Festival of ringing of bells returned from Harvard to be held in Moscow

Source: Interfax-Religion

Moscow, September 15, 2016

The seventh “Danilov Bells” Russian
bell-ringing festival will be held in the bell tower of
Moscow’s St. Daniel (“Danilovsky”)
Monastery on September 25.

Bell compositions will be performed at the festival by the
best bell-ringers of Moscow and many regions of Russia,
Belarus, Latvia and Ukraine, the press service of the St.
Daniel Monastery reported Thursday to
Interfax-Religion.

A wide range of participants were gathered thanks to the
support of the Moscow government and benefactors from
among the monastery’s parishioners.

During the festival the eighteen monastery’s
historic bells which were returned from Harvard University
in 2008 will be rung.

The festival coincides with the beginning of a new year of
the St. Daniel’s bell-ringing classes where all
willing can learn the skill of traditional Russian
bell-ringing.

The present set of bells of the St. Daniel Monastery is
the fourth set fully preserved after the Revolution, and
in respect of its scale and musical qualities it is
inferior only to the Rostov Veliky bell ensemble. The
largest of the surviving bells is called
“Bolshoy,” or “the Big One” which
weighs twelve metric tons and is unique for its
melodiousness. This bell was created in 1890 by the famous
Moscow master Xenophon Verevkin who also cast the bells
for the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.

In July 2008 an agreement was solemnly signed at Harvard
University in accordance with which in exchange for
returning the historic bells of St. Daniel Monastery,
Harvard received a set of replicas cast in Russia.

On the patronal feast of St. Daniel Monastery, September
12, 2008, Patriarch Alexis II blessed the bells which had
arrived from Harvard, and on March 17, 2009 (another
feast-day of St. Daniel of Moscow), Patriarch Kirill
blessed the first tolling of the bell ensemble installed
in the bell tower. The following year was devoted to
thorough examination of the bells, their state and
properties. The bell ensemble control system was tested
and adjusted, and the historic St. Daniel’s bell
tunes were revived. In September 2010 the first festival
was organized in the monastery’s bell tower.

In the 1930’s the eighteen bells of the St. Daniel
Monastery narrowly escaped the destruction and were sold
abroad. The unique bells were literally saved by the
Harvard Professor Thomas Whittemore (1871-1950), then a
member of the American charitable mission to Moscow. He
persuaded the American businessman Charles Richard Crane
(1858-1939) who had a deep interest in Russia to obtain
the bells.

From that time on the St. Daniel’s bells were
located on the campus of Harvard University where several
buildings were re-equipped specially for them.

The first attempts to return the unique bell ensemble to
Russia were made in the mid-1980’s. Following the
negotiations with Harvard University, organized by
Patriarch Alexis II and the Link of Times foundation, and
the signing in March 2007 of an agreement on the return of
the eighteen ancient bells to Russia, their exact copies
were cast in Voronezh under the direction of
Russia’s Society of Bell-ringers. It was also
decided to hand over two more bells to Harvard. They are
not a part of the university’s ensemble.

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