По материалам издания: Fortounatto Michael,
protopriest. M. I. Theokritoff
(1888-1969): Thirty years
since his death: His Life as
a Church Musician // Cathedral
Newsletter: Russian Orthodox
Cathedral in London. 1999. April-June.
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Русской Православной Церкви
For twenty years (1946-65) before a severe heart attack stopped him from working, Michael Ivanovich Theokritoff was choirmaster at our church, both at St Philip's church, then - from 1956 - at Ennismore Gardens. There was at that time no-one in the congregation who was interested in receiving some of the immense knowledge in church music which he possessed. Yet there came to him a few eager non-Orthodox - as did two young men from the Eastern rite Roman Catholic church in London (Marian House) both of whom became choir directors. Mr. Guy Picarda, a London lawyer and a student of Bielorussian church music, knew Michael Ivanovich Theokritoff in the late 1950s and early 1960s , and has now sent us his own recollections and those of one of his friends from those early years, Mr.Peter King. We are grateful to both.
I have always had clearly before me the image of a straight-backed, balding, benign and slightly surprised school-master, with walking stick and sensibly adjusted beret. But what I most vividly recall was his sound scholarship and unflappable professionalism. Like N. Ossorguine the Elder at St. Serge (Paris) he saw his task as that of a church musician: no drama, no sentiment in his conducting, and in his choice of repertoire a taste as perfect as his imperfect singers would allow. Yet he seemed always able to rely on a competent quartet of experienced vocalists (illuminated by Beryl Grant) to lighten up the Victorian Gothic gloom of St. Philips, where first I met him. Once or twice when he had been delayed for vespers, I replaced him as choirmaster (by popular request), delighting the alto "Bunty" Barbara with my slushy rue Daru modulations a la Spassky. Mikhail Ivanovich would not have approved. Most of his attempts to organise rehearsals, however, petered out - old Mr Fedorov found the walk to Upper Addison Gardens laborious, Binsky was for ever off and away to Brompton Oratory, Kira Vane lived up to her name and couldn't be bothered with rehearsals, which left the maestro and his miscellaneous altos (Barbara Antonovska) and sopranos (Beryl Grant) and of course the Belgian Embassy cook (I forget his name, but not his wonderful Russian cuisine), myself et al the task of ploughing through Kastalsky's Miloserdia dveri. I can't remember if we ever performed it (yes, we did!), but the experience of working at that, and more Kastalsky - S nami Boh, the Starosimonovskaia Cherubic Hymn, the Serbian Hvalite imia Hospodne - as well as Ippolitov-Ivanov, Lvovsky, gave him enormous satisfaction, and let it be said, no mean results. It was a pity he was not after concert performances, but London was short of Slavic vocal talent, and he was first and foremost a churchman.
Of course it was over our cups of coffee at the BOAC building opposite the gloomy, spiky Church of St Philips (Buckingham Palace Road) with its pale blue and cream iconostasis, that I was able to absorb some of his encyclopedic knowledge of Razumovsky, Smolensky, Metallov, Preobrazhensky, the Imperial Chapel choir of St Petersburg, his own teacher Kastorsky at the Penza Seminary, Znamenny chants and kinobar marks. Often we would meet up for an outing to the British Museum Library and a pint at the Museum Tavern frequented by the bibulous Marx. He always showed interest in my stumbling footsteps into Belarussian Church music and kanticki and always encouraged me in whatever I did, eschewing notions of kanonichnost. "Belarussian and Ukrainian music are important for Russian music too" M.I. would say, and liked to hear of my village wanderings in Podlasia, or my singing in the Cathedrals of Lviv, Odessa and Moscow: I was always loath to leave the man, so much did he have to tell me - all in German of course, for my Russian was and still is poorish, and my usual drift was to accompany him back to 36 Wynne Road and his Alsatian 'Lux', before making tracks home to the Temple. He did come up to Finchley a couple of times to view our collection of Russian Church music I had had the luck to acquire from Medtner's friend Archibald Henderson (Organist at Glasgow University), who set many works of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Balakirev, Arensky, Nikolsky and others for English choirs, and other fine books - wine-stains and all - from Boris Vydra a psalomchyk of the Rue Daru cathedral who had prodigal and expensive habits. M.I.'s name and hand-writing are still to be seen in our Visitors book, dated "4.1.1961".
I remember particularly the preparations for the consecration of the Church at Ennismore Gardens - a grandiose occasion with Metropolitan Nikolai of Paris presiding. Many of the responses : Кто ест сей, Господь пасет мя, Се что добро или что красно, were simple standard settings, but beautiful; and of course Bortnianski No 7 and Archangelski's Хвалите имя Господне were de rigueur. With him I learnt to love Kompaneysky's Достойно есть, and not to sneer at Archangelski, whom M.I. rightly rated with Kastalski and Chesnokov. For him Potulov and Kompaneyski were the fore-runners of Kastalsky and 'l'Ecole de Moscou'. Even at an advanced age he enjoyed poring over deciphering kriuki. He was particularly and rightly fond of his old teacher Kastorsky from Penza whose delightfully simple Хвалите имя Господне remain а firm favourite of mine. There were some wonderful Christmas and Easter celebrations at Ennismore Gardens, with old Archimandrite Nicholas Gibbs (the Tsarevich's former tutor and fellow prisoner at Dom Ipatieva) looking like an icon, all in silver and blue, and a good Serbian choir (conducted by the late Matushka Rodzianko) singing a nice rocking Рождество Твое Христе Боже наш, which triggered off my interest in Balkan music - Christic, Mokraniec - and more particularly Bulgarian chants. The BBC Overseas broadcasts of the London choir under the seemingly effortless direction of M.I., with those beautifully enunciated sermons by Metropolitan Anthony and the exertions of Vladimir R. the younger ('Johnny' the Russian disc-jockey) in earphones, lost in tangles of wire, must have brought great consolation and pleasure to people all over the Soviet Union at Christmas and Easter. Ah! and those memorable midnight feasts in the downstairs kitchens of the Belgian Embassy off Belgrave Square - one Easter I believe - such pirozkis, such galantines - all pure poetry!
Mikhail Ivanovich Theokritoff appeared to me such a quiet, thoughtful man, who was highly regarded in Russian choral circles both in England and on the continent. Thoroughly professional and unflappable, his singers were always at ease with him. He knew N. Medtner, who for a while lived in England. His opinions on repertoire were respected, and he was involved with some of the members of the editorial board of the College of Faith publication Русский Нотный Сборник (1962), without joining in the squabbles. Prof. Ivan Gardner, A. Swan and Maxime Kovalevsky and I think old Dr Zhavoronkov came and we had a party in the Temple - champagne and all - to meet Fr Chad Varah of the Samaritans whose College was financing the publication. Swan and Gardner were critical of the amount of space given over to the so-called ecole de Paris arrangements of N. N. Kedrov, Maxime and one Rudikov (a 'discovery' of Gardner's, which Gardner later came to regret). The works of Soviet composers Pariysky and Shishkin were disappointing, and the young but over-enthusiastically adopted emigre Filatev ("наш сын") frankly dull. They wanted more of the ilk of Shvedov, Nikolski, Rachmaninov (and perhaps also Swan and Gardner). Swan had a wonderful sharp tongue: he was swingeingly critical of Bachmetieff (whom I still find rather grand in an un-Russian sort of way) and was for ever dismissing Maxime's settings, so lovingly played for us on the Bluthner in hopeful, bright-eyed expectation of applause, as "Smirnov!" "Soloviev!" - finely honed insults indeed. Perhaps Swan was right. M.I. missed out on this little display, as he was preparing for vespers that day, though I think he later joined up with Swan to meet with the Anglo-Russian composer's brother (a Russian Army doctor, author of a book "Home on the Neva" and father of the pianist Donald Swan) at his home in Richmond. Mikhail Ivanovich enjoyed tales of my somewhat hazardous visits to church choirs in Lviv, Pachajev, Odessa, Kiev, Moscow and the backwater villages of Belarussian Podlasia in Poland in the days of Khrushchev. No doubt the choirmasters I so rashly visited were made equally uncomfortable - one hapless deacon in Bielsk Padlaski, as I learnt later, was grilled twelve times!
I recall an epic pilgrimage to Chevetogne with Mikhail Ivanovich and Peter King, hunting out the Kastalsky settings of the 8 tones, with that wonderful monastic choir; the visit to the Soviet pavilion at the Exhibition in Brussels (1959). It all happened over forty years ago and my memories grow dim, but I remember how he lingered nostalgically over some Russian fish soup or solianka with bits of fish floating about in it, and how he took to Fr. Gregory Bainbridge. M.I's leading pupil was probably Michael Fortounatto, who succeeded him as Choirmaster at Ennismore Gardens, played a significant role in popularising Russian Church music in Western Europe, and has more recently been involved in restoring the choral tradition and repertoire he has largely received at St-Serge (Paris) and in London to trainee precentors in Post-Soviet Russia.
Then there was Mr Barachevsky, the aged bookseller off the Tottenham Court Road, with Mr Sorokin of the " Polish" Orthodox choir, who first put me in touch with Mikhail Ivanovich. I lost touch with him somewhat, after Bishop Caslau asked me to take over the St. Cyril's House School Boys choir in about 1964. At one stage we had about 16 boy-singers, and the work cut into my free time on Saturdays. I could no longer keep up with Ennismore Gardens. I recall we sang in the Albert Hall, at St Peters Rome and on English television when the "How it is" programme did a thing on Belarusians in Finchley. I duly notified M.I. of the time of the broadcast: he was already poorly - heart trouble I think. He was able to watch the programme, a modest enough effort really, but he said kind things about their performance of Belarusian folksongs, all decked out in their white folk costumes.
All but fleeting memories.
* * *
Troitsk, a small town in the province of Penza, Southeast of Moscow, was the birthplace of Michael Theokritoff. Somewhere between the river Volga to the East and the Tambov province to the West - where St Seraphim led his holy life - this area, with its Russian and Tartar population, is part of the fertile "Black earth" belt which stretches from the Carpathians and the Black Sea to the Altay mountains in Siberia.
His life (1888-1969) can be neatly divided into three distinct fragments: 30 formative years in Russia until the Revolution, the civil war and exile; another nearly 30 years in Western Europe, chiefly in Germany, until the end of the Second World War; finally, a little more than 20 years in London until his death three days before Christmas on 4th January 1969.
His family background
Born into a traditional church family - his father was a deacon and his grandfather a priest - Michael Ivanovitch (as he was known to the Russian community in London) remained a committed churchman throughout his life. His elder brother Vladimir went to study at the St Petersburg Theological Academy, and after graduation joined the staff of the Russian Imperial Embassy in London, where he remained with his family until his death in 1950; this brother, a fine deacon with an outstanding bass voice, eventually became the vicar of our parish in the last years of his life. His mother must have been a sensitive and loving mother; we have in our home a bust made of her by her sculptress daughter, Maria (a museum of her life-long carreer has been set up back in Troitsk) where she appears, clad in a simple scarf, with a quiet, inwardly perceptive and knowing expression. Once when we were hearing the voice of Jusi Bjorling on the radio, M.I. recollected with amusement that he had such a tenor voice when he was young and that his mother always listened intently when he sang. Of this beauty only a trace remained when we knew him, after a lifetime of choir conducting and singing all parts at once … There was also an older sister, Natalia, and a younger sister, Serafima, who had married a doctor, and a brother, Paul, who died exhausted a month after his release from the Gulag.
Pilgrimage before starting school. St Seraphim's canonisation
Michael Ivanovitch as a child had his first taste of spiritual beauty when, at the age of seven, he was taken on a pilgrimage to a monastery to mark the beginning of his schooling. They arrived - Nanny, Natalia and he - in time for the evening vigil, and notwithstanding the length of the service the little Mischa never got tired or restless until the end, totally absorbed by the chants and liturgical drama, and when it was time to leave, he resisted saying that he wanted to stay here forever. At the age of twelve, he took part in the celebrations at Sarov when St Seraphim was canonised a saint.
Penza seminary, Katorsky, 2 books of scores
There was in Penza a particularly fine teacher of choir singing, who left a lasting impression on Michael Ivanovitch. A.V.Kastorsky was both a theologian (graduating at the Kazan Theological Academy) and a professional musician (studied at the St Petersburg Conservatoire under Rimsky-Korsakov). M.I. remembered the ability with which Kastorsky could tune up the intonation of his choir to a refined degree by himself singing the required musical intervals and having them repeated by the pupils. Michael Ivanovitch also learned conducting and interpretation from Kastorsky. I am sure the broad and controlled movements of his entire arm, aimed at producing waves of musical rhythm under the scrutiny of his piercing, inspired eyes, now building up the volume of sound in a slow powerful crescendo, and now returning the flow to a much favoured sensitive mezzo piano dynamic, were first observed by Michael Ivanovitch during Kastorsky's teaching sessions. M.I's library includes two much worn printed books of Kastorsky's elementary scores in small pocket format - obviously meant to be carried around and used constantly, - the first for the Vigil (1899), the second for the Divine Liturgy (1901). In my time, M.I. sang a few items out of these books with his small "weekday" choir at Ennismore Gardens, and his manner doubtless reflected Kastorsky's own interpretation. Among them: Богородице Дево, Хвалите имя Господне, Ангельский собор, Взбранной воеводе.
Young choirmaster in Moscow
The first twenty years of the new century saw the momentous emergence of the "Moscow school" in church composition, an opportunity to return to the traditional national roots, to the chant in particular. Native polyphony had reached its finest hour with many leading composers creating a new repertoire for the Church before being swept away by the shock of the Bolshevik coup d'etat and subsequent suppression of practice and creativity in the Church. Michael Ivanovitch spent some years in Moscow working as choirmaster and absorbing the new culture. He does not seem to have personally known any of the prominent figures of the movement: Kastalsky, Rachmaninov, Chesnokov. But he certainly became a keen adept of the school during those years in the capital. His future life-long and assiduous dedication to the study of the Moscow School shows the depth of his love for this music which he acquired during his youth. Incidentally, he once told us that he became acquainted with members of the celebrated choir of Alexander Archangelsky before the latter emigrated to Prague at the Revolution.
Civil war and exile
Tragically, like many of his contemporaries in his country, Michael Ivanovitch was caught up in the turmoil of the civil war that followed after the peace concluded by Lenin with Germany. He found himself fighting in the ranks of the White army, while at the same time his brother was involved in the confrontation on the opposite side. After the defeat of his side, M.I. found himself in Constantinople, but he eventually reached Berlin in Germany, where there is an important Russian church. By that time Metropolitan Evlogy was established as Exarch of Patriarch Tikhon for Western Europe; Theokritoff's appointment as choirmaster for Berlin was confirmed by this hierarch. During the same period Michael Ivanovitch made a trip to London to see his brother Vladimir, but no change of plan resulted from this meeting: M.I. returned to Germany. Instead, if any change was needed, he was "promoted" to the Russian church in Wiesbaden, which became his home for many years to come and the home were all his children were born, seven of them. This "promotion" has to be understood in that Theokritoff was now considered number two by the ruling bishop in the ranking of choirmasters available in Western Europe, the first being N.P.Afonsky who was moved from Wiesbaden to Paris after, in the early 1920s, the Metropolitan had taken residence in the capital of France.
There was a studious side to the intellectual make up of Michael Ivanovitch. He had the capacity to spend hours reading a specialist book on church music, even in surroundings not particularly propitious for such work. His power of concentration was such that he was noted in the family for studying musical scores sitting as he was in the common room of their home while his teenage children had the radio on playing some music… In Berlin in the beginning of the 1920s, he was still single. He would sit in the library where he found monographs and histories of Russian church music, as well as musical scores; he would copy page after page from rare examples of Rachmaninov, Hyppolitov-Ivanov, Nikolsky etc. He also seems to have become skilful in the art of binding books, so that whatever he found and bought in secondhand bookshops, he bound in a fashion suited to last for centuries, with added pages at the front and the end of the books, reinforced corners and the hardest back I have ever touched. Earlier, while in Istanbul, he had learned to mend shoes, which had become his means of survival while he was there.
Wiesbaden, marriage and children
Many German towns, but particularly health resorts, have a nineteenth century Russian church; with a concentration of new exiles from Russia appearing everywhere at the time, Wiesbaden was no exception. Michael Ivanovitch was able to draw on the Russian colony as well as on some local people for forming his choir. Some very fine voices indeed were found and the Russian church on the Neroberg up in the hills outside the town, known as the "Griechische Kapelle", became one of the leading centres of Russian church music in the West. In 1926 Michael Ivanovitch married Louise Stanschek who was his principal soprano of exceptional purity of voice. He himself conducted the choir at their wedding for lack of a competent substitute. Between 1927 and 1939 seven children were born to the family, in a flat in the house attached to the church which the Theokritoff family occupied before they moved to a flat in town during the war. But the advent of Hitler to power had brought trouble to the family, and the end to Michael Ivanovitch's musical carreer in the church. After becoming Chancellor, Hitler promoted the handing over of the legitimate "Evlogian" churches on German territory to representatives of the Russian Church in Exile. In the event this policy was to prevail and in 1934 Michael Ivanovitch was deprived of his job and income (but not of his flat). Here his past experience of living his early years in the country proved invaluable. He cultivated a vegetable garden with which he was substantially able to feed his family.
Worries continued to accumulate for the Theokritoff family when in 1941 Germany attacked the Soviet Union. As a refugee, Michael Ivanovich had no national status, neither had his family, and all became politically vulnerable. Michael Ivanovich, as a Russian national and considered politically suspect, was put under police surveillance and for a time was interned. Later he had been drafted to contribute to the war effort and worked as a draftsman in a factory. Aware of the dangers attached to their condition, both parents held themselves with dignity and extreme prudence. Seeing these tense years in retrospect (and considering also the losses borne by the civil population at large from allied bombardments), one realises that it is by a miracle that Michael Ivanovich and his family survived alive and unscathed. In the aftermath of the allied victory, an incident shows the humanity with which Michael Ivanovich treated those with whom he had come into contact. During his time at the factory, he came to know the owner and a mutual respect had grown between the two men; later, as a witness at the man's trial, Michael Ivanovich was able to help demonstrate that this industrialist had not been a war criminal, and by his testimony he saved his former boss's life.
Eventual move to London
After the collapse of Germany, Michael Ivanovich was offered the possibility of moving to London to replace Sorokin, the choirmaster of the Russian Orthodox parish there, who had recently died. Michael Ivanovich's brother, Fr Vladimir, was the vicar of the parish at the time. As normal postal communications in 1945 had not yet been restored, the two brothers had communicated through the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury with whom Fr Vladimir had a good relationship. With no civilian transport operating out of Germany, Michael Ivanovich travelled to London on an American occupation army train (this possibility was also negotiated by the Archbishop's office). This was in September 1946.
Michael Ivanovich naturally stepped into the position of choirmaster of the Russian Church. St Philip's Church, where the services took place (and were taken alternatively with the Russian Church in Exile), was a Victorian Gothic church building where the choir stood behind a partition on the side of the sanctuary. There Michael Ivanovich took stock of the state of the choir and wisely did not alter the existing repertoire to suit his own taste, but rather took advantage of the experience and voices that were there and quickly imposed his own manner and interpretation. In time, an accomplished elderly singer, Paul Fedorov, joined the choir - a bass of exceptional range and beauty; many said they had never heard such a fine voice in their lives; and it was true: it had strength and great depth, and it could be tender and melodious; never did it stand out of the whole choir, always blending colourfully with the rest. I remember Fedorov intone the celebrated "Gospodi uslyshi" by Archangelsky on the occasion of the visit to London by Metropolitan Pimen of Minsk (in 1954, I believe): his was not an operatic "solo" voice, but in its rich sobriety, it foreshadowed the polyphonic range of the entire choir which was to follow. Michael Ivanovich made full use of this outstanding chorister.
But unlike in the church in Wiesbaden twenty five years earlier, in London Michael Ivanovich did not at first have the quality, nor the number of singers to enable him on a new soil to revive the tradition which he knew so well. He had to wait for the church to move to Ennismore Gardens and see the arrival of a few younger voices there to promote what he valued in church music - the composers belonging to the Moscow school, and Kastalsky's harmonisations in particular.
The new church in Ennismore Gardens
All Saints Church was consecrated by Metropolitan Nicholas (Eremine) from Paris, on 30th November 1956, the day of St George of Nicomedia, the miracle-worker. Two brands of compositions occupied Michael Ivanovich in the eight or so years in which he remained active and creative before his retirement. The one was the traditional chant, harmonised for four parts in the simplest possible way, which Michael Ivanovich conducted in the most sensitive and delicate manner; if the word "emotion" had not now acquired a pejorative sense, one could say that his rendering of such simple melodies was sustained with a controlled, beautifully emotional feeling, gained without any loss of esthetic dignity. His singing was always noble and dignified, penetratingly humane and vibrant. Such were simple prayers to the Mother of God: Не имамы иныя помощи, Достойно есть, Богородице Дево (from the Kastorsky collection), or to God: Святый Боже, Милостиве Господи (from the service of Unction). I asked him once - how would he choose items for a concert, if the choir was to give one. Michael Ivanovich said, half provocatively, that he would gladly conduct a simple sticheron, provided he gave it a truly artistic rendering; in this, of course, he was an undisputed master.
Even at the age of seventy and more, аs his voice had kept some of its original colourful timbre, Michael Ivanovich sang alone during services a few rare melodies taken from his old collections of "square notes", and one understood then that his art of conducting came from his personal ability to articulate the prayer of the Church. Such were the exapostilarion "Чертог Твой вижду, Спасе" (in Holy Week), and "Да исправится молитва моя" (at the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts).
The Moscow School of Church Music
In his art, Michael Ivanovich approached the repertoire of the Moscow School with the same intelligence and seriousness as he did the simplified harmonies of the ordinary chant. I remember how he was able to steer the choir into momentary tenderness on the word "crucified" in the troparion "Only-begotten Son". He placed similar accents within polyphonic compositions, like areas of inner clarity, highlighting the meaning of a significant word or expression in the text. One then realised that true music is found where a significant word or expression coincides with an equally significant musical cadence. Michael Ivanovich instinctively perceived these sensitive areas and expressed his understanding in his conducting. One instance of this treatment of the music can be seen in Kastalsky's "Милосердия двери отверзи нам", in the way Michael Ivanovich brought about an increase of colour and a "binding" of the melody ("legato") on the word "open" in the phrase: Open unto us the door of thy loving kindness, O Mother of God. In the Church-Slavonic text this word is the third from the beginning of the sentence, and preceded by four bars of music, thus allowing the choirmaster to establish from the start - firstly, the rhythm and character for the entire piece, and secondly to prepare the emphasis on "open". In other words, when the choir is singing "loving kindness", it is making a plea to the Mother of God: "open the door!".
Michael Ivanovich never allowed the choir to sing either too soft, or too loud. The golden medium was between mezzo-forte and mezzo-piano. But there was in his conducting a way of extracting out of the choir two related, but contrasting musical qualities: transparency and intensity. Intensity could be seen in his rendering of "Тебе поем" at the close of the "Милость мира" by Vinogradov. As this is sung during the most central and intense moment of the Divine Liturgy - the invocation of the Holy Spirit - the music is solemn and grave, balanced between prayerful minor and comforting major. Michael Ivanovich forbade his singers to raise their voice into any degree of uncontrolled loudness, he restricted them, and yet made them produce a fullness of sound through a slow and sustained rhythm of immense tenderness.
In the late 1950s Michael Ivanovich met the outstanding scholar in liturgical music of the Soviet Union in those tense years - who incidentally acheived the unique feat of teaching at both the Conservatoire and the Theological Academy in Leningrad - professor Nicholas Ouspensky. During their exchange Michael Ivanovich asked whether a copy of the Ordinary of the Dormition Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin could be obtained for him. In due course, to his delight, he received this rare 1915 edition from his newly-acquired friend and colleague. It contained, among other interesting compositions, the eight Sundays canons and the canon to the Mother of God which A.Kastalsky had harmonised for the Synodal Choir, a fact well known to Michael Ivanovich. He proceeded to introduce this music into his repertoire at Ennismore Gardens at the Saturday Vigil. We still sing these delightful canons today. Kastalsky used the ordinary Moscow chant, but clothed it in a polyphonic texture of great beauty in which, among many other virtues, transparency stands out. We must remember that Michael Ivanovich possessed a fine musical ear and had learned from Kastorsky the art of "tuning" a choir to perfection. Unlike many harmonisations of the canons by other composers, Kastalsky's score sets the four parts at a definite distance from each other, a little like a wood where the trees are planted widely apart, so that light can get in between them easily and illuminate this wood, as it were, from inside. There is such a "luminosity" in Kastalsky, and thanks to the perfect tuning of each voice Michael Ivanovich was able to create jewels of fine sound and articulate the liturgical text with their poetic luminosity.
Death at Christmas 1969
Michael Ivanovich died at home in the evening of Saturday 4th January 1969 at the time when the Resurrection Vigil was being sung in his Cathedral. In the last four years of his life he was only rarely able to travel to church. Events seemed to have taken over. His body was brought to church on the third day, in the middle of the Vigil of the Nativity: the Six Psalms were interrupted half-way through the reading, the coffin was carried in to the slow accents of "Святый Боже" and placed in the side aisle to remain there until the funeral. The live BBC broadcast which was in progress in the Cathedral at that moment relayed the news of his death to the land of Michael Ivanovich's birth.