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Bell Ringing Festivals and museums in Russia
May 15, 2007 15:29

Appealing to the innermost strings in peoples hearts, the art of bell ringing captivates listeners ears and minds. More and more people in Russia and other countries want to become familiar with bell ringing, master it and create this magic with their own hands. The early 1980s saw the revival of this ancient art in Russia with the festivals of bell ringing held in various corners of this country. The first festival of choral singing and ringing art of Russia Preobrazhenie (Transfiguration) took place in 1992 in Yaroslavl. Nowadays this is an annual event of international importance. Traditionally the festival includes performances, concerts and contests, as well as visiting numerous belfries of Yaroslavl, Rostov Veliky and other cities.

The reserve museum Kizhi (in Karelia) is one of the few museums reviving the art of bell ringers of the North. Throughout centuries the masters of that region were creating their own ringing style, at the same time following the basic canons.

The first festival of bell ringing was held there in 1998 on the initiative of the Kizhi museum jointly with the Russian Bell Ringing Art Association. The festival celebrated the tenth anniversary since the rebirth of ringing on the Island of Kizhi. The organizers of the event aimed at saving the art and traditions of Northern Russian bell ringing.

The old town of Suzdal, an open-air museum and a reserve of ancient architecture also welcomes visitors to listen to bell ringing and masters to demonstrate their art. When bell ringing of all the churches filled the surroundings, there was an impression of a city not smaller than Moscow, - wrote a 19th century traveler about his journey to Suzdal.

Similar events are held in Vladimir, Yekaterinburg, Arkhangelsk, and other cities of Russia. For several years ringing festivals have been held on the territory of Andronikov Monastery in Moscow.

One can get to a bell ringing festival on ones own or by ordering a special tour in a travel company: such journeys are provided not only by pilgrimage services.

Get acquainted with the history of bells in the museums:


Museum of Music Instruments (Saint Petersburg)

The museum boasts a unique collection: from antique bronze Chinese bells, which have no clappers and are decorated with a variety of symbolical emblems and the bells used in Buddha temples to beat the rhythm of prayers to big and little bells used as music instruments.



Museum of Valdai Bell (Valdai, Novgorod region).

The exposition of the Bell Museum presents exhibits on bell casting traditions of various countries and features the history of Valdai hand bell. The museum acquaints its visitors with the peculiarities of various sorts of bells, such as church, shepherds, coachmans, door, office, ship, fire, and souvenir bells and little bells. Bells located in belfries give visitors a chance to listen to their ringing, observe ringing techniques and methods, and even try ringing themselves. The museum funds harbour records of the most famous bell ringing compositions, documents on the history of bell ringing, relative books, as well as contacts of bell researchers, casters, ringers, etc.



Museum Music and Time (Yaroslavl)

The museum founder John Mostoslavsky has been gathering the collection of unique antiques for forty years. The collection started from a little bell acquired by him at the age of fourteen. At the moment the highlight of the museum is the collection presenting a wide range of bells, the number of them amounting to over half a million units.


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