Europe's Age-Old Bells

The Christmas season presents an excellent opportunity to sample the awe-inspiring sounds of church bells throughout Europe. This age-old tradition dates back as far as 400 AD. Each cathedral and city seems to have its own unique bell sound. Learn about the history of bell ringing here and for further listening, go to this episode of Karl Haas’s Adventures in Good Music.

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”28″ size_format=”px”]Cologne[/typography]

Let’s start with eight of the eleven mighty bells of Cologne Cathedral in Germany. Four of the bells were cast and installed in the 1400s. The 24 ton St. Petersglocke is the largest free swinging bell in the world. Listen to the deep, rich sound which is slowly built up as new bells begin to ring. Around 1:56 you can hear what I’m guessing is the enormous St. Petersglocke:

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”28″ size_format=”px”]Fulda[/typography]

Now we’ll go to the German city of Fulda. This clip begins with a single bell ringing and ends with the sound of all ten bells of the Fulda Cathedral:

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”28″ size_format=”px”]Antwerp[/typography]

Here are the bells of the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp, Belgium. This Gothic cathedral was consecrated in 1521:

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”28″ size_format=”px”]Prague[/typography]

…and here are the deep tones of the bells of St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague. Listen to the amazing sound of the larger, lower bells which gradually begin to ring:

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”28″ size_format=”px”]Florence[/typography]

Now, let’s go to Italy to hear the seven bells of the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence. Filippo Brunelleschi’s dome, which dominates the city skyline, was completed in 1461. Exceeding the dome of the Pantheon in Rome, it was a great engineering feat as well as a powerful architectural statement:

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”28″ size_format=”px”]England’s Unique Sound[/typography]

Come back tomorrow and hear a completely different style of bell ringing from England, known as change ringing.

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

2 thoughts on “Europe's Age-Old Bells

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend