Greek European Culture

Music, Orthodox Christianity, Russia

Russian ecclesiastical chants of the medieval period

By Sylvain Rey

Professor Anatoli Viktorovich Konotop is a musicologist and has been working for 35 years on deciphering and transcribing ancient Russian ecclesiastical chants as they were sung in monasteries in the 16-17th centuries, before the liturgical reforms of the 18th century. These monophonic chants, very close to their Byzantine models yet distinct, are a far cry indeed from the polyphonic chants used in contemporary Russian churches. You can listen to samples here.


  1. (Much) more western than Byzantine, they seem to me. In this respect the polyphony that followed is a rather natural development.

  2. These manuscripts in fact date from the very end of the 16th century, which shows that there may already have been transformations at work. We shouldn’t forget also that working with ancient manuscripts almost always leaves room for at least a little personal interpretation.