Hellenic Acquisition Honors Professor Kenneth Levy

The Manuscripts Division has acquired three post-Byzantine Greek music manuscripts in memory of Professor Kenneth Levy (1927-2013), *49 *55, Scheide Professor of Music History. The Library purchased them with matching funds provided by the Program in Hellenic Studies, with the support of the Stanley J. Seeger Hellenic Fund. Professor Levy was a distinguished music historian whose wide academic interests ranged from early Christian and Byzantine music to Western medieval and Renaissance music. He joined the faculty of Princeton in 1966 and twice served as chair of the Music Department (1967–70, 1988). Among his many publications are Music, A Listener’s Introduction (1983) and Gregorian Chant and the Carolingians (1998)

The three manuscripts are a Heirmologion (1764), an Anthologia (late 18th or early 19th century), and a Doxastika (early 19th century), volumes of Greek sacred chant and hymns with musical notation in late Byzantine neumes, intended for use in the Greek Orthodox Church. These manuscripts show continuity and change in Greek church music during the centuries that followed the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. They complement thirty post-Byzantine music manuscripts already in the Manuscript Division, most of which are in Princeton Greek Manuscripts (C0879), a growing collection with more than 100 volumes dating from the 17th to 19th centuries. This manuscript collection has grown rapidly over the past two decades by cooperation between the Manuscripts Division and the Hellenic Studies Program (now the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies). 

It should be mentioned that Professor Levy and his wife Brooks Emmons Levy, former Curator of Numismatics, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, donated a Kratematarion (Princeton MS. 209). a music manuscript from the middle of the 15th century, making it the oldest Greek chant manuscript at Princeton. The manuscript may be dated by its unusual Dragon watermark, which is similar to a 1445 example in Dieter and Johanna Harlfinger, Wasserzeichen aus griechischen Handschriften (1974), no. 21. Professor Levy was also responsible for the Mendel Music Library’s Kenneth Levy Microfilm Archive of Medieval Liturgical Chant, with more than 500 reels for Greek and other chant manuscripts (8th–16th century) from European and Near Eastern libraries. For more information about the post-Byzantine music manuscripts in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, contact rbsc@princeton.edu

Post-Byzantine music 101Post-Byzantine music 102

C0879, no. 101, Doxastika; C0879; no. 102, Anthologia.