Original 19th century Russian music leaf, from an Old Believers Hymnal. Eleven lines of manuscript on paper in Church Slavonic with black lettered Cyrillic text beneath an unusual musical notation. Rubrics and headings in red. (sheet: 334 x 203mm – 13 1/8 x 8’’ – text block: 9 ¼ x 5 ¾ ’’)
One elaborate illuminated initial in pink, yellow, green and gold leaf.
Russia (probably “Guslitsy” manuscript school, vicinity of Moscow), c 1820.
This leaf contains music in Znamenny notation with Shaidorov symbols - Znamenny
Chant was the principal music of the Russian Orthodox Church from the time Christianity was imported from Byzantium. In the mid-17th century the Novgorod master Ivan Shaidurov invented a system of auxiliary red letters to be placed alongside the Znamenny notation above the text of the chant. Each of these letters corresponded to a particular note in the church scale, increasing accuracy of the musical score. By the late 18th century Znamenny chant had retreated into obscurity, the only keepers of it being the Old Believers sect, who produced manuscript choir books until about 1905.