Musicologie Médiévale

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Nikola Antonov with Gregorios Papaemmanouil, Archon Protopsaltes at the Patriarchate of Alexandria,
at the klir of the Rila Monastery

I would like to welcome a new inscribed member here: Nikola Antonov. According to my opinion he is one of the most promising protagonists of the living tradition of Bulgarian Orthodox Chant.

Cherouvikon in Glas 1, a rare composition by Neofit Rilski (educational reformer, Abbot at Rila, Professor for Old Church Slavonic at the University of the Patriarchate on the island of Halke)

Many singers in Bulgaria ask him to leave for them a recording of a certain piece of the Bulgarian repertoire. You can find them all at his youtube channel, where he also published some of his lessons, important historical recordings of Bulgarian singers and his own contributions:

He has also channels at soundcloud and spotify, and an account at for his written publications:

Please visit also his personal homepage where you find current news and the published material structured:

Tags: Bulgaria, Slavica

Views: 227

Replies to This Discussion

Dear Oliver, thank you for the kind introduction I did not expect.


It is my pleasure!

By the way, what happened to all the recordings made of Ivan Kaikov?

The Bulgarian Academy of Science forced me to take them down due to producer's rights violations.

Oliver Gerlach said:

It is my pleasure!

By the way, what happened to all the recordings made of Ivan Kaikov?

I even learnt chant in Bulgaria, but I did not even know the name Ivan Kaikov, before you published these recordings.

They should be grateful for the publicity and do something about these precious recordings...

Coming from Ivan Kaikov whose way of singing was very close to the school of Iakovos Nafpliotis, you also pointed at a different intonation of the legetos scale with respect to Patriarch Neofit who published his interpretation of Neofit Rilsky's Heirmos kalophonikos Се покаѧніѧ ѹчителѧ on his CD. Another difference is that you sing this piece with an own teretismos which has been found in a manuscript of Neofit Rilsky’s monastery:

Other extracts can be found at the announcement of your new CD:

Yes, Oliver, you are right about Kaikov, his chanting style is very close to Nafpliotis and that is something amazing for me, a true evidence for the origin of our tradition.

I was really upset because of the BAS claims. I'm keeping the files of course, but I can't share them publicly. 


It was partly my fault, because I started the discussion about Ivan Kaikov at Psaltologion (I would not have chosen this forum, because despite of its many members there is hardly anyone here who is seriously interested in the Bulgarian tradition).

On the other hand, it is part of our job. We are not surprised about such copyright claims, but usually you are better adviced to choose the right person at the Academy of Sciences before you publish it, because one should actually work together, and even a “neutral” publication at youtube or soundcloud can be abused by third parties (even by these companies). Less risky, but also less popular, is vimeo, where you can define your own rights about the material (which is basically none in your case).

Nevertheless, if you follow here the tag “Bulgaria”, you will find even an entry with koledari songs which also has some links to the amazing folk archive of the Bulgarian Academy. You have to do these things in a professional way. Some weeks ago it worked, right now it does not. You can never be sure...

I think Neofit Rilsky is a very particular case in Bulgarian history. The present-day state did not exist yet and seminaries run by the Ecumenical Patriarchate cared about Orthodox Christians (the “nation” addressed as γένος, not ἐθνή) using the Greek language, they needed someone of his competences who was well instructed in the philologies of both languages (Koiné/modern Greek, Old Church Slavonic/Bulgarian), and he founded the first seminaries (boy schools) to introduce into Old Church Slavonic and teaching in modern Bulgarian.

On the other hand, he accepted the Ecumenical Patriarchate also as an authority for monodic chant. While he was at Constantinople he had contacts to Phanariotes like the Archon Protopsaltes Konstantinos Vyzantios (he did an Old Church Slavonic translation of the latters early edition of the Typikon of the Great Church), and he must also have had an exchange about church singing (psaltic art). His composition of the heirmos used Old Church Slavonic (the second part about his heirmos dedicated to the founder-patron of the Rila monastery Ioan/Ivan Rilski was just a quotation of an Old Church Slavonic theotokion / bogorodičen, now adressed to Ioan) used a prototype composed in echos legetos by Petros Bereketis (a rather modern than traditionalist composer among the Phanariotes, but very popular concerning this “modern/secular=para-liturgical” genre) about the first ode of the first heirmos in echos devteros (although according to the New Method legetos was regarded as a melos of echos tetartos). Anyway Konstantinos was in no way convinced by the New Method (still about 1850), he continued to write chant manuscripts with an even more limited use of exegetic notation than the generation of Petros Peloponnesios (1770es)...

These lines are meant less for you, but we have to explain here your work. The currently used print edition (by Manasiy Pop Todorov) has hardly any teretismata (it is not common today, where even the Sunday and the Bishop cycle of the cherouvika, still printed by the editor, is hardly known by any singer in Bulgaria nowadays, although for representative ceremonies, when the monasteries receive many guests, they could be useful to accompany the processions of the local abbot). The heirmos by Neofit was not printed with the teretismos composed by him, but a more recent edition has it and your recording is also meant to teach other singers in Bulgaria, how to sing it. It is meant as an encouragement to work harder and to get involved more profoundly to the own tradition.

In that sense, if we had a more modern copyright which regarded the field of Bulgarian church music as the rightful owner of these rights, it would be easier to authorise you as someone who has many merits, but also the Academy is obliged to act as an advocate for the national heritage. Many Bulgarians do wonder, why so few has been done during the last decades to make these historical recordings available again.

Fotis Yanakakis is visiting Sofia during Christmas days

I would like to recommend a visit of Fotis Yanakakis in Sofia during the Christmas season 2019. Nikola Antonov was so kind to document it for us:

  1. Hesperinos psalm (140:2 κύριε ὲκέκραξα / да ис правится) in echos devteros with Christmas stichos, Doxastikon for Nativity Αὐγούστου μοναρχήσαντος (SAV 349, Nativity of Christ) in echos devteros with parts in Koiné and parts in Old Church Slavonic
  2. Cherouvikon in echos devteros
  3. ἐπὶ Σοι χαίρει, Κεχαριτωμένη in echos protos
  4. Nativity kanon (katavasion) in echos protos in Koiné and Old Church Slavonic
  5. Other Orthros chant like pasapnoarion, Ps 148:2 and Doxologion in echos protos
  6. Baptesimal hymn ὅσοι εἰς τὸν χριστὸν Елицы во Христа in echos protos
  7. Cherouvikon in echos protos
  8. Panagiotes Halacoǧlu's heirmos kalophonikos Ἔφρυξε γῆ (echos plagios protos, makam acem)
  9. Recital Lecture in Greek (with Bulgarian translation) about psaltic art and patriarchal hyphos
  10. Troparion for Sunday after Nativity in glas 2, stichos "na chvalite" (about aineite) in glas 4, Doxastikon Кровь и огнь (SAV 389) in glas 8 

Please do not forget that personal exchange and non-virtual presence is required to pass a tradition on!

The cultural diversity is at stake, whatever the UN try to tell you...



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