Please support the campaign “Save the Monumenta Musicae Byzantinae”

#1
This morning a message came as a geat shock to me:

I would like to share the current campaign to prevent the end of the MMB. Please spread it among those whom it might concern!

A PETITION TO SAVE THE "MONUMENTA MUSICAE BYZANTINAE"

https://www.change.org/p/rektor-adm-ku-dk-save-the-monumenta-musicae-byzantinae
(Please follow this link to sign the petition!)

To the Rector of the University of Copenhagen (prof. Henrik C. Wegener: rektor@adm.ku.dk)
To the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Copenhagen (prof. Jesper Kallestrup: dekan@hum.ku.dk)
To the Head of the Saxo Institute of the University of Copenhagen (prof. Stuart James Ward: stuart@hum.ku.dk)

Dear Sirs,

We are writing to you as the Editorial Board of the Monumenta Musicae Byzantinae, to express our alarm at your proposal to dismiss Prof. Christian Troelsgård from his position as Associate Professor in the Saxo Institute.

The Monumenta Musicae Byzantinae (MMB) was established in Copenhagen in 1935 under the direction of Prof. Carsten Høeg, and quickly became a world-renowned scientific enterprise devoted to the study and publication of Byzantine musical and liturgical sources. The University of Copenhagen has been central to the activities of the MMB ever since. As you are doubtless aware, it houses a comprehensive library and archive which has supported a sustained and highly productive programme of research and publication by a very international body of scholars. Students of the successive directors of the MMB have gone on to secure prestigious positions around the world in the fields of Classics, Byzantine Studies and Musicology. The MMB volumes are published under the auspices of the Union Académique Internationale, with the support of the Carlsberg Foundation and several other funding bodies, and are universally admired for the quality of their research as well as for their high production standards.

In consideration of the worldwide recognised leading role of the MMB in research on Byzantine music and liturgy, we are deeply concerned by the unexpected news that the intense research activities conducted within the MMB project are in serious danger of coming to an abrupt end. We gather that, for reasons of ‘necessary cut-backs’, the University plans in a few weeks to dismiss – after 26 years of honoured service – the MMB Director Prof. Christian Troelsgård, a highly esteemed scholar and teacher, on the vague grounds that his position no longer ‘matches the future development of the Faculty’.

Since Prof. Troelsgård represents the one and only institutional affiliation of the MMB project in Denmark, this would lead to a sudden cessation of all of the MMB’s research activities, which have for more than 80 years been centred in the University of Copenhagen, and to the lamentable dispersal of a whole scholarly tradition that has represented a jewel in the crown of Danish (and European) research in the humanities thoughout this period. In fact, the consequences of this dismissal on research in the field of Byzantine music and chant would be really dramatic, not only in Denmark: the MMB has since its inception been designated as a ‘research enterprise’ under the auspices of the Union Académique Internationale, a status in which it was recently re-accredited, and the dismantling of its leading research unit in Denmark would condemn the whole international project (with partner-scholars in Austria, Italy, Germany, Greece, the United Kingdom, the United States, and many other countries) to a sudden and definitive closure. The MMB has attracted long-term research funding to the University of Copenhagen over many decades, flourishing successively under the leadership of its founder Prof. Carsten Høeg, then Prof. Jørgen Raasted, and especially now under Prof. Troelsgård’s careful and dedicated guidance. The hasty liquidation of a research school that is so well established in the University of Copenhagen would put at stake a unique and important European research tradition.

We are not party to the ‘future development of the Faculty’ on which grounds you propose to dismiss Prof. Troelsgård, but we respectfully remind you that he is universally regarded as a leading scholar in all branches of the study of Byzantine chant, known internationally through his many books and articles of consistently exceptional quality, and widely respected in the University through his co-ordination of several externally-funded research projects and as a member of the Academic Council of the Faculty of Humanities. In Demark he is honoured as a member of the Royal Danish Academy, and internationally he sits on many advisory panels for leading journals and research projects. His graduate students have taken the field of research into many new directions under his careful guidance, and have developed successful careers in many countries, widening interest in the field of Byzantine chant across the world.

Byzantine music should not be considered an exotic and sophisticated research field reserved for the happy few who are engaged in it: it has important repercussions on our understanding of many aspects of the different cultures of the world we live in. The Byzantine chant tradition is the real core of the Orthodox liturgy in Greece, Eastern Europe, Russia, the Balkans, Southern Italy, and the Middle East, and is therefore an important key to our understanding of the mentality of the different peoples living in this wide area. Language, rite and music constitute fundamental aspects of the cultural identity of the Eastern-Mediterranean Christian communities, many of which are now often under threat. Weakening the study of these traditions would lead to an impoverishment of our understanding of this part of world culture, and could also be seen as turning our backs on these populations on a cultural level. In the context of the study and research activities of the Saxo Institute, Prof. Troelsgård’s teaching and research have the potential to make one of the closest and most direct connections between the ancient world and the lives of many of the most marginalised communities of today. Far from being an arcane and obscurantist discipline, Byzantine chant is a field which can inspire students to embrace the study of Classical and Eastern languages, Theology, Music, History, Ethnography and Social Anthropology.

Perhaps it is not a consequence you intended in your proposal to dismiss Christian Troelsgård, but we fear that the result in the sudden annihilation of the research centre which has placed Copenhagen at the centre of this branch of historical enquiry for the best part of the last century would have serious consequences in terms of our understanding of global culture, and not only of European or global academic studies. Therefore we strongly encourage you to reconsider your decision to cut short a career in which we continue to foresee much promising contribution to the wider understanding of society.



ON BEHALF OF THE MMB EDITORIAL BOARD
Prof. Nicolas BELL (Trinity College, Cambridge)
Prof. Francesco D’AIUTO (University of Rome "Tor Vergata")
Prof. Sysse Gudrun ENGBERG (University of Copenhagen, emerita)
Prof. Christian HANNICK (Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, emeritus)
Prof. Christian THODBERG (University of Aarhus, emeritus)
Prof. Gerda WOLFRAM (University of Vienna, emerita)
and
Prof. John D. BERGSAGEL (former Director of MMB; University of Copenhagen, emeritus)
Prof. Tore Tvarnø LIND (secretary of MMB; University of Copenhagen)
 

Diogenes

Νέο μέλος
#3
:(:cry::mad:
This is a terrible disaster if they close the Monumenta Musicae Byzantinae and dismiss Prof. Troelsgård!
Can we do something??
How can we support this campaign??
 
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#4
Apart from the petition (which is nothing more than a public advice which is usually ignored by politicians, not much is known about the reactions of academics and their responsibility concerning education and science policies) personal letters to the responsible heads might be useful.

But please try to be polite. I personally do not know (I would tell you otherwise), whether and how much these heads of the institutions had been involved in this decision (maybe they failed in their duty of being present, which is still their responsibility). But you might ask questions such as how is it possible? and who actually did support such a risky decision? and then they will at least start to consider that there might be something at stake concerning the own career prospects. In the best case, when they are on your side (which is hard to foresee), they might even give you names of those responsible.

You might also express an opinion such as that the institution has dismissed its own future and express your “trust” to reconsider a decision which is so obviously incompetent.

As an academic I can tell you, you will hardly anticipate the incompetent evaluation that you often get when you do apply for project funding concerning studies in this field (not only philological studies, but also ethnomusicological studies which integrate the knowledge of palaeography in fieldwork such as using neumes as a medium of transcription), unless the jury pass them on to you (which is the usual procedure, whatever the decision is).

There are many classical philologists as well as musicologists who are completely incompetent in this field, but it does not prevent them from wrecking down their own discipline and behaving disrespective against those colleagues who know more than they do (often the motives range from incompetence, a feeling of inferiority combined with selfishness and insane intrigues to the precarious situation of academics nowadays which has become recently a European problem). Often decisions are made with incompetent heads who are just there as a right hand of an administration which tries to cut down the budget and is at the same time not competent, when somebody point at the real motive of the so-called “reform”: dismissing the future of the country, for instance.

In this wide sense even a responsible vote during the current European election might help.

Maybe some other members here do know more about it than me. I hope they will tell us here. I just wished to inform you about these outraging news!
 
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#5
I received right now a roundletter by James Borders, one of the initiators of the petition and elected chair of the Study Group Cantus Planus within the IMS. It has some more informations about it which I would like to share with you:
PETITION AGAINST CLOSING THE MONUMENTA MUSICAE BYZANTINAE

The future of a major enterprise in chant studies is under threat due to the decision of the University of Copenhagen to make the Director of the Monumenta Musicae Byzantinae, Christian Troelsgård, redundant as part of a cost-cutting initiative.

The Monumenta Musicae Byzantinae (MMB) was established in Copenhagen in 1935 under the direction of Prof. Carsten Høeg, and quickly became a world-renowned scientific enterprise devoted to the study and publication of Byzantine musical and liturgical sources (http://www.igl.ku.dk/MMB/). The University of Copenhagen has been central to the activities of the MMB ever since, housing a comprehensive library and archive which has supported a sustained and highly productive programme of research and publication by a very international body of scholars. Students of the successive directors of the MMB have gone on to secure prestigious positions around the world in the fields of Classics, Byzantine Studies and Musicology. The MMB volumes are published under the auspices of the Union Académique Internationale, with the support of the Carlsberg Foundation and several other funding bodies.

The present director of the MMB, Christian Troelsgård, well known to most Cantus Planus members and a member of the advisory board, has been a lecturer in the Department of Greek and Latin for the past 26 years, and has an outstanding reputation both as a teacher and for his research. He is universally regarded as a leading scholar in all branches of the study of Byzantine chant, known internationally through his many books and articles, and widely respected in his University through his co-ordination of several externally-funded research projects and as a member of the Royal Danish Academy and the Academic Council of the Faculty of Humanities. The University of Copenhagen has rashly determined that his position no longer ‘matches the future development of the Faculty’, and proposes to dismiss him for reasons of ‘necessary cut-backs’. Since Prof. Troelsgård represents the one and only institutional affiliation of the MMB project in Denmark, there is a real risk that this proposal would precipitate the sudden closure of all MMB activities, and the dispersal of an immensely valuable tradition of research that has been a jewel in the crown of Danish (and European) research in the humanities for more than 80 years. The consequences of this dismissal on research in this field would be really dramatic on a world scale, at a time when many new avenues of research are being actively explored.

If you would like to request a reconsideration of this decision, and to express your support for the MMB project, we invite you to sign the following petition, which also provides further details:
http://chng.it/WnvzKY95L7.

Please also feel free to write directly to Prof. Jesper Kallestrup, Dean of the Humanities at dekan@hum.ku.dk
The Head of the Saxo Institute, who is also involved in the decision making process, is Prof. Stuart James Ward stuart@hum.ku.dk

Please disseminate this message and share it with your friends and colleagues as you deem appropriate.​
 
#6
Useful links

The Saxo Institute:

https://saxoinstitute.ku.dk/

Homepage of the MMB:

http://www.igl.ku.dk/MMB/

The microfilm collection (and an additional international source catalogue with useful information):

http://www.igl.ku.dk/MMB/catbyz.html

Christian Troelsgård’s permanently updated list of the standard abridged version repertoire of stichera idiomela of the menaion part within the sticherarion (very useful to identify missing parts of a sticherarion manuscript):

http://www.igl.ku.dk/MMB/standard.html

The «Cahiers de l'Institut du Moyen-Âge Grec et Latin» (CIMAGL), an available publication series of the Saxo Institute:

https://cimagl.saxo.ku.dk/access/

Homepage of the related studies of Ottoman music “Corpus Musicae Ottomanicae” (CMO), also this project will be at stake, if the MMB has been shut down:

https://corpus-musicae-ottomanicae.de/

Middle Ages and Renaissance manuscripts at the collections of “The Royal Danish Library” (Copenhagen):

http://www.kb.dk/en/nb/materialer/haandskrifter/HA/e-mss/mdr.html
 
#7
Dear friends of the MMB

So far 2648 have signed the petition. Not very much, but many famous scholars supported the petition and made the new regime at Saxo Institute understand that their own reputation is at stake.

The result is not overwhelming, but Christian Troelsgård thanked us in a letter and wrote that the head of Saxo Institute changed his mind and agreed to a 50% position "(given that sufficient external funding has been raised before that time)”, so that “he can continue his Byzantine chant research activities”. Everyone who is obviously more competent in this field than they are, knows that this means to do a full-time job for half the wage. Nobody can say so far, whether this deal will really work out.

I just quote the whole letter that Christian send to many scholars and supporters some days ago:

Dear colleagues!

Finally, there is a (not too bad) solution – it has really meant something that so many colleagues have been encouraging and helping me during these two very difficult months! Thank you! I have written the following statement, and will follow up on it by writing to each of you individually, but this is, in short, what I can say right now:

The Monumenta Musicae Byzantinae can continue at the University of Copenhagen, where the project was founded in 1931. The notice of dismissing the present project director, associate professor Christian Troelsgård, has today (3 July 2019) been called back, and an agreement has been made, according to which prof. Troelsgård for 3 years can continue his Byzantine chant research activities, with the possibility of prolongation, given that sufficient external funding has been raised before that time. His position, though, will be only part time (50%).

A personal, final remark:

I do thank all of you who have protested against the discontinuation and consequent loss of a precious research tradition, established by my predecessors and colleagues, and I am very much looking forward to collaborating with you about the future development of Byzantine chant research. I’ll as soon as possible write individually to each of you with whom I have common projects and working plans, and to all those, who have helped me to explain the value of the MMB to the university authorities.

Christian Troelsgård, director of the MMB, 3 July 2019
 
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