Catalogo dei manoscritti musicali greci del SS. Salvatore di Messina

Bucca, Donatella
Biblioteca Regionale Universitaria di Messina
Anzahl Seiten
LXXXII, 470 S., 60 Faksimile-S.
Rezensiert für H-Soz-Kult von
Oliver Gerlach, Neapel

Most of the catalogues of the three main libraries containing sources of Italo-Byzantine chant – they are the relevant libraries at the Vatican, at Grottaferrata and at Messina – are so cumbersome to use that scholars have tended to rely instead on some descriptive essays by Lorenzo Tardo1 and on the catalogue by Antonio Rocchi.2 This new catalogue, prepared by Donatella Bucca, remedies the situation in regard to the library at Messina. The manuscripts of the new Archimandritate of SS. Salvatore founded by Roger II in 11323 contain the liturgical texts and the musical notation of the Byzantine chant for the monastic liturgy as well as for the representative cathedral rite.

As Bucca's title indicates, her book deals with music manuscripts only. Nearly half of it (pp. 235–467) consists of an appendix with a schedule of the minor "menologion" based on a comparison of 8 lectionaries (pp. 236–283), 60 pages in facsimile (12 in color), a hymnological index of text incipits, a biblical index, and an analytical index. In addition to the "menologion" table, there is a corresponding index of the "synaxary" incipits of Ms. 52 (pp. 391–92) – they are the lives of the saints as they had to be read between the sixth and the seventh "ode of the canon" during the morning services.4 References are included to other scholars' repertoire-lists for the "sticherarion" and "kontakarion"5; the author has also provided her own list.

The main part of the book describes 23 music manuscripts, and draws upon a chronological classification of three kinds of Byzantine notation: 1) Ekphonetic notation (pp. 3–42) – ten lectionaries written between the 10th and the 12th century: nine gospel pericopes and one prophetologion for readings from the Old Testament. 2) Old Byzantine notation (pp. 43–160) – six manuscripts from the 12th century, including two complete "sticheraria" (one of Sicilian, the other of Calabrian origin; the other four manuscripts contain parts of the "sticherarion"; one "menaion" is partly a "menologion" as well). 3) Middle Byzantine notation (pp. 161–234) – seven manuscripts, including a "sticherarion" of the 13th century and an "exodiastikon" of the late 13th century (a manuscript which contains also some funeral rites of Byzantine Italy); the other five manuscripts are chant books of the cathedral rite.6 One Italian anthology from the 16th century clearly does not pertain to the Italian tradition. A 14th-century "anthology of the Asma" contains the soloist parts of a cherubim chant as performed during the reign of Frederick II.7

For each manuscript the author describes its contents (including the authors, composers, and the echos), its characteristic kind of musical notation, its material, binding and fascicle structure, its foliation, its style of hand-writing, its page-design (with references to the illuminations) and its history. Bucca provides also a number of "observations" (referring for example to certain issues related to the manuscript's bibliographical references).

This excellent catalogue would have been even more useful if it had covered liturgical manuscripts without musical notation like euchologies and typika. Bucca has nevertheless provided, for readers unfamiliar with Byzantine notation (among them many musicologists who will be duly grateful), an introductory account (pp. xlvii–lxiv) of ekphonetic notation and of the development of the "round notation" which was the medium of the Stoudites reform in the volumes of the "sticherarion" (this is the "menaion", "triodion", "pentekostarion", and "oktoechos", "parakletike").8

The introduction includes also an historical account (pp. lxiv–lxxiv) of the manuscripts, showing that only a few of them belong clearly to the Norman Archimandritate. They reflect an increasing activity of Italo-Byzantine scribes during the Norman period, yet also an interest in importing manuscripts from Constantinople.9

In 1696 the books of smaller Sicilian and Calabrian monasteries near Messina had been transferred to the library of the Archimandritate, and the collection thus included 175 manuscripts and two liturgical rolls. The new collection combined the older monastic tradition of the Italo-Byzantine abbeys which was very unique with the more representative collection of the 13th-century Archimandritate which rather followed trends of Constantinople. This explains why some of the manuscripts are older than the Archimandritate SS. Salvatore, and why only half of the musical manuscripts described in the catalogue were written in Italian scriptoria.

Bucca's introduction does not include an historical account of the Archimandritate SS. Salvatore. Charles V (1500–1558) had the original convent and its cathedral torn down in order to make room for fortifications of the port, and so the Archimandritate had to be rebuilt at another location. And then in 1679 many of the manuscripts were dispersed, in the aftermath of a revolt of Messina, to libraries elsewhere.10 An account of the prior holdings of the library of the Archimandritate would require a study of manuscripts conserved today in collections in Madrid, Toledo, Rome, Genoa, Oxford and London.

This catalogue will soon become as an important handbook as those by Jørgen Raasted and by Christian Thodberg11, and will leave us wishing to have something similar for the relevant collections at Grottaferrata Abbey and in the Vatican Library.

1 Lorenzo Tardo, I codici melurgici della Vaticana e il contribuito alla musica bizantina del monachismo greco della Magna Grecia, in: Archivio storico per la Calabria e la Lucania 1 (1931), pp. 225–248; Idem, I manoscritti greci di musica bizantina nella Biblioteca Universitaria di Messina, in: Archivio storico per la Calabria e la Lucania 23 (1954), pp. 188–201; Diane Touliatos-Banker, Check List of Byzantine Musical Manuscripts in the Vatican Library, in: Manuscripta 31 (1987), pp. 22–27.
2 Antonio Rocchi, Codices cryptenses, seu Abbatiae Cryptae Ferratae in Tusculano digesti et illustrati, Tusculani 1883.
3 See the rule (typikon) of the first Archimandrite Luke of Messina (Ms. mess. gr. 115): John Thomas / Angela Constantinides Hero (ed.), Byzantine Monastic Foundation Documents, vol. 2, Washington D.C. 2000, pp. 637–648. Available at: <> (02.09.2013).
4 The menology is incomplete (from 13 September until 7 January), but its Palestine-Cypriote origin made it worth to create a proper index for further investigations, because it contains several martyrs of Palestinian and Persian origin who are not part of the "Constantinopolitan menologion".
5 Christian Troelsgård, A Handlist of the 'Standard Abridged Version' (SAV) of the Sticherarion according to Oliver Strunk, Copenhagen 2003. Available at: <> (02.09.2013); Christian Thodberg, Der byzantinische Alleluiarionzyklus: Studien im kurzen Psaltikonstil, Copenhagen 1966.
6 The combination of the soloist's (psaltikon) and the choir book (asmatikon) is very unique, and points at scribes of Messina: Donatella Bucca, Quattro testimoni manoscritti della tradizione musicale bizantina nell'Italia meridionale del secolo XIII, in: Musica e storia 1 (2000), pp. 145–168. Available at: <> (02.09.2013).
7 Neil Moran when transcribing the "cherouvikon asmatikon" found the part of the soloist which is usually missing in the choirbooks in the compilation of Ms. messan. gr. 161 (ff. 72–73): Neil K. Moran, The Ordinary Chants of the Byzantine Mass, vol. 2, Hamburg 1975, pp.108-128. He dated the 4 processional antiphona after the first colon back to the time of Frederick II: The Musical 'Gestaltung' of the Great Entrance Ceremony in the 12th century in accordance with the Rite of Hagia Sophia, in: Jahrbuch der Österreichischen Byzantinistik 28 (1979), pp. 167–193. Donatella Bucca dated this manuscript now back to the 14th century, despite of the old-fashioned notation style (p. 233). Possibly this compilation was a later copy of a Greek chant book for the use at the Palatine chapel at Palermo, when King Frederick II resided there.
8 Christian Troelsgård has argued that the composers and reformers of 13th- and 14th-century Constantinople did not invent new signs, but simply continued the synthesis of the Stoudios Monastery in an alternative yet remarkably artistic way differing from the monastic way of Byzantine Italy: Christian Troelsgård, A New Introduction to the Middle Byzantine Musical Notation, Copenhagen 2011, pp. 28f.
9 With respect to the Cypriote and Italian provenance, Bucca refers the local classification of the manuscripts made by Paul Canart and Julien Leroy: Les manuscrits en style de reggio - Étude paléographique et codicologique, in: Jean Glénisson / Jacques Bompaire / Jean Irigoin (eds.), Actes du colloque international sur la paléographie grecque et byzantine, Paris 1977, pp. 241–261.
10 Although Donatella Bucca mentions studies of certain Vatican manuscripts with inventaries of the contemporary collection in order to compare historical with current inventary numbers (on pp. lxviif), she does not mention the political context behind them.
11 Thodberg, Studien im kurzen Psaltikonstil, Copenhagen 1966; Jørgen Raasted, Intonation Formulas and Modal Signatures in Byzantine Musical Manuscripts, Copenhagen 1966.

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