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Greek-song-in-the-19th-and-20th-century

[Den potho tin idoni/ I am not longing for pleasure], Korinthios, Zosef, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC

 

 

Our story is based on the unique collection of Greek songs of the Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” and covers a wide range of songs that embody both scholarly and popular music expression, taking into account that these compositional styles addressed wider audiences, whom they had no special music education. Through its content we can observe the evolution of  Greek song from the 19th century until today, something that comes in close relation to the historical outline of Greece.

THE COLLECTION

Music Library of Greece ‘Lilian Voudouri’ collection of songs for voice and piano contains approximately 6000 titles, with almost half of them purchased from a single collector, while the remaining 3000 songs have been embodied from many different sources such as donations, purchases from a flea market and secondhand bookshops etc.

[Apochorismos/Separation] , Lambelet, Napoleon, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, Public Domain Mark[Apochorismos/Separation] , Lambelet, Napoleon, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, Public Domain Mark

 

During the years of the Ottoman occupation in mainland Greece, Heptanisa (Ionian islands) have been the only part of the Greek world of that time that remained under the influence of the West, because they were under an English or French command. This resulted to a closer connection with the western spirit and the ability to absorb western influence. In the field of music, one can observe that there has been a close connection with the Italian popular element that was mainly expressed in the genre of melodrama. Melodramatic companies toured in the Ionian Islands and audiences had the opportunity to listen to popular arias from Italian operas.

 

Die lustige witwe [The merry widow], Lehar, Franz, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NCDie lustige witwe [The merry widow], Lehar, Franz, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC

 

The Collection

 

THE COLLECTION

The first steps

 

THE FIRST STEPS

 

After the establishment of an independent Greek country in 1827, these companies initiated their sets of tours around mainland Greece and mainly in cities that had a strong bourgeois community. These were cities like Patras and Syros. Athens, on the other hand, was small and poor, with limited artistic life. However, with the enthronement of King Otto and the establishment of various cultural societies something seemed to be changing. He proclaimed Athens as the capital of Greece and established a university, a bank and a military band. The new capital was struggling to transform from being a small town into a metropolis according to  Western Europe standards.

Venditore di Uccelli [The bird seller], Zeller, Carl, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC

Venditore di Uccelli [The bird seller], Zeller, Carl, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC

The Italian melodrama began to invade and slowly monopolize public interest. Fancy costumes, combined with beautiful theatre settings and new venues,  which were built to host such performances, fascinated the  Athenians. The only disadvantage was the language that did not allow the Greek public to fully identify with the sound. The adaptation of Greek verses to well-known arias by important poets of the time came as a rescue to fill the gap.

[Pes mou /Tell me], Carrer, Paolo, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, Public Domain Mark[Pes mou /Tell me], Carrer, Paolo, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, Public Domain Mark

The union of the Ionian Islands with Greece in 1864 was the occasion for the beginning of a new era for the music of the country. The communication channel opened between Athens and the embedded islands brought the Greeks of the capital in contact with a different culture..

[Ston kampo/At the meadow] , Lambelet, Georges, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC[Ston kampo/At the meadow] , Lambelet, Georges, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC

The musical cultivation of the Heptanese composers combined with the creation of the Athens Conservatory, which first laid the foundations for the domestic production of professional musicians, formed the backbone on which the Athenian song was later based.

[To agioklima/ Honeysuckle], Lavragas, Dionysios, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC[To agioklima/ Honeysuckle], Lavragas, Dionysios, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC

During the final decade of the 19th century, one can observe the influence that the Italian Bel Canto had on Greek songs that were composed at the time. Composers, of Ionian descent mainly, such as Napoleon Lambelet, Georges Lambelet, Dionysios Lavragas, and Paolo Carrer, wrote songs that were meant to become popular.

[Remvasmos/ Reverie], Lavragas, Dionysios, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC[Remvasmos/ Reverie], Lavragas, Dionysios, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC

Athenian Song and Variété

 

ATHENIAN SONG AND VARIÉTÉ

Rebetiko

 

REBETIKO

In later years, the musical elements introduced to the Athenian Variété, were described as ‘light’ or even ‘European music’ in order to significantly differentiate from other genres such as rebetiko, the urban songs of lower class people, a genre that was heavily influenced by the populations arriving to Greece just after 1922 and the Minor Asia Destruction

[Psili vrochula epiase/ It has started drizzling], Mitsakis, George, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC[Psili vrochula epiase/ It has started drizzling], Mitsakis, George, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC

Apart from any definition, we could give to rebetiko, it was strongly connected to these population exchange which led to changes in place of residence, work and economic conditions.

[Ola teleiosan/ All finished], Lambiri, Eleni, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, Public Domain Mark[Ola teleiosan/ All finished], Lambiri, Eleni, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, Public Domain Mark

Migration, persecution, poverty, unemployment, misfortune, social injustice, prostitution and drug abuse are some of the characteristics of a long period in the lives of this social group. Issues which along with love, maternity and passion became the rebetiko themes.

[Vrechei/Raining], Peristeris, Spyros, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC[Vrechei/Raining], Peristeris, Spyros, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC

 

Greek Operetta

GREEK OPERETTA

From 1930 onwards

 

https://www.europeana.eu/portal/en/exhibitions/greek-song-in-the-19th-and-20th-century/the-collection

 

[Dos mou dyo filia/ Give me two kisses], Giannides, Kostas, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC

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