In 1983, choral conductor Anthony Antolini was laid up with a bad knee. While his wife and child hiked the countryside near his Maine summer home, he sat nursing his aches and reading a biography of Sergei Rachmaninoff.

In the back of the book, Antolini perused a catalog of the Russian composer’s works where he found a choral piece listed he had never heard of: The Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom. Antolini, a Russian scholar, knew the Chrysostom liturgy was commonly used in the Russian Orthodox Church. But this particular musical setting was unfamiliar. Could he get a copy?

Music stores in New York City assured him he had the wrong composer. The staff at the Library of Congress had never heard of it either. It seemed like a dead end.

Then some California friends suggested a course that led to the music librarian at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary in Crestwood, New York. There Antolini found photocopies of part books for the Liturgy. Rachmaninoff’s notes were there—but not in usable form. Each book contained the notes for only one of the eight voice parts for which Rachmaninoff had written. There was no complete score and no context to help American singers unfamiliar with the Russian practice of giving each singer only his or her own notes.

Yet every note was there. If he could borrow the part books to photocopy them, he could reconstruct the score.

The answer was no. Saint Vladimir’s music librarian was less than enthusiastic about sharing this treasure. But perhaps, he suggested to Antolini, the librarian at Saint Tikhon’s Monastery in South Canaan, Pennsylvania, would be willing to let him use the original part books from which the Saint Vladimir photocopies had been made.

Antolini rang up Fr. ...

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