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date: 24 January 2021

Koukouzeles [Papadopoulos], Joanneslocked

  • Edward V. Williams
  • , revised by Christian Troelsgård


(flc1300–50). Singer, composer and reviser of Byzantine chant. Traditionally known as the maïstōr (‘master’), the ‘second source of Greek music’ (the first being John Damascene, 8th century) and angelophōnos (‘angel-voice’), he was one of the most eminent Byzantine musicians during the Palaeologan dynasty (1261–1453) and was later made a saint of the Greek Orthodox Church.

Koukouzeles probably lived during the reigns of the Emperor Andronikos II Palaeologos (1282–1328) and his successor. Evidence in Byzantine music manuscripts suggests that his musical career was well established by about 1300, and by the mid-14th century he was considered the most important Byzantine composer.

Much of what is known about Koukouzeles’ life is contained in a short saint’s biography, or vita, the earliest extant copies of which date from the 16th century. According to this text he was born in Dyrrachium, now Durrës in Albania, but moved to Constantinople while still a child to attend the imperial school as a protégé of the Byzantine emperor. His mother appears to have been Slavonic, according to instances of her speech recorded (albeit in Greek letters) in the ...

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Mount Sinai, St Catherine's Monastery
Athens, Ethnikē Bibliotēkē tēs Hellados
St Petersburg, Rossiyskaya Natsional′naya Biblioteka