Medieval Music and Imperial Ideologies: The “Bulgarian Question” in Music


Summer Institute for the Study of East Central and Southeastern Europe




On the eve of WWI, the Russian Empire sought to expand its influence in Southeastern Europe, justifying its claims by appealing to three ideologies: Pan-Slavism, Pan-Orthodoxy, and Translatio Imperii, which held the Russian Empire to be the inheritor of the Byzantine. At the same time, Russian scholars of medieval music traveled this region, particularly Bulgaria and the monasteries of Mt. Athos, to collect manuscripts, seeking the origins of Slavic Orthodox music. This study argues that this knowledge creation project was deeply imbricated with the imperial one.