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Issue 20

(Spring 2012)






Markos Tsetsos: Musicological Neo-Sophistic. Critical positions on the occasion of the Greek translation of a book by Nicholas Cook


On the occasion of the Greek translation (Athens 2007) of N. Cook’s book Music. A Very Short Introduction, we present a report addressed to the Greek musicological community concerning the principles and the methodological presuppositions of the so called New Musicology. The report is formulated in the form of nine positions, documented with quotations derived from Cook’s book. 1st position: New Musicology endorses methodological and axiological subjectivism; 2nd position: relativism; 3rd position: instrumentalism; 4th position: constructivism; 5th position: determinism; 6th position: reductionism; 7h position: nominalism; 8th position: contextualism; 9th position: populism. In the last section of the paper we claim that the true interest of postmodern musicological rhetoric is to provide sound theoretical support and academic legitimation to the practices of commercial music and music industry.



Costas Tsougras: Elements of Greek folk music in Nikos Skalkottas’ May Day Spell. A symbolic mixing of diatonicism and chromaticism


Nikos Skalkottas’ May Day Spell or Fairy Drama, written in 1943-1944 and orchestrated in 1949, is one of the few incidental works of the acclaimed Greek composer. The play unfolds the fairytale of a nymph who falls in love with a young lad and marries him, but one year later, when the spells are broken, she runs away with the other fairies, leaving him to die in grief. The incidental music includes an orchestral introduction, background music for narrations, folk-like songs / dances and a lament, and incorporates elements of Greek folk music combined with 20th-century compositional techniques. Especially interesting is the symbolic correspondence of the human world with diatonicism and of the fairy world with chromaticism. The atonal and tonal poles between which the score oscillates are separated by combinations of the two extremes, with chromatic lines within tonal frameworks and diatonic lines in atonal settings. This paper attempts an exploration of the full spectrum between diatonic modality and chromaticism (12-tone or free) through the analysis of selected excerpts of the work. Also, an explanation of the symbolic elements in the score’s melodies, rhythms and harmony is attempted, as well as a description of the work’s Greek character and its structural function.



Magdalini Kalopana: The Reception of Greek Antiquity in the Music of Dimitris Dragatakis


Dimitris Dragatakis’s (1914-2001) output includes a considerable amount of works relating to Greek antiquity, which can be categorised into two groups. The first one includes mainly incidental music for ancient Greek tragedies (Medea, Antigone, Heracleidae, Iphigenia in Tauris, Electra). The second group comprises various works (symphonic works, stage and vocal music) connected with Greek mythology, which employ a new text or script. Dragatakis considered the traditional music of Epirus – his birthplace – to be a direct descendant of ancient Greek music. He believed that pentatonic scales, repeated motives, pedals and an overall quality simplicity, with which he was familiar through traditional songs and sounds of Epirus, are elements that successfully frame the dramatic texture of ancient drama. This paper summarises the results of my research on the importance of the traditional music of Epirus for Dragatakis’s aforementioned groups of works but also for his entire work, as well as the connections of his music with Greek antiquity. The musical styles of other Greek composers’ works written for stagings of ancient Greek dramas from the early twentieth century until the 1970s are also presented briefly.



Valia Christopoulou: Modernism and Greek Antiquity in the works of Yorgos Sicilianos


Yorgos Sicilianos (1920-2005) was one of the most important figures associated with musical modernism in Greece. He turned to modernist idioms in the mid 1950s, while at the same time focusing on classical antiquity as the principal means of defining a national identity in his music. In this way he distanced himself from the Byzantine and folk traditions associated with the then-dominant Greek National School of Music. Works related to Greek antiquity play an essential role throughout his output, and three of his most important theoretical texts deal with the issue of setting texts drawn from ancient tragedy. The musical works can be broadly divided into three categories: ballets with themes from ancient Greece, incidental music for the staging of tragedies, and works that use fragments of ancient Greek texts (mainly tragedies)

This article focuses on the attempt by Sicilianos to create a field within which he could simultaneously draw upon antiquity and modernism, and it traces the origins of this association to the first work in which he uses modernist techniques, the Concerto for orchestra, opus 12. It further identifies two consecutive phases in Sicilianos’s development of this dual field. In the first phase Sicilianos combines the use of modernist techniques with references to folk material, which are understood as vestigial traces of the Ancient Greek past, thus allowing for an element of continuity between past and present; in the second phase external references are completely absent and the composer aims at a more organic connection between ancient texts and modernist idioms, enabling a dialogue (rather than a continuity) between past and present. Notions such as universality and atemporality provide the main ideological common thread between, on one hand, ancient drama as perceived at that time in Greece, and, on the other hand, one of the essential tenets of modernism.



Vasilis Kallis: Modes of Cross-Scalar Interaction in Twentieth Century Music


The progressive abandonment of tonality as the primary compositional system in art music brought upon important changes in all the levels of musical creation. Regarding primary pitch material, the innovations are catalytic. We observe a new and consistent current of new methods of pitch organization, which bring on – and at the same time are stimulated from – the emergence of alternative pitch resources. In the wider geographic region of Eastern Europe and in France, regions in which the new musical tendencies are acutely conspicuous, composers, among other technical innovations, experiment with the usage of ordered musical entities, namely diatonic and non-diatonic modes able, either by themselves or in combination, to support alternative systems of pitch syntax. The present study examines specific methods of pitch organization based on the interaction between ordered musical entities in the music of Eastern European and French composers during the last quarter of the nineteenth century and the early years of the twentieth century.



Ioannis Fulias: The birth and the evolution of a composer: Dimitri Mitropoulos in 1910s


Dimitri Mitropoulos (1896-1960) was one of the leading conductors in both America and Europe in 1940s and 1950s. Less known is his earlier compositional career during 1910s and the years 1924-1928 (and sporadically until 1937), which resulted in the production of 36 original works in total. Nevertheless, some of them, deriving from the second creative period of Mitropoulos (in 1920s), are already highly appreciated as the first Greek compositions in modern (atonal, dodecaphonic, etc.) music. On the other hand, few of his earlier works have been studied until now, despite their artistic value and their significance for the comprehension of the evolution of Mitropoulos himself as a composer. Thus, the present paper makes a systematic overview of these 25 works that Mitropoulos wrote up to 1920, elucidating their various – not only foreign, but also local – stylistic influences and commenting on some aspects of music genres and forms.



Nikos Tzioumaris: Music Library of ERT SA: The history of Music Ensembles of Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (1938-2010) – Part II (From late 1960s until nowadays)


This article is the first systematic study on Greek radio orchestras, namely the current Ensembles of ERT. Our research focused on official documents, magazines such as Radioprogramma and Trito Programma, which were published by Hellenic Broadcasting from time to time, catalogues of recordings, handwritten scores and concert programs kept in the archives of ERT SA. Our subject is developed chronologically in order to compose as adequately as possible the history of Music Ensembles of ERT. Writing this story it was necessary to include data about the general history of Greek radio. This is because the orchestras up to 1993 were an organic part of radio programs, which means that any of their activity obeys the general policy adopted by the central management of Hellenic Broadcasting. From 1993 onwards the Ensembles of ERT constitute a separate division at the Hellenic Broadcasting.

This article contains many details about the repertoire of orchestras, conductors who have run them, the concert and radio appearances made by orchestras, but also about the overall policy and aesthetics adopted by each administration of the corporation. As a result of our investigation, the desire of the audience and the aesthetics of the executives were the main factors shaping hitherto the style of these ensembles in Greece.



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