McIntire Department of Music

Miloš Velimirović, Emeritus Profesor of Music at the University of Virginia and one of the world’s leading authorities on Byzantine and Slavonic chant traditions, died Friday, April 19, 2008, in Bridgewater, Virginia. Chair of UVA’s McIntire Department of Music from 1974 to 1978, he retired in 1993, continuing his emeritus affiliation with the University and giving pre-concert lectures for the Charlottesville and University Symphony Orchestra, Ash Lawn, and the Tuesday Evening Concert Series until 2004.

Miloš Velimirović was born in Belgrade, Serbia, on December 10, 1922. He began taking violin lessons from Jovan Zorko at the age of six, later studying piano under Dara Nestorovic. As a teen, he continued studying basic music theory, counterpoint, and the history of music. He entered Belgrade University to study the history of art until the closing of the university with the German invasion in 1941, when he shifted his studies to the Music Academy of Belgrade. After immigrating to the United States in 1951, Velimirović studied at Harvard, graduating with a master’s degree in 1953 and a doctorate in 1957. His PhD. dissertation, Byzantine Elements in Early Slavic Chant (written under the direction of Otto Comboisi and Walter Piston, and subsequently published in Copenhagen as part of the Monumentae Musicae Byzantinae series in 1960), took up one of the most complex and perplexing monophonic repertories in the Western musical tradition.

Velimirović had a long and celebrated career. He was a professor at several universities, including Yale from 1957 to 1969; University of Wisconsin from 1969 to 1973; and University of Virginia from 1973 to 1993. He received a Fulbright Fellowship to teach in Yugoslavia in 1985.

Immersed in music and musicianship from an early age, then deeply influenced by a love of history, Velimirović was uniquely positioned to contribute significantly to the body of scholarly knowledge on Byzantine and Slavonic Chant as well as various European folk traditions, which he studied and collected in the company of Albert Lord in the early 1950s. Velimirović was often honored for his efforts and scholarly commitment and was considered a leading authority on Byzantine and Russian liturgy and chant, and he was a renowned and much sought-after lecturer. Among his honors was the presentation in 2003 of a festschrift from his students and colleagues at a ceremony at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. Published in Russian, Byzantium and East Europe Liturgical and Musical Links in Honor of Miloš Velimirović brought together an array of work from twenty musicologists and historians from nine countries. In 2004, Velimirović received an Honorary Doctorate from the National and Capodistrian University of Athens.

At the University of Virginia, Miloš Velimirović (“Mish” to his colleagues) is remembered as a supportive colleague, a beloved teacher, and a renowned scholar. He will be greatly missed.


In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to the Milos Velimirovic Memorial Scholarship Fund. Checks may be sent to the attention of Lorrie Jean at McIntire Department of Music, P.O. Box 400176, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4176. Contributions may also be made on-line at virginia.edu/music/donate by following the support music at UVA link and specifying the fund Milos Velimirovic under special instructions.

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