Main article: Music of Greece

Greek written history extends far back into Ancient Greece, and was a major part of ancient Greek theater. In ancient Greece, mixed-gender choruses performed for entertainment, celebration and spiritual reasons. Instruments included the double-reed aulos and the plucked string instrument, the lyre, especially the special kind called a kithara.

Music was an important part of education in ancient Greece, and boys were taught music starting at age six. Greek musical literacy created a flowering of development; Greek music theory included the Greek musical modes, eventually became the basis for Western religious music and classical music. Later, influences from the Roman Empire, Eastern Europe and the Byzantine Empire changed Greek music.

The connection of the music environment of Greece with that of the European Renaissance can be traced mainly in Crete until 1669, where its vivid urban music benefited from the creative assimilation with the venetian culture. The most important musical figure of Crete was Fragiskos Leondaritis (Francesco Leondariti or Londariti), organist and composer of sacred and secular music. Another key-figure of that era was Ieronimos o Tragodistis (Hieronymus the Chanter), a Cypriot student of Gios. Zarlino, who flourished around 1571 and, among others, proposed a system that enabled medieval Byzantine chant to correspont to the current contrapuntal practices via the cantus firmus paraphrase. In the 18th century art music was mainly cultivated in Ionian Islands, where from 1733 opera became the most distinctive music genre. This dynamic had as a consequence in 19th century, composers like Nikolaos Mantzaros (1795 - 1872), Spyridon Xyndas (1812 - 1896), Pavlos Karrer (Paolo Carrer, 1829-1896) and Spyros Samaras (1861 - 1917) to revitalize Greek art music. Instrumental music was also cultivated in 19th century by composers, such as Dionysios Rodotheatos from Ithaca and Dimitris Lialios from Patras, both of them adopting the -with the broader sense-wagnerian novelties in the style and aesthetics. In the first decade of 20th century, the social and historical conditions enabled the revisiting of nationalism in music by the composers of the so-called 'National School'. The prevailing current for 'national music' was that of Manolis Kalomiris, which eventually became wider accepted compared to that of Georgios Lambelet. 'National School' succeeded in concentrating under its aesthetic 'credo' composer with different backgrounds, such as Marios Varvoglis, Petros Petrides, Dimetrios Levidis, Aimilios Riadis or Antiohos Evagellatos. On the other hand, modernism made also its appearance with Nikos Skalkottas, a student of Arn. Schoenberg, being the most notable (and at the same time, neglected) representative. Dimitris Mitropoulos also contributed to the music literature of Greek modernism before committing himself to conducting. After the Second World War modernism began to prevail, with considerable difficulty, mainly because of the social and political conditions of the postwar period in Greece, as well as the dominance of the 'National School'. However, composers like Mihalis Adamis, Thodoros Antoniou, Iannis Xenakis, Y.A. Papaioannou and Janni Christou succeeded in giving new perspectives to such aesthetic ways. In the maintime, a strong current of populism related to the political conditions especially after 1949, as well as to the brief change of taste of the urban class and the initiation of the touristic enterprise in 1960s, enabled the gradual promotion of the popular song as the prevalent form, which the last decades has regretably become synonymous to 'Greek music', as a whole.

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