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Edice Pro Oriente

Tntesean and the Music of the Armenian Hymnal

Haig Utidjian

This monograph documents Haig Utidjian’s research of recent years on the formation of the extant melodies of the Armenian Hymnal on the basis of the corpus of writings and transcriptions of the nineteenth-century Constantinopolitan musician and musicologist Ełia Tntesean (1834–1881). It serves to position the study of the nineteenth-century transcriptions of the melodies of the Armenian Hymnal on a substantially new basis, analysing particularly the manner in which the mediaeval neumatic notation was exploited in redacting the melodies that came to be recorded in the Limōnčean notational system. Instances are identified where Tntesean appears to have departed from his own avowed theoretical principles, choosing to afford precedence to implicit aesthetic criteria, as well as reflecting the influence of the quasi-improvisatory procedures of the time. Attention is also drawn to the valuable information that may be drawn from apparent idiosyncrasies in the deployment of the Limōnčean notation.

This study is a major advance towards a fuller understanding of the manner in which the extant melodies of the Armenian Hymnal came to be constituted, and is set to stimulate a new wave of research on the music of the Armenian Hymnal and the notational systems that were employed to record it. It is enhanced by comparisons with other versions of the Hymnal from the same period, the investigation of parallels with the neighbouring practice of Ottoman makams, as well as fieldwork involving the surviving remnants of the oral tradition. It is also the first to give Tntesean his due as the greatest Armenian musicologist of the modern era.

‘A meticulous and deeply insightful study… Drawing on an unprecedented range of sources with formidable scholarship and intellectual curiosity, Utidjian’s study offers the reader a clear-sighted account...’

Jacob Olley, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

‘A beautiful and impressive book… I read it with infinite joy… This is a singular piece of work… 242 valuable pages brimming with exhaustive musical analyses and comparative evaluations… an admirable study, presented with method, lucidity and technical expertise.’

Krikor Pidedjian, Komitas State Conservatoire of Yerevan

Počet stran228
Typpevná vazba
Rok vydání2017
Rozměry145 x 205 mm

Haig Utidjian, PhD, MSc(DIC), CAS(GSMD) was educated at the Universities of Sussex, London and Cambridge, at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in the UK (where he was the recipient of the Ricordi Conducting Prize), at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, and by means of private consultations with Lothar Zagrosek, Carlo Maria Giulini, Vilém Tauský and Josef Kuchinka. He is a professional orchestral and opera conductor and choirmaster of wide experience. He currently serves as Chief Conductor and Chorus Master of the Orchestra and Chorus of Charles University in Prague.

In his native Cyprus, he was a pupil of Archbishop Zareh Aznaworean of blessed memory, and was ordained to the diaconate of the Armenian Church in the year 2000. His research includes work on systems of notation, points of interaction between the Armenian, Byzantine and Ottoman musical traditions, and on new critical editions of the odes of St. Gregory of Narek and of Dvořák’s Mass in D (for the publishing house of Bärenreiter Praha). He curated the Exhibition ‘They who imbibed the effusions of the Spirit: The Art of the Armenian Book through the Ages, held at the Klementinum in Prague in 2016.

He serves on the editorial boards of a number of academic journals and holds an Honorary Affiliation at the Faculty of Philosophy and Arts of Charles University in Prague. Haig Utidjian was recently decorated with the Komitas medal by the Republic of Armenia for his contributions to music and musicology, and with the Yakob Mełapart medal by the National Library of Armenia.

Ivan Moody - Haig Utidjian, Tntesean and the Music of  the Armenian Hymnal

(Pro Oriente Volume 43), Pavel Mervart 2017, ISBN 978-80-7465-304-9, 228 pp.

Haig Utidjian, who is both musicologist and practising liturgical musician, has, over the past decade or so, established himself as probably the leading scholar in Armenian sacred musicology, with an enviable list of publications to his name. He has also published much of his work in English, thereby making accessible an entire world of chant and liturgy which would otherwise have passed under the radar of most Western scholars.

The present book is no exception, and indeed, in the Tntesean Hymnal it discusses something that even Armenian scholars have not examined closely until now. Utidjian’s Introduction provides an historical overview of the hymnody of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church and the problems raised by the increasing inaccessibility of notation to cantors in combination with the reversion to an oral tradition, something that the early nineteenth-century musicians Hambarjum Limōnčean and Fr Minas Bžškean attempted to remedy by recording at least some of the repertoire in print, though (or, rather, because) they were confronted by a bewildering variety of earlier transcriptions, retranscriptions and recompositions.

The Tntesean Hymnal itself is the work of the Constantinopolitan musician Elia Tntesean (1834-1881), and adopts a different approach, in that it looks to the mediaeval repertoire as part of the establishing of Tntesean’s own notational system. A useful guide is provided to the background of this work, and the polemics associated with its publication, before a highly useful list of neumes, essential for understanding the detail of Utidjian’s subsequent discussion. Thus there follows a chapter on the characteristics of the hymnal itself as regards notation and pitch, the implications for performance practice and Tntesean’s fascinating views on the commonalities between Armenian sacred melodies and the Ottoman maqams (something he recognized but which he found to have been used to an exaggerated extent by a number of church musicians), and much detail concerning variants, musical and metrical approaches, verbal underlay, and the exact contents of the hymnal and implications of the choice to leave certain hymns out of notate them incompletely – “But the fact that it is not complete means that it cannot be considered to be self-sufficient from a liturgical point of view. The matter is of sufficient gravity as to warrant special investigation […]” (p. 92)

That special investigation is taken up further on, with discussion of how to complete the hymnal, but only after the author has made an essential and detailed examination, in Sections 5 and 6, Tntesean’s practice as regards transcription and the consistency or otherwise of his neumatic practice, by means of analysis of combinations of neumes, the treatment of neumatic sequences and other related questions. As Utidjian notes in his conclusion, “We have seen that Tntesean ‘processed’ or even ‘constructed’ melodies in many cases, rather than transcribing whatever he heard; but whilst engaging in such procedures, he was not always entirely consistent in the application of his own principles.” (p. 207). That phrase alone should give the reader an idea of the momentous task that has been attempted here; that it manages to be not only a (beautifully presented) detailed musicological monograph but a text of great fascination and suggestiveness is a tribute both to Haig Utidjian’s palpable musical enthusiasm and his scholarly rigorousness.

(Journal of the International Society for Orthodox Church Music, Vol. 7:1 (2023), Section IV: Reviews, pp. 76–77, ISSN 2342-1258, https://doi.org/10.57050/jisocm.129814)

Edice Pro Oriente