Multipart singing in Albania and the journey of this cultural asset
Multipart singing enjoys a special status in Albania. Such status was awarded many accolades towards the second half of the 20th century. It was then that this peculiar singing started being systematically studied on and went constantly on the stage. At that time such practice became known in the country as iso-polyphonic singing. In 2005 it was included in the UNESCO’s intangible cultural non-material heritage list. Dating from the antiquity, iso-polyphonic singing became in time a cultural asset of Albania, representing the country’s original music at different festivals.
The following essay aims to show how this asset developed and the degree to which it was influenced by politics, ideology, and cultural activity, both at a national and supranational level, in the dictatorial and post-dictatorial Albania.
The urban singing in Shkodra and the epic songs of Northern Albania. Minutes from a meeting with Ramadan Sokoli in July 1999
Ten years after his decease, prof. Radaman Sokoli seems to be one of the most important founding fathers of the tradition of ethno-musicological studies, despite his difficult relationship with the Communist regime in Albania.
The article revisits the most salient periods of his activity. Then follows the transcription of a conversation of author Scaldaferri with prof. Sokoli on two important topics of urban music in northern Albania. First, the urban song from Shkodër and singer Bik Ndoja – nicknamed the nightingale of Shkodër. The second topic the article revolves around is the singing performed with the lute, in the mountains in the north. Sokoli clarifies the key aspects of performance and of cultural connotations of both topics.
The Iso(n) – a Participatory Component in the South Albanian Multipart Unaccompanied Singing and in Byzantine Chant
The Iso(n), as a participatory component of the multipart pentatonic singing of south Albania and north Epirus, and the Byzantine chant, has evolved, integrated and has been orally transmitted to both southwest Balkan oral traditions: the multipart unaccompanied singing and Byzantine monodic chant.
Participation, as a universal way of sharing, joining, strengthening the sense of community, has little to do in the musical field with the formal harmony or intervallic relationship. However, in the aspect of social activity and ecumenical sense, participation, being an old phenomenon, has been reflected also in the musical iso(n). The basic need of human nature is to participate and in multipart singing case this has been associated with the integration of the iso(n), an element of heterophonic and polyphonic musical design. The structure of the iso-based multipart unaccompanied singing (IMUS) involves two or three soloists engaged in a kind of musical “call and response” interaction, backed by the participatory component, the vocal iso. The latter feature plays an organisational role as well as a participatory one.
The origin of the odyssey of De Rada’s 'Italian' manuscripts preceding the poem Milosao
In some of his previous works, when focusing primarily on the juvenile artistic and aesthetic education of Jeronim De Rada, author Matteo Mandalà broached several problematic aspects of the early De Rada’s poetic compositions in Italian in order to trace back the origin of such poems. This essay resumes in fact those conclusions and confirms most of them. It simultaneously tries to reconstruct the so-called “premilosaic” period in the life of the poet. To this purpose, the author explores more in depth early verses in Italian from 1832-1836. Retrieved recently, authentic handwritten pages support author’s theory.
Prof. Mandalà also pays his respects to two most attentive arbëreshë scholars Francesco Altimari and Michelangelo Luna. Their recent contribution was decisive to establish the chronological order of De Rada’s manuscripts and bring to an end the challenge launched by Arshi Pipa back in 1969.
The lives of the Albanian seminarians in the Urban College
The Urban College in Rome is not only one of the long-running colleges that the Holy See and the Pope do take care for its advancement, but it is also one of the most successful ones. In this paper, the author deals in general with these two perspectives, i.e. the lifetime and success of this college, although the focus of interest is mainly on the destinies of the Albanian seminarians who have studied in this college. In view of this goal we included in this paper our own research work by presenting a more or less complete list of respective biographical data (almost) of all those seminarians who came to the college from the Albanian speaking area up to the 1870s. The use of existing scientific literature encouraged the author to undertake research at the Collegio Urbano Archives (& Biblioteca) (ACU) as well as at the Historical Archive of Propaganda Fide (ASPF) in Rome (24-30 October 2015). This research enabled the investigation, collection, selection and classification of the documentary material for the whole period in question. This paper is the result of such work, not at all easy or trouble-free. However, the author does not purport to have relayed thoroughly on the fate of about 120 Albanian seminarians in this college, who in the years to come gave their contribution to the further maintenance of the Christian faith and, generally, of the Roman Catholic Church in the North Catholic Albanian cultural area during the 17-19 centuries.
Enshrining memory. Venetian archives and their immense richness in documents on Albanian history
Venice archives are immensely rich in documents about Albania. Thousands of them are still waiting for historians and epigraphists to read them. Such abundance is explained by the centuries-old relationships between Albania and the Most Serene. Historian Lucia Nadin urges that the research must continue at different State Archives in Venice, Verona, Padua, Trento, etc., where political and trade reports were reposited, spanning 14-18th centuries. These State Archives treasure thousands and thousands of documents on commerce and not only, which are extremely useful to the writing of new pages of Albanian history. Moreover, there are other documents from the 19th century. Of no less importance are the archives of the Biblioteca of Museum Correr in Venice along with those of Biblioteca Marciana. They have already surprised with documents little or completely unknown until recently, among which the Statutes of the city of Shkodër. These two archives are particularly rich in manuscripts about Albania and the Albanians.
Albanian identity in the documents from the Vatican archives
The ottoman occupation of Albania which ended when Ulqin fell to them (1571), brought havoc amongst the Catholics in Albania. The frequent persecutions and the military campaigns to tame the Albanian rebels exacerbated the situation. Nevertheless, the contacts with the Holy See, though not always frequent and regular, never ceased. All things considered, the correspondence from the time of the Ottoman rule in Albanian is very rich and comes second only to that between the Holy See and the Chinese territories. In the following study, well-known scholar Italo Sarro points out the most important archives where a great amount of documents regarding Albania and the Albanian territories resides. Such archives, the author underscores, contain data relating not only the Catholic church but also to the social and economic situation of the Albanians.
Carlo Pardi Suma
Documents on Albanian questions in the Farnesina Archive
The archives of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs contain a large number of documents concerning Albania between 1919 and 1945. These documents do not concern only diplomatic activity but encompass all aspects of the life of the newlyborn Albanian state.
In order to implement Italy's penetration strategy in the Balkan, the Italian government asks its diplomats to promote Italian economic and cultural interests in Albania and to document the complex and varied Albanian reality. This action is developed within Albania, but it also extends abroad through the diplomatic representations which, through their intelligence agents, oversee the Albanian exiles and the activities of the nations interested in influencing the destiny of Albania. With this paper we want to bear witness to the richness and quality of these documents. We also want to rekindle the interest of those who have not hitherto been able to consult them and who have not yet been able to assess the importance of the Italian point of view on Albanian questions.
Difficult Beginning: The first Steps of State-building in Albania. The Conflict between Ismail Qemali and Esat Toptani in 1913
Based on the investigation of Albanian internal politics, the following study aims to reach a conclusion about the first year of the state-building process in the country. Focusing on a short period (May 1913 - December 1913), and a small region (central and southern Albania) the study explores the two most important power centres of the-then Albania. It lists and catalogues the conflicts between the Provisional Government in Vlora and the local government of Esat Pasha, trying to shed more light on each one. Thanks to unpublished Austro-Hungarian documents, it is now possible to reconstruct the gradual process resulting in Ismail Qemali being ousted and clashing soon afterwards with almost every important Albanian power centre or political group. Several documents from the Austrian State Archive strongly suggest that Qemali would have lost his power in 1913 even if the International Commission of Control had not arrived. Additional Austro-Hungarian documents on the other hand show how Esat Pasha managed to build up and consolidate his power in central Albania in spite of unfavourable circumstances. In addition, the study draws attention to the activity of other Albanian politicians (e.g. Hasan Prishtina) and minor power centres (Shkodra), who tried to mediate between Vlora and Tirana in order to call a new national assembly to establish a new national government.
Rovena Sakja Godo
Albanian landscapes in the pages of Rivista Mensile, published by Touring Club Italiano
Touring Club Italiano is an association of cyclists and nature enthusiasts. It has promoted for over a century now environmental and cultural consciousness, the discovery of natural attractions, the protection of historical and artistic heritage. It has as well promoted different countries and cultures too. Touring Club has over the years also devoted special attention to the press. In fact, it has regularly published periodicals since 1895.
The following essay focuses on four reportages published in the Revista Mensile, from 1911 to 1919, and it aims to offer scholars interested in Albanian history more detailed information on the tools of communication, description of the territory and of the landscape, without neglecting opinions and facts about the traditions and the customes of the locals. Exploring a long swathe of Albanian territory – from Shkodra to Vlora – these reportages are a valuable source of information about the-then Albania.
Franciscan archival legacy and its invaluable insights into the Albanian culture
Franciscan archival legacy covers a wide range of disciplines, with outstanding names who contributed to the exploration of different topics on anthropology, ethno-culture, folklore, oral tradition, archaeology, customary laws, translation of biblical books as well as textual philology. In fact there is a large number of transliterations and transcriptions of books, both for scholars and students. Translations of the gospels, critical editions of important early literary works in Albanian remain to this day a very important contribution to our culture, which helped to preserve and consolidate Albanian cultural heritage. However, Franciscan contribution goes beyond a certain number of books and essays and involves other archives too, especially when considering Albanology.
Albania and the Albanian questions in the German archives. Some guidelines on the documents, premises and the use of the German Archives
German archives treasure a large number of documents on Albania and the Albanian questions, especially from the 20th century. All documents are classified according to the fields, the reporting bodies, and the years. Such documentation mainly resides in the Political Archive of Auswärtiges Amt – Ministry of the Foreign Affairs in Berlin, in the Military Archive in Freiburg and in the Federal Archive. The following paper describes and gives information about these archives; how, where and what documents scholars can work on, etc.
In order to illustrate the data, the author also reproduces a few documents reflecting the paramount importance of the German archives to Albanian history. They throw precious light on little-known aspects of the relationship between the two countries.
The archives of the Bible Society and various “Protestant” archives as a source for modern Albanian history
The Protestant Christian tradition has a 200-year heritage in Albanian lands and was a force for the development of the written Albanian language at the dawn of the Albanian Awakening. The Protestant Movement has produced rich archival funds for modern Albanian history, because Protestant missionaries and Bible Society colporteurs wrote copiously, whether for personal and family reasons (such as journals and letters), or whether for work reasons (monthly or annual reports, official correspondence, etc.). In this article, several archives are presented, which contain documents related to the enterprises of this movement – such as those of the British and Foreign Bible Society, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, etc. – with concrete details of how these sources can be accessed.
Fund “Mark Harapi” in the Central State Archive in Tirana; one unknown translation of the New Testament and several other documents from the State Security dossiers
Fr Mark Harapi S.I. was the brother of the late Fr Anton Harapi, of.m. A well-known name across Albania before 1944 – mostly for his brilliant translation of Alessandro Manzoni’s “The Betrothed” – Fr Mark was arrested in 1946 and soon afterwards imprisoned. Author Çunga reports in this article on the content of the fund bearing his name at the Central State Archive and his dossier with the State Security. Most of the documents were translations amongst which the translation of the New Testament and the Letters of St Paul. After having served his sentence, in 1963, Fr Mark Harapi set to work to translate the Old Testament, which unluckily must have ended somewhere else, the author says, as it does not form part of this fund. Though in internment camps, Fr Mark Harapi worked diligently on his translations. He ended his days in 1974 in Shkodra. One month later his dossier with the State Security was closed and filed away.
The Franciscan archive residing in the library Marin Barleti in Shkodra
The following paper aims to bring into limelight a small part of the Franciscan archive which at present forms part of the "Marin Barleti" library in Shkodra. The paper succinctly highlights the story of this archive, how and why it now resides in the library. It also reports on the division of the material into categories. The author aims to report on some manuscripts and typescripts by important Franciscan personalities such as Fr Shtjefën Gjeçovi, Fr Justin Rrota, Fr Benedikt Dema, Fr Pashko Bardhi and others. The paper undoubtedly sheds more light on the scientific research carried out by the Franciscan fathers and others in the field of the Albanian culture.
Pranvera Teli (Dibra)
Diplomacy in the Cold War era. The Albanian Committee for Cultural and Friendly Relations with Foreign Countries and Propaganda
The totalitarian regime set up an intricate system for propaganda, serving both the home department and the foreign department. The aim was to have a strong impact on people’s mind to believe the regime’s propaganda. Nurtured by the communist regime, propaganda covering the foreign countries formed part of the Albanian foreign policy during the Cold War. A special body was created for that purpose. It was the Albanian Committee for Cultural and Friendly Relations with Foreign Countries. Founded in 1950 according to the Soviet model, it worked intensively up to 1991, when political pluralism was introduced in the country. This body developed over the years, always trying to be useful to the foreign policy of communist state. It had state and social functions, as it enjoyed the right to create and support the so-called “friendship associations” of foreigners with Albania, through the Albanian embassies. Coordinated by this committee, these associations very often acted as distributors of Albanian propaganda abroad. Such propaganda created in the Albanians and not only, the impressions that their country, though isolated, had many friends all over the world.
Documents from the post-byzantine era in the Central State Archive. The Codex of Korça and Selasfor – a case in point
The paper reports on some conclusions of a study on the Codex of the Metropolis of Korça and Selasfor (AQSh, F 488 D 99). The acts recorded date as early as 1676 and end at the beginning of the 20th century. The codex is made of paper. Its approximate size is 260 x 440 mm. The paper is thick and without lines. Containing 190 folios, the codex is bound with a cardboard cover that has been endued with a sheet of leather without decorations. The first written folio (f 5r) contains a note saying that the codex is property of the Metropolis of Korça and Selasfor, and that it was offered as a gift to this Metropolis in 1676 by Parthenios, Archbishop of Ohrid. Written in Greek, the codex gives precious information on the Christian communities during the Ottoman era, namely, on the administration and the judicial, the economical and social realities, the concept of “legal” inside the community and the political reality of the Christian Orthodox communities. The acts of this codex contain important data about the anarchic situation in Albania during the 17th century. Amongst them, it is worth mentioning the letter that the Christian community of Korça sent to Ali Pasha of Ioannina in the year 1818, or the decisions taken in 1728 in Boboshtica opposing the arbitrary actions of merchants and landowners, when the Ottoman Empire was declining. The codex also gives plenty of information about the organizational and functional methods of the Elders Committee, elected on January 4th, 1866 “after discussing and reaching an agreement”, as well as information about the different social classes. Thanks to collective contribution – the documents from this codex read – the streets of the city were cobblestoned (end of the 18th century); the aqueduct was built (1869); a new cemetery was built (end of the 18th century); the clock tower was built (1784), etc. The codex also treasures data concerning the visual arts, e.g. about the brothers Constantine and Athanasios Zografos, who painted not only the churches in Korça, but also those in the surrounding towns.
Prof. Rexhep Ismajli’s linguistic studies on the early Albanian texts
Author Omari narrows her focus on the contribution of prof. Rexhep Ismajli to the field of early texts in Albanian. After accomplishing his studies in Prishtina and other well-known institutes in the West, prof. Ismajli devoted his time and efforts to the analysis of early Albanian texts. The results of such studies were the essays on “The graphs in Buzuku and some questions of the Albanian phonetical system.” (GJA, 1972/2). In it, for the first time in Albanian linguistics, were applied the principles of structural phonology. Another important study was the critical edition of the manuscript from Grotaferrata (1710). Then, in 1985, prof. Ismajli published his doctoral study “The Albanian language in the Albanian Council”, a phonological treatise on the 18th-century Albanian language. To this topic were applied the principles of functional linguistics along with those of the linguistics of the applied text. These form part of only the beginnings of his studies which were to score high in the years to come and encompass such fields as historical linguistics, phonetics, phonology, textual philology, history of written tradition and the linguistics of Albanian texts.
Rexhep Ismajli’s contribution to the study of early Albanian texts
Rexhep Ismajli’s contributions cover several fields of Albanology. For instance the relationship of Albanian language with other Balkan languages, the presence of Latin elements in Albanian, the research related to the language in the proceedings of the “Albanian Council” (1703) and also extensive studies on early Albanian texts by Gjon Buzuku, Pjetër Budi, Pjetër Bogdani. Early texts in Albanian are widely studied in several publications by Rexhep Ismajli, such as: Poetry of Pjetër Budi (latest edition in Prishtina, 2006) and also the philological and critical study “Gramatika e parë e gjuhës shqipe (The first Grammar of the Albanian language)”, published in Prishtina in 1982. These valuable studies complete a wide range of research on early Albanian literature and textual evidences, which rebuild an important period of the written Albanian.