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Viorel Cosma and Owen Wright

[Demetrius]

(b Silişteni-Fălciu, Moldavia, Oct 26, 1673; dDmitrievka, Russia, Aug 21, 1723). Prince of Moldavia (1683, 1710–11), Romanian scholar, encyclopedist, composer, folklorist and theorist. He started his musical studies under Jeremia Cacavelas in Iaşi and continued them in Istanbul with Kemani Ahmed and Angeli. In the Ottoman capital he compiled a treatise on the theory of Turkish music which used an innovative system of musical notation based on the Arabic alphabet. At the end of this treatise, Edvar-i musiki (‘Textbook of music’), he added notations of some 350 instrumental pieces in the peşrev and semai forms, a few of them his own compositions. These notations provide an important comprehensive record of the late 17th-century Ottoman instrumental repertory.

Back in his country, as Prince of Moldavia (1710–11), he continued his ethnographic and folk music studies, recorded in Descriptio Moldaviae (1716). Appointed councillor to the Tsar of Russia, Peter I, Cantemir settled in Moscow. But he continued his musical activities, compiling (in Romanian) ...