A historical and contextual examination of Alexandre Gretchaninoff's Second Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Opus 29



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Texas Tech University


Known for its a cappella style as mandated by the church. Russian liturgical music remained relatively undeveloped and largely unknown outside of Russia until the late nineteenth century when the onset of several crucial events led to the development of a rich choral style that continued until the 1917 Revolution. Among many composers who contributed sacred choral works in the period, Alexandre Gretchaninoff (1864-1956) emerged as both a leading composer and spokesman for the new school. His Second Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. Opus 29. completed in 1902. presented a more stylistically unified musical form than ever before with individual movements that were developed into unprecedented formal schemes. Although some movements from the work have been appreciated and performed in English translations b\ American choirs through most of the twentieth century, including "Our Father." "Come. Let I's Worship." and "Only Begotten Son," a close examination of the original work, focusing on issues of performance practice relating to its historical and contextual status, reveals greater aesthetic merit than has been recognized. For the contextual examination, several primary sources were discovered, translated, and analyzed. An article submitted by Gretchaninoff to the Moskovskie Vedomosti (.Moscow daily newspaper) in 1900 generated responses from his opponents in the form of a published debate that included two subsequent articles by the composer defending and clarifying his position. The articles are presented in their entirety, along with an essay written by the composer in 1932 that is hou.sed in the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, titled "Brief 1932 that is housed in the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. titled "Brief Review of the Development of Orthodox Church Singing." The translated primary sources provide valuable information concerning details of performance practice, the perspectives of both Gretchaninoff and his critics on liturgical music, the development of Gretchaninoff s sacred choral style, and the reputation of Gretchaninoff as a composer and spokesman for the new Russian choral school. Finally, a thorough review and representational analysis of the Second Liturgy' is presented in context of later prerevolutionary works. This study culminates with practical suggestions for performance of the Second Liturgy springing from examination of the historical and contextual status of the work.



Grechaninov, Aleksandr Tikhonovich, 1864-1956 -- Criticism and interpretation, Grechaninov, Aleksandr Tikhonovich, 1864-1956 -- Correspondence, Grechaninov, Aleksandr Tikhonovich, 1864-1956. Liturgii͡a Sv. Ioanna Zlatousta, op. 29, John Chrysostom, Saint, -407 -- Musical setting, Orthodox Eastern Church -- Liturgy -- 19th century -- History, Choruses, Sacred (Mixed voices), Unaccompanied, Orthodox music -- 19th century -- Criticism and interpretation, Choral music -- Analysis, appreciation, Choral music -- Russia