Koukouzeles, Joannes

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Koukouzeles, Joannes

Koukouzeles, Joannes, famous singer and composer of Byzantine chant; b. Dyrrachium, c. 1280; d. probably in Great Laura, Mount Athos, between 1360 and 1375. Although his surname has been given as Papadopoulos in some sources, there is no reason to believe that he was of Greek origin; he most likely was of Slavonic descent. While still a boy, he was sent to the imperial school in Constantinople by the Byzantine emperor. Following his studies, he established himself as a celebrated singer at the Constantinople court, becoming renowned as the angelophonos (angel voice) of the age. He eventually turned his back on the secular world to pursue a monastic life in the Great Laura, on the southern slopes of Mount Athos. In his epoch he was the foremost composer of chants, many of which appeared in various anthologies from the middle of the 14th century on.


E. Williams, John K.’s Reform of Byzantine Chanting for Great Vespers in the Fourteenth Century (diss., Yale Univ., 1968).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire