Musical culture – History of Ohrid
Musical culture was developed in the period of the revival of Ohrid and the nearby rural settlements. This period is closely connected with the work of the “Ohrid Trumpeters” who cherished the “songs of the city”. That was the period after 1850. The first generation musical bends worked under the guide of Angele Karagule. Even today the public can enjoy the songs such as: “Despina”, “They’ll abduct me, Nane…”, Joje rows his boat”, Fance went to Kalista” and others thanks to the talent of Karagule.
When talking about the musical folklore of Ohrid one cannot avoid mentioning the song “Biljana was bleaching the linen”. The time when this song was created cannot be determined. The widely spread interpretation is that the song was sung by the people in the past when the caravans traveled on the Via Egnatia, dispatching wine from Macedonia to the other European countries. However, based upon the research of the melody structure, one might conclude that it is a song from more recent times (most probably from XIX century) when the music in these parts of the world was under great influence of the West European musical creation. Even today “Biljana was bleaching linen” is sort of an ode to Ohrid.
Significant improvement of church musical art can be noticed in the period between XVI and XIX century. A great number of songs had been created in that period. The same songs are sung in the course of the religious services even today. The most prominent composers of the time were Daniel Prvopevec, Jovan Trapezunski, Petar Bereket, Petar Efeski, Todor Fokejski, Jakov Peloponeski, Manuil Vizantiec, Grigorij Levitski, Georgi Kritski, Petar Lampadarij and others. Their work has been created on the basis of the liturgies and the religious services. One must state that these pieces of art are highly artistic. However, after the abolishment of the Ohrid Archiepiscopate, the conditions got worse. Thus, no significant religious songs were created.
In the XIX century, the so-called “neume” manuscripts originated. They were created in 1818. The manuscripts cover the renewal of the connections between Ohrid and Constantinople. They are part of the anthology handbooks of spiritual music that enriched the everyday religious services with quality musical creations. A more organized activity of training religious singers can be noticed with the coming of Naum Miladinov from Struga, the brother of Dimitrija and Konstantin Milandinov. He established a musical school where the theory of religious singing was taught. Naum Miladinov also wrote a textbook, the first of its kind in Macedonia.
During the revival, a tendency of inserting elements of local music was present. Jovan Harmosin from Ohrid initiated the process, but he also, having completed his education, and made an attempt to resolve the problem of providing Slavic texts and appropriate melodies. Not knowing the Old-Slavic language, Harmosin went to the monastery Saint Bogorodica Precista in Kicevo to learn the language from the monks. After that, he translated a number of musical texts from Greek into Old-Slavic very successfully. In the course of the translation he partly reconstructed the Slavic religious singing. In addition, Harmosin published two books of collected religious melodies.
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