Partesnoe Penie

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Partesnoe Penie


(from late Latin partes, “voices”; plural of Latin pars, “part,” “participation”), part-song; a style of Russian polyphonic choral art. The general theoretical principles of the partesnoe penie style were stated in N. P. Diletskii’s Musical Grammar in the 1670’s.

Introduced from the Ukraine in the mid-17th century, the partesnoe penie style was officially established with the invitation of Ukrainian singers to Moscow in 1652, and it was widely practiced in Russia until the last quarter of the 18th century. There are two types of partesnoe penie. In the first type, the texture of the entire piece is polyphonic, the text is sung simultaneously by the various voices, and there are no rests in the choral parts. In the second type of partesnoe penie the polyphonic texture is interrupted, the entire choral ensemble is set off against a smaller group of voices, and, as a result of imitation, the text is articulated at different times by different voices. The number of voices varied. Usually there were from three to 12, but in a few instances, there were as many as 16, 24, or 48. The texts were taken from the liturgy, from vespers, and from other services. A highly developed style was characteristic of partesnye concerti, which were written by Ukrainian and Russian composers, including Vasilii Titov, who served from 1678 to 1698 as one of the gosudarevye pevchie d’iaki (tsar’s singing deacons).

Knowledge of partesnye peniia pieces was spread solely by means of hand-copied manuscripts. A large collection of them is kept in the archives of the Historical Museum in Moscow. Some of the manuscripts are preserved in other archives. There are almost no published editions of works in the partesnoe penie style, but some examples have been printed in Soviet books on the history of music. The most recent of these publications is Monuments of Russian Musical Art (fasc. 2, 1973).


Livanova, T. N. Ocherki i materialy po istorii russkoi muzyki. fasc. 1.
Moscow, 1938. Istoriia russkoi muzyki, vol. 1. Moscow, 1972.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.