Professor Archdeacon Sebastian Babu-Bucur PhD is one of the most prominent representatives of Romanian Byzantology with a tireless activity spreading throughout different fields – research, psalmic musical creation, teaching, performing. Our study focuses briefly on several of the researcher’s achievements, some of his main concerns having been the Romanianisation process of the church chant in the 18th century and the manuscripts elaborated by Romanians. We highlighted the merits of the Byzantinist musicologist who contributed to the discovery of most of the Romanian manuscript no. 61 in the Romanian Academy Library, who tracked down and catalogued over 250 Romanian manuscripts to be found in the libraries from Mount Athos, who demonstrated through documenta and transcripta editions the significance of the activity of various Romanian psalm readers whose contribution to the translation of chants in Romanian had been, up to that moment, almost unknown. Archdeacon Sebastian Babu-Bucur’s tireless work as a researcher of Byzantine music contributes to a better knowledge and understanding of the evolution of this type of music in the 18th and the 19th century and leads the way towards new investigations in the years to come.
The journal Biserica Ortodoxă Română [The Romanian Orthodox Church] was founded on November 17, 1873, at the initiative of Romania’s Primate Metropolitan Nifon Rusailă (1789-1875). The aim of the publication – whose first issue was launched on October 1, 1874 – was to inform the clergy and believers about the activity of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church. In the 146 years since the publication of its first issue, the journal’s contributors have included outstanding personalities of the Romanian Orthodoxy, such as Priest-Professors Dumitru Stăniloae, Ioan G. Coman, Ene Branişte, Liviu Stan, Mircea Păcurariu, Ion Bria a.o. Church music was present in the journal’s pages both through articles, studies and reviews, and through scores of choral or psaltic works written by Church servants among whom Bishop Melchisedec Ștefănescu of Roman at the end of the 19th century, or Deacon Grigore Panțiru, Professor Nicolae Lungu, Priest-Professor Gheorghe Șoima, Archd. Sebastian Barbu-Bucur, Ph.D., Priest-Professors Constantin Drăgușin, Nicu Moldoveanu, Alexie Buzera a.o. in the 20th century. This paper summarizes these contributions and shows how the change of political regime in mid-20th-century Romania influenced the topics of the articles and the religious musical works published in the journal of the Romanian Patriarchate.
Written in the year of Romania’s centennial anniversary as a national state, this paper intends to offer a panorama of the monodic music of Byzantine tradition of the period, composed by the Romanian chanters. Although the entire twentieth century was characterized by the harmonization of the already established church chants, the musical works written in neumatic notation specific to the Orthodox Church continue to exist, albeit discontinuously. Based on the political changes that occurred in the Romanian society, three distinct periods of psaltic music creation can be distinguished: a. 1918-1947; b.1948-1989; c.1990-2018. The first period coincides with the last stage of the process of “Romanianization” of church chants. The second one corresponds to the communist period and is marked by the Communist Party’s decisions regarding the Church, namely the attempt to standardise the church chants. After 1990, psaltic music regains its position and the compositions of the last two decades enrich its repertoire with new collections of chants. Thus, we can see that in the course of a century marked by political turmoil and changes, psaltic composition went on a hiatus in the first decades of the totalitarian regime, to gradually resurge after 1980, enriched with numerous works bearing a distinct Romanian stamp.