Song book: "Kartuli Galoba" (Gerogian church singing) which contains music for all the ordinary hymns of Vespers, Orthros and Liturgy plus common hymns of the 8 tones and the major Feasts. It is similar to what Russians used to call a "Sbornik"

The version of the Cherubikon I referred to is from "Kartuli Galoba". There are recordings of it by the Rustavi Choir - which are probably the only ones ever available here in the US. My favorite recording is by the Chanters of the Church of St Panteleimon the Healor in Tbilisi. I believe the Georgian Patriarchate has some recordings on its web-site. Patriarch Ilya has composed some setting for hymns (his composition of the Trisagion Hymn is very popular and also very simple). There are also popular or folk hymns sung outside of church, such as Christmas carols called "Alilo".

If there are any musiclogists out there who are interested, I have a copy of the Gelati "Katuli Galoba" and another collection of music with some commentary in German and Georgian called "Georgische Kirchengesange" and I have a small collection of Guruli Hymns and folk songs.

Francis Frost
I would be interested if your music is easily available...say, in a big pdf so I can print it easily.  My choir director is an a.b.d (all bud dissertation) from UCLA and has traveled extensively (and arranged and composed a good share).  He has seen a good deal of Georgian music, but practically speaking, says most is way too alien sounding to be of practical use.  While I'm open to almost anything (heck, I'm losing track of all the choirs and albums I've sung on), parishes are not so (except for weekday morning Liturgies where there are not enough to care).
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« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2009, 05:56:30 AM »

About 10 years ago our choirmistress fell in love with the music of Chesnokov and we used it every Sunday, at Liturgy until last year,  Now we have returned to the much less demanding commonly used melodies for the Liturgy.  Us oldies are very happy!   laugh

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pavel_Chesnokov
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« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2009, 06:29:51 AM »

In the GOA there are TONS, and I mean TONS of settings of the Divine Liturgy.  Some of the more famous are guys like Desby, Bogdanos, etc.  I could come up with a whole list if you are interested. 

Also, in the GOA, we have Byzantine Chant, so for every Byzantine composer, they usually have their own Liturgics music.  I don't know how proficient you are in Byzantine chant, or if you're even interested, but I could come up with a list there too (this one would be much more extensive...)

Let me know what you think...
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« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2009, 02:37:20 PM »

Dmitri Bortniansky (Дмитро Степанович Бортнянський )wrote some great Divine Liturgy music.  One of my favourites is his Cherubic Hymn.
Have a listen!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_mKQxgcOrY

Obviously this link isn't sang during a liturgy, but they have one of the singers recite the Great Entrance prayer.  A nice touch versus just hearing a pause and then the second part of the hymn.
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« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2009, 03:47:44 PM »

I think that this was the very first setting of the Cherubimic hymn I ever heard.  It still gives me chills each time!  Thanks for posting that username!
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« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2009, 04:10:03 PM »

I think that this was the very first setting of the Cherubimic hymn I ever heard.  It still gives me chills each time!  Thanks for posting that username!

You are most welcome, it still gives me the chills each time I sing it or here it myself!!  It's probably my favourite setting of the Ize Cheruvimy!
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« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2009, 05:07:12 PM »

Dmitri Bortniansky (Дмитро Степанович Бортнянський )wrote some great Divine Liturgy music.  One of my favourites is his Cherubic Hymn.
Have a listen!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_mKQxgcOrY

Obviously this link isn't sang during a liturgy, but they have one of the singers recite the Great Entrance prayer.  A nice touch versus just hearing a pause and then the second part of the hymn.

You wanna know something really funny...I ALWAYS thought that this was a Serbian rendition, by Mokranjac or something!!   Shocked Shocked Shocked

Never took the time to check it out.  well....you live and you learn.  thanks for posting that! 
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« Reply #16 on: February 02, 2009, 07:35:11 PM »

You are welcome Serb!
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« Reply #17 on: February 02, 2009, 10:29:28 PM »

Elisha:

I apologize for my tardy response. I'm afraid that what I have is not computerized. I have a couple of printed books and some loose manuscripts that I brought back from Georgia. The music is in modern notation, the texts are in Georgian. If you are interested in particular hymn, I could xerox it and mail it to you. Just e-mail me if you are interested. The "Kartuli Galobas" has settings for all the fixed hymns for the Vespers, Orthros and Liturgy, plus the 8 tones and hymns for the major feasts and saints days. Anotehr books has hymns in the "Guruli" style.

I have heard that one of the Georgian parishes in NYC has arranged Georgian melodies to the (OCA)English translations; but I don't know anyone in those communities. You might check with the PSALM on-line organization for contacts.

I'm sorry, I still don't understand your question about the Cherubic Hymn. I'm not a trained musician. I learnd all my music by heart in church. What I meant to say, is that in many, perhaps most, Georgian hymns, the melody doesn't lie in one voice. At various times any one of the three voices may carry the melody, which weaves in and out and through the voices. The only similar style I can recall is Balakirev's Cherubic Hymn, and an old Russian 16th century manuscript, that I think was set to English by Steven Voytovich. I hope this clarify's what I tried to say.

Best wishes,

Francis Frost
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« Reply #18 on: February 03, 2009, 02:24:59 AM »

Elisha:

I apologize for my tardy response. I'm afraid that what I have is not computerized. I have a couple of printed books and some loose manuscripts that I brought back from Georgia. The music is in modern notation, the texts are in Georgian. If you are interested in particular hymn, I could xerox it and mail it to you. Just e-mail me if you are interested. The "Kartuli Galobas" has settings for all the fixed hymns for the Vespers, Orthros and Liturgy, plus the 8 tones and hymns for the major feasts and saints days. Anotehr books has hymns in the "Guruli" style.

I have heard that one of the Georgian parishes in NYC has arranged Georgian melodies to the (OCA)English translations; but I don't know anyone in those communities. You might check with the PSALM on-line organization for contacts.

I'm sorry, I still don't understand your question about the Cherubic Hymn. I'm not a trained musician. I learnd all my music by heart in church. What I meant to say, is that in many, perhaps most, Georgian hymns, the melody doesn't lie in one voice. At various times any one of the three voices may carry the melody, which weaves in and out and through the voices. The only similar style I can recall is Balakirev's Cherubic Hymn, and an old Russian 16th century manuscript, that I think was set to English by Steven Voytovich. I hope this clarify's what I tried to say.

Best wishes,

Francis Frost

Francis,

I think about it.  My choir director was in Georgia briefly twenty years ago, although I'm not sure if his music is from when he was there or from another source.  I'll ask him if he's looking for anything in particular.  I'm on the PSALM yahoo list, but Georgian music rarely comes up.

I would consider myself "semi-trained".  I grew up playing three different instruments (violin, piano and oboe) for a few years each and was always told I had a good ear.  My musical theory should be much better than it is, but I have been singing in various Orthodox choirs (and some non-Orthodox) for over 15 years now, including about seven different recordings (in both English and Slavonic).  I would say that in the dozen pieces I've seen of Georgian music, that the melody is predominantly in the second (middle voice), while the first voice serves as a counter melody and the bottom voice provides some bass-like grounding.

I'll let you know.  Thanks.

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« Reply #19 on: February 08, 2009, 03:27:50 PM »

It must be remembered that works such as Rachmaninov's Vespers, Tchaikovsky's Liturgy, etc, are concert pieces only, and cannot simply be used in their entirety as a Vespers or Liturgy service in an Orthodox church.

Rautavaara's Vigil of St. John the Baptist has been performed in Finnish Orthodox Church services quite frequently, which I think objectionable as the composer is not Orthodox, and in fact has some odd (for liturgical use) musical and spiritual ideas.
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