Fornyelse og tradition i byzantinsk musik og hymnedigtning

Activity: Talk or presentation typesLecture and oral contribution

Christian Troelsgård - Lecturer

Historians of Byzantine chant and hymnography have often followed a basic narrative laid out by scholars such as Christ and Krumbacher. In their view, a classical canon of hymnography consisting of the works by Romanos, Andrew of Crete, Cosmas of Maiuma, and John of Damascus, was the peak of Byzantine hymnographic creativity, a peak which was preceded by earlier, imperfect experiments, and followed only by imitation and degeneration. Is this picture adequate? Are all the pieces that became part of the traditional repertories really unique? And did hymnographic creativity simply stop, once the liturgical calendar had been filled up with chant texts?

This contribution traces developments, transformations, and innovations in pieces of Byzantine chant and hymnography created in the later centuries of the Byzantine era. While the traditional repertories continued to be chanted, also new pieces were composed, demonstrating new attitudes both in the music, as seen in the many new compositions of the ‘kalophonic style', and in the chanted texts. Also a more personal tone than earlier can be heard in the texts, a characteristic that may have been inspired by religious poetry, such as that by "Symeon the New Theologian". This inspiration can also be observed in their metric form, the so-called political verse that came first into use in the tenth century. As late as in the later Palaiologian era, new pieces of hymnography were created by members of both sides in the conflict between adherents and opponents of the union with the Latin Church.

These observations may contribute to a more balanced view of the way the Byzantine hymnographic tradition developed in the tension between conservatism and innovation. Marc D. Lauxtermann's studies on the apparent immutability of Byzantine poetry have inspired the analytical approach of this chapter. Although the liturgical character of chant and hymnography presents substantially different and possibly more restrictive conditions for the creation and transmission of new pieces than those underlying the secular poetry, some of the same dynamics of development seem to be at work. The examples show that the hymnographers and composers of the later centuries of the Byzantine Empire did innovate in their own right - in an ongoing dialogue with ‘tradition'.

6 Jun 2009

Event (Conference)

TitleOrthodoxy and Innovation in the Greek-speaking world from Byzantium to the 21<sup>st</sup> century  Interdisciplinary Symposium of Modern Greek Studies at the Faculty of the Humanities, University of Copenhagen, 5-6 June 2009

ID: 19571741