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The Bells of Russia

The Bells of Russia: History and Technology

Edward V. Williams
Copyright Date: 1985
Pages: 298
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  • Book Info
    The Bells of Russia
    Book Description:

    This generously illustrated book records the story of Russia's bells--the thousands of awe inspiring instruments that gave voice to the visual splendors of Russian Orthodoxy and to the political aspirations of the tsars.

    Originally published in 1986.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5463-9
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xiii)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
    Edward V. Williams
  7. Author’s Explanatory Notes
    (pp. xix-xx)
  8. Part I Early Instruments of Convocation

    • 1 Voices of Ancient Trumpets
      (pp. 3-9)

      In Leningrad on the granite embankment of Vasilevsky Island opposite the Academy of Arts, two Egyptian sphinxes flank a landing stage whose steps descend into the Neva (figure 1). Brought to St. Petersburg from Thebes in the spring of 1832, this pair of sphinxes had guarded the entrance to a temple that Amenhotep III had built near the Nile at the beginning of the fourteenth century B.C.¹ Beneath the desert sun, these syenite creatures had once heard the bellowing of royal trumpets. Then, after more than three millennia in Egypt, they reached St. Petersburg during the final century of the...

    • 2 Holy Wood and Holy Iron
      (pp. 10-19)

      At the end of the sixth or beginning of the seventh century John Climacus in Scala paradisi (Kλīμαξ τού παραδείσου) speaks of signals for convocation from “the spiritual trumpet” (ἡ πυευατιχήαάλπιγξ).¹ By this expression he implies that some other instrument of convocation had already displaced the trumpet on Sinai, and further suggests that the newer instrument had also absorbed something of the trumpet’s sonic and symbolic essence. Rainer Stichel may be correct in assuming that a wooden beam or board was in use in Egypt as early as the fourth century.² Two passages in the fourth-centuryvitaof Pachomius mention...

    • 3 Bells in the Medieval World
      (pp. 20-28)

      The earliest known reference to the use of a bell as a signal for Christian convocation appears about 535 in a letter that Fulgentius Ferrandus, a deacon in Carthage, wrote to his friend Eugippius, abbot of a monastery near Naples.¹ A bell (campana), Ferrandus advises, would considerably facilitate Eugippius’ task of calling his monks to daily services:

      During all the hours that are set aside for appropriate prayers, you are not only permitted but also have time to be presented to the divine countenances [i.e., to pray]. Only you yourself do not practice this alone but call many others to...

  9. Part II Bells in Russian History

    • 4 The Rise of Bells in Russia
      (pp. 31-43)

      The thousand-year reign of bells in Russia has unfolded in six stages of historical, cultural, and industrial development. The presence of bells and bell ringing in Kievan Russia is first recorded in the mid-eleventh century. Then between 1237 and 1241 the Mongol invasion marked the beginning of the second epoch. After two and a half centuries of Oriental suzerainty, and contemporaneous with Ivan III’s declaration of independence from Mongol authority in 1480, Ridolfo Fioravanti introduced Western technology to bell founding in Muscovy and launched the third period in the history of Russian bells. In the sixteenth century the rate of...

    • 5 Bells in Muscovite Russia
      (pp. 44-56)

      On July 11, 1613, Mikhail Fedorovich Romanov, newly crowned Tsar of All the Russias, was escorted in momentous procession from the Uspensky Cathedral across the Kremlin’s central square beneath a baldaquin of wildly ringing bells. For three days other bells throughout the capital joined the joyous zvon from the Kremlin to proclaim the coronation of a new sovereign and the advent of a new dynasty.¹ Unwittingly this zvon also rang in a new age in Russian bell founding. European and Russian founders at the Moscow Cannon Yard had cast magnificent bells and cannon throughout the sixteenth century. They had learned...

    • 6 Bells in Imperial Russia
      (pp. 57-66)

      Hostilities with Sweden in the Great Northern War at the very beginning of the eighteenth century had drastically curtailed Russia’s supply of iron and copper ore from that country, its principal source. To tap new deposits of these ores in the Urals and Siberia, Peter the Great (1682-1725) put renewed energy into promoting the eastward settlement of workers, a policy introduced during the reigns of his predecessors.¹ This vigorous development of the country’s resources took on new urgency when as a result of their disastrous rout at Narva on November 19, 1700, the Russians retreated and abandoned their artillery to...

  10. Part III Russian Encounters with the West

    • 7 Tower Clocks
      (pp. 69-80)

      The curtain falls on the final scene of Nikolaj Pogodin’s playThe Kremlin Chimeswith Lenin’s prophecy as he listens in his study to clock bells in the Kremlin’s Spasskij Gate: “Do you hear? They are playing. This is a great thing. When everything has been realized that we are now only dreaming of, arguing over, worrying about, they will be reckoning new time, and that time will be witness to new plans for electrification, new dreams, new daring.”¹ Throughout his play Pogodin uses Lenin’s repair of the Spasskij clock and its mechanism, damaged in October of 1917, as a...

    • 8 Tuned Bells in Imperial Russia
      (pp. 81-94)

      The carillon developed in the Low Countries in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries from thevoorslag, or “forestrike,” on simple tower chimes, but a distinction between chimes and carillons has always been maintained.¹ The bells in both a chime and carillon are fixed to a beam and are therefore stationary, but a carillon has more bells. Whereas eight to twelve bells diatonically tuned—almost always to a major scale—constitute a typical chime, a carillon has twenty-three to seventy or more bells (usually between thirty-five and forty-nine) tuned chromatically. A carillon therefore embraces three to four chromatic octaves.² Like...

  11. Part IV The Russian Bell and Bell Founding in Russia

    • 9 The Russian Bell: Between Europe and Asia
      (pp. 97-113)

      Its form, clapper, and decorative programs are European, the manner in which it is rung was borrowed from Byzantium, but in its sonic ideal, mounting, and the magnitude of some castings it looks toward Asia. The position of the Russian bell between Europe and Asia is partly revealed through the attitude of its founders and of the Russian church toward the nature of bell sound. The tone quality of a bell and the presence or absence of a definite pitch are basically determined by form, substance, and striking agent.¹ Form includes size (height and diameters), weight, proportions, and profile. Profile...

    • 10 The Russian Bell: From The Foundry to the Bell Tower
      (pp. 114-132)

      H. B. Walters has described the founding of a bell as “nothing more than [running] a layer of metal . . . into a space between two moulds: an inner mould known as the ‘core,’ and an outer, styled the ‘cope’ or mantle.”¹ Such a synoptical view of bell casting does not take into consideration the several lengthy stages of preparation that must precede the actual pouring of the molten metal, however. Weeks, months, or in some cases, even years of exacting work anticipate the few minutes it takes for the liquid metal to run from the furnace into the...

  12. Part V The Great Bells of Moscow

    • 11 The Muscovite Crescendo in Bell Founding
      (pp. 135-147)

      Greek Archbishop Arsenius of Elasson, who visited Moscow during the reign of Boris Godunov, gazed in amazement at the tsar’s great Kremlin bell of 1599 and boldly proclaimed in his travel journal: “Bells of such size and beauty are not to be found in any other kingdom in the entire world.”¹ There were, unbeknownst to Arsenius, several older bells of greater magnitude in East Asia. But his words were nonetheless prophetic, for 136 years after the founding of the Godunov Bell the Kremlin did contain the largest and heaviest bell ever cast.

      If any single project gave impetus to the...

    • 12 The Tale of Tsar-Kolokol
      (pp. 148-165)

      Like some creature of Russian fantasy from theskazki(folk tales), the Kremlin’s last tsar bell dwelled a hundred years in its subterranean abode before it rose into the light of day. The story of this bell might even be told in the style of theskazki,for something of the legendary Russian world of old hovers about its creation by a master bell founder and his son. The epic tale began shortly after Anna Ivanovna was crowned Empress of Russia in 1730. In anukaz(edict) to the Senate dated July 26 of that year the empress declared her...

    • 13 The Last of Russia’s Great Bells
      (pp. 166-172)

      About 1570 Heinrich von Staden wrote that in the Moscow Kremlin between the Ivan Velikij Bell Tower and the Uspensky Cathedral hung the largest bell in Muscovy.¹ This great bell of 1,000 puds (36,113 pounds), founded by Nikolai Nemchin in 1533 and originally hung in its own timber structure on the Kremlin’s Cathedral Square,² was the first bell to bear the name “Tsar-Kolokol.” According to sketchy information, Nemchin’s bell “was recast at a later time with the addition of bronze”;³ it was christened “Prazdnichnyj” (Feast-day), or “Great Uspensky,” in a patriarchal edict of 1689 and moved from its wooden belfry...

    • 14 Bronze Avatars of a Religio-Political Ideology
      (pp. 173-176)

      For almost a thousand years bells rang in Russia. The signals that had sounded on Egyptian, Hebrew, and early Christian trumpets were transferred to semantra that the Greeks struck for their calls to services—and finally, by the mid-eleventh century, to bells in Russia. Russian bells both accommodated the metal substance of trumpets and reflected the manual hammer strokes on Byzantine semantra in their manner of ringing. And as they developed on the frontier between Europe and Asia, they combined features of form, installation, and performance practice from both Eastern and Western instruments. In their form and profile they preserved...

  13. Appendices
    (pp. 177-186)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 187-242)
  15. Glossary
    (pp. 243-246)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 247-258)
  17. Index
    (pp. 259-276)