Centenary of the Archdiocese of Orthodox Churches of Russian Tradition in Western Europe

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Nicholas Afonsky

Nicholas Petrovich Afonsky was born on January 12, 1892 (1894?) In Kiev and died on May 09, 1971 in New York

Son of a priest, he studied at the Kiev Theological Academy, at the same time at the Kyiv Conservatory. During World War I he served in the army with the rank of lieutenant. He organized the choir of the 129th Bessarabian regiment, then served in the White Army. After its dissolution, he organized a church choir in the Russian camp of Wünsdorf (near Berlin). The choir was greatly appreciated by Metropolitan Euloge. N.P. Afonsky worked in the administrative department of the Metropolitan, then became reader and choirmaster of the Russian Church in Wiesbaden. In 1925, Afonsky became choir director of the Saint-Alexandre-Nevsky cathedral in Paris, where he organized the Metropolitan Choir.

The choir of the Russian cathedral conducted by N. Afonsky in 1932

He not only participated in the liturgy (the liturgics composed by PI Tchaikovsky, AT Gretchaninov, a friend of Afonsky, S. Rachmaninov, AA. Arkhanguelsky, KN Shvedov, NN Kedroff-father were performed), but also gave concerts liturgical song and folk song. The choir participated in the premiere of Gretchaninov's “Liturgia Domestica” in the Notre-Dame des Blancs Manteaux church in Paris (1926). The choir received the First Prize at the competition of European choirs in Antwerp (1928). Fyodor Chaliapin recorded two discs with the choir in 1932 including Grechaninov's litany of supplication, Arkhanguelsky's Creed, "Open for me the doors of repentance" by A. Vedel and the “Nunc dimitis” by M.P. Strokine. This disc won a prize at the Paris (1934) and New York (1954) competitions. Two spiritual concerts and songs from the liturgy of D.S. Bortniansky as well as works by P.I. Tchaikovsky and V.S. Kalinnikov were recorded on five discs. The choir toured the United States and Canada in 1936, and in 1938 to Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Scandinavia.

In 1947 Afonsky moved to the United States, handing over the direction of the cathedral choir to Pyotr Vassilievich Spassky. On June 1, 1950, Metropolitan Theophilus (Pachkovsky) appointed Afonsky choir director of the Orthodox Cathedral of the Intercession of the Mother of God in New York. The choir under the direction of Afonsky gave numerous concerts and recorded four discs (the Liturgy of Arkhanguelsky, a Te Deum and hymns of the vigils of various composers, the Liturgy of Tchaikovsky, etc.). In 1956, Afonsky participated in Gretchaninov's funeral in the Cathedral of the Intercession. In the United States, Afonsky founded the Association of Lovers of Liturgical Song (1950), the Russian national children's and men's choirs, "Capella", in memory of the Imperial Chapel. With the choir "Capella" Nicolas Afonsky made several recordings (requiem, other songs). According to experts, the singing of the choirs under the direction of Afonsky was distinguished by "elegance", "splendor", and contrasting dynamics and timbre. At the entrance to the Cathedral of the Intercession, where Afonsky served until the end of his life, was placed a commemorative plaque in his honor.

Numerous recordings of the Spassky choir were made at the Russian cathedral in Paris in 1930 and 1931. A dozen MP3 files are accessible at the bottom of the page on the russian-records.com site by clicking on the reference number in the first left column. Select the files marked church-choir, russian-mixed-choir or choirs-russes in the "Title Name (composer)" column. In particular, a recording of the mnogaia let with the protodeacon Nicholas Tikhomirov, dating from 1931, is available on page EK+131-A.