(Please follow the link, if you would like to support the petition!)


To the Rector of the University of Copenhagen (prof. Henrik C. Wegener:

To the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Copenhagen (prof. Jesper Kallestrup:

To the Head of the Saxo Institute of the University of Copenhagen (prof. Stuart James Ward:


Dear Sirs,

We are writing to you as the Editorial Board of the Monumenta Musicae Byzantinae, to express our alarm at your proposal to dismiss Prof. Christian Troelsgård from his position as Associate Professor in the Saxo Institute.

The Monumenta Musicae Byzantinae (MMB) was established in Copenhagen in 1935 under the direction of Prof. Carsten Høeg, and quickly became a world-renowned scientific enterprise devoted to the study and publication of Byzantine musical and liturgical sources. The University of Copenhagen has been central to the activities of the MMB ever since. As you are doubtless aware, it houses a comprehensive library and archive which has supported a sustained and highly productive programme of research and publication by a very international body of scholars. Students of the successive directors of the MMB have gone on to secure prestigious positions around the world in the fields of Classics, Byzantine Studies and Musicology. The MMB volumes are published under the auspices of the Union Académique Internationale, with the support of the Carlsberg Foundation and several other funding bodies, and are universally admired for the quality of their research as well as for their high production standards.

In consideration of the worldwide recognised leading role of the MMB in research on Byzantine music and liturgy, we are deeply concerned by the unexpected news that the intense research activities conducted within the MMB project are in serious danger of coming to an abrupt end. We gather that, for reasons of ‘necessary cut-backs’, the University plans in a few weeks to dismiss – after 26 years of honoured service – the MMB Director Prof. Christian Troelsgård, a highly esteemed scholar and teacher, on the vague grounds that his position no longer ‘matches the future development of the Faculty’.

Since Prof. Troelsgård represents the one and only institutional affiliation of the MMB project in Denmark, this would lead to a sudden cessation of all of the MMB’s research activities, which have for more than 80 years been centred in the University of Copenhagen, and to the lamentable dispersal of a whole scholarly tradition that has represented a jewel in the crown of Danish (and European) research in the humanities thoughout this period. In fact, the consequences of this dismissal on research in the field of Byzantine music and chant would be really dramatic, not only in Denmark: the MMB has since its inception been designated as a ‘research enterprise’ under the auspices of the Union Académique Internationale, a status in which it was recently re-accredited, and the dismantling of its leading research unit in Denmark would condemn the whole international project (with partner-scholars in Austria, Italy, Germany, Greece, the United Kingdom, the United States, and many other countries) to a sudden and definitive closure. The MMB has attracted long-term research funding to the University of Copenhagen over many decades, flourishing successively under the leadership of its founder Prof. Carsten Høeg, then Prof. Jørgen Raasted, and especially now under Prof. Troelsgård’s careful and dedicated guidance. The hasty liquidation of a research school that is so well established in the University of Copenhagen would put at stake a unique and important European research tradition.

We are not party to the ‘future development of the Faculty’ on which grounds you propose to dismiss Prof. Troelsgård, but we respectfully remind you that he is universally regarded as a leading scholar in all branches of the study of Byzantine chant, known internationally through his many books and articles of consistently exceptional quality, and widely respected in the University through his co-ordination of several externally-funded research projects and as a member of the Academic Council of the Faculty of Humanities. In Demark he is honoured as a member of the Royal Danish Academy, and internationally he sits on many advisory panels for leading journals and research projects. His graduate students have taken the field of research into many new directions under his careful guidance, and have developed successful careers in many countries, widening interest in the field of Byzantine chant across the world.

Byzantine music should not be considered an exotic and sophisticated research field reserved for the happy few who are engaged in it: it has important repercussions on our understanding of many aspects of the different cultures of the world we live in. The Byzantine chant tradition is the real core of the Orthodox liturgy in Greece, Eastern Europe, Russia, the Balkans, Southern Italy, and the Middle East, and is therefore an important key to our understanding of the mentality of the different peoples living in this wide area. Language, rite and music constitute fundamental aspects of the cultural identity of the Eastern-Mediterranean Christian communities, many of which are now often under threat. Weakening the study of these traditions would lead to an impoverishment of our understanding of this part of world culture, and could also be seen as turning our backs on these populations on a cultural level. In the context of the study and research activities of the Saxo Institute, Prof. Troelsgård’s teaching and research have the potential to make one of the closest and most direct connections between the ancient world and the lives of many of the most marginalised communities of today. Far from being an arcane and obscurantist discipline, Byzantine chant is a field which can inspire students to embrace the study of Classical and Eastern languages, Theology, Music, History, Ethnography and Social Anthropology.

Perhaps it is not a consequence you intended in your proposal to dismiss Christian Troelsgård, but we fear that the result in the sudden annihilation of the research centre which has placed Copenhagen at the centre of this branch of historical enquiry for the best part of the last century would have serious consequences in terms of our understanding of global culture, and not only of European or global academic studies. Therefore we strongly encourage you to reconsider your decision to cut short a career in which we continue to foresee much promising contribution to the wider understanding of society.



Prof. Nicolas BELL (Trinity College, Cambridge)
Prof. Francesco D’AIUTO (University of Rome "Tor Vergata")
Prof. Sysse Gudrun ENGBERG (University of Copenhagen, emerita)
Prof. Christian HANNICK (Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, emeritus)
Prof. Christian THODBERG (University of Aarhus, emeritus)
Prof. Gerda WOLFRAM (University of Vienna, emerita)


Prof. John D. BERGSAGEL (former Director of MMB; University of Copenhagen, emeritus)
Prof. Tore Tvarnø LIND (secretary of MMB; University of Copenhagen)


Useful links

The Saxo Institute:

Homepage of the MMB:

The microfilm collection (and an additional international source catalogue with useful information):

Christian Troelsgård’s permanently updated list of the standard abridged version repertoire of stichera idiomela of the menaion part within the sticherarion (very useful to identify missing parts of a sticherarion manuscript):

The «Cahiers de l'Institut du Moyen-Âge Grec et Latin» (CIMAGL), an available publication series of the Saxo Institute:

Homepage of the related studies of Ottoman music “Corpus Musicae Ottomanicae” (CMO):

Middle Ages and Renaissance manuscripts at the collections of “The Royal Danish Library” (Copenhagen):

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  • Dear Andrea

    You are always welcome also to share your own contributions, because this network lives from them!

    I think this campaign for MMB has been already more successful than most of the initiators expected it (and despite the small number of votes). Right now it is no longer important, because it did already work out.

    I just wrote you about some things which I see more in a long-term perspective. I also was once asked to join a project about Ottoman (Turkish and Greek) music on the island of Heybeliada (Halke), where is also the University of the Ecumenical Patriarchate which is not allowed to teach since the Cyprus crisis. But this initiative did not work out, although the prospective to work in Turkey was not as negative as it is now (due to the negative impact of European policies which moved more and more towards a violation of human rights). When I visited the island, everybody pretended not to have ever heart about it.

    I would appreciate, if academics would become more attentive and active in this respect than wasting their energy to destroy the few which has been left over after three decades of systematic depletion of European education (despite of the obscene abundance of money and resources!).

    We have to work with the young generation, because it is them, into whose eyes these criminals do not any longer dare to look!

  • ok in every case is a very interesting website dedicated to history of ancient music.

    Of course of economy, you are right but my intention is to suggest good ideas for partnership as cultural partnership also..not for the bad.

    I hope the best for this discipline and compliments again for this network that is beautiful.

  • Dear Andrea

    I have many contacts to various colleagues coming from very different disciplines (not all of them are concerned with dead musical traditions) and different countries. Of course, I will do anything possible to save the Monumenta Musicae Byzantinae and similar projects. You can be sure that I made already a lot of suggestions!

    The reason, why I do not believe in a further future for MMB in Copenhagen is, that certain scholars there have already done an irreparable damage to the Saxo Institute. They honestly tried to step back to see, what can be saved, but already from their formulations and words you can easily deduce that they are pretty unaware about anything they have already done.

    I fear they will only understand, when it is definitely too late, also too late to save their own career prospectives!

    The only difference is, that nobody will care about them, as people did still care about MMB (even if they were less than 3000 votes which is a ridiculous number if you compare it with other petitions).

    They regard themselves as business men, but they will never understand that you can only acquire private funds as long as you remain independent (based on public funds). Nowadays people talk about economy, but they have not the clue what it is. That is why they go down the sink! It does not take much phantasy to imagine, as whom they will end up...

  • Hi Oliver. Even this not has not a contextualization for the single case of Monumenta musical byzantinae I know from the website of Gregorian-chant.ning that you are seeking for partners so I have found in the web this...

    "Rema, early music in Europe"

    there is also the possibility to subscribe to newsletter...

    REMA - European Early Music Network - Home
    European Early Music Network
  • Dear Andrea

    Thank you for all this honour. As you can read, the petition was initiated by several colleagues of mine, but not by me. I just passed it on as I do pass on messages communicated by those, who did initiate the petition. You are truly welcome to do the same apart from signing the petition.

    My motive was simply to inform the interested public, because in my experience we all have a very severe duty here.

    Unfortunately, there are too many academics who just go down the sink. They do not leave any trace and they leave no opportunity to any of their younger colleagues to continue their work. The main motives are:

    1) a manipulative abuse of their own power out of selfish motives which make them particular harmful, not just concerning the institutions they are supposed to represent, but also for the future of their country and its continent;

    2) a wrong perception of shame about the fact that they did fail without thinking enough about what and who will follow them. Usually warning and informing the public about desastruous working conditions did a great job to improve these conditions, this is a common experience shared at universities as at schools! If you are not willing to risk the reputation of a certain institution in order to change something for the better, you do fail indeed (even if the motive is just mediocrity).

    As you can see Christian Troelsgård is not part of this problem, because he set both aside!

  • In any case i remain open to. collaborate
  • I think that my comment is clear. Advocacy means that an association can play a sensibilization and people recruiting role for csuses ( as for example the petition that you are doing for monumentae historicae byzantinae.
  • I do not understand what do you mean with advocacy.

    Anybody who is inscribed in a social network or has an email address, can spread the message. Whether within or without the Baltic context... You do not need any further privileges. Anybody who would like to found a group, can do it. That is, how Ning works! It has nothing in common with certain neo-feudal structures of academic institutions.

    The letter is not by me, but by those who initiated the petition (you find the names at the end). You do not even need to mention my name (not even for the link list)!

    Byzantine music and Orthodox chant is matter of world heritage and the base of manyfold research (whether historical or ethnomusicological), probably not of certain disciplines whose protagonists are proud of being ignorant.

    Today, the latter has become a common attitude (some decades ago scholars were not that shameless, I mean knowing about the own limits of knowledge, which is always the very beginning of science, was perceived as a necessity to look for interdisciplinary collaboration), but it is a natural consequence for those Philistine institutions that they do claim nowadays, that they are excellent. It does not take too much intelligence to understand that they are not! And it can happen everywhere, even in Copenhagen...

    “He can continue his Byzantine chant research activities” does not only mean that the new leaders have not the clue, what the Saxo Institute was about since 1931, they also do not respect the work as a whole which had been done there (whether by Christian Troelsgård or anybody else before him). It is a logic consequence that they will end up neglected, in exactly the same way they did neglect the work of their own colleagues during the last months. It is like the wheel of fortune by François Villon, that Dominique posted around some weeks ago!

  • I think is a good suggestion, the concept that I have written to you in the precedent post. But you must have contact in some baltic museums ( into or out balticmuseums.ning website, or someone who knows them).
  • Yes the link could be with contacts that your circle of contacts could have in northern europe, political. If this monumentale bizantinae is located in denmark, baltic museums are in baltic ( so potentially connected both gepgraphically both tematically as Museum with the cause of monunentae musicae byzantine). But you should have contacts in that website to get an action of ADVOCACY.
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