Kremlin Spasskaya Tower
Clock Restored

The present-day Kremlin chimes were made by the Butenop brothers in the middle of the 19th century

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This summer saw an architecturally aesthetic transformation of the Spasskaya (Savor)Tower, a major facility with a through-passage on the eastern wall of the Moscow Kremlin, which overlooks the Red Square.

Last month, a rare icon, which have been deemed lost for a long time, was discovered over the gates of the Spasskaya Tower, which will be the main topic of an International Military Music Festival, scheduled to open in Moscow on September 4. Among other things, participants are expected to appreciate work of Russian restorers, who are currently repairing the Spasskaya Tower clock.

The history of the Kremlin chimes dates back to the beginning of the 15th century, when a small-sized clock was installed near the Spasskaya Tower only to be replaced in the 16th century with a clock built upon the tower. Another model of the clock appeared in the 17th century, after the addition of a multi-tiered turret to the top of the Spasskaya Tower.

Designed by Englishman Christopher Galloway, the clock was touted by contemporaries as “a sophisticated mechanism”, which was, however, replaced with Dutch chimes in 1709. The move was initiated by Tsar Peter I, who earlier ordered the purchase of the chimes in the Netherlands. The present-day Kremlin chimes were made by the Butenop brothers in the middle of the 19th century, explains Sergei Khlebnikov, superintendent of the Moscow Kremlin. Back then, the chimes were capable of playing only simple melodies, he says.

The 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, Khlebnikov says, saw an about-face, with the clock re-equipped with new chimes capable of playing the Communist Internationale and subsequently the National Anthem of the Russian Federation. The sound, though, left much to be desired, Khlebnikov admits.

At the end of the day, a decision was made to re-tune the bells, an uphill task that is currently being tackled by specialists from the Russian Orthodox Church, Khlebnikov goes on to say.

The idea was initiated by the Russian Union of Church Bell Ringers, Khlebnikov explains, citing the Russian town of Tutayev in the Yaroslavl region, where new sophisticated bells were previously cast.

Listeners are now welcome to listen to Russia’s National Anthem, chimed by the renovated Kremlin clock. The musical theme is played four times a day with six-hour intervals.

Source:The Voice of Russia
3 September, 2010