Tag Archives: rebetiko

Tsitsanis Exhibition – Odessa

100 years from the date of birth of Vassilis Tsitsanis (1915-1984)
Opening October 15, 2015 at 16:00 – till November 19
Hellenic Foundation for Culture – Odessa

w5DkPX9YuP2wV-rkj2TFSLlVAkMuQfO-rUoFy-mPfp0In memory of Vasilis Tsitsanis on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birth, HFC–Odessa presents an exhibition about the renowned singer and composer, poet and bouzouki player, who is considered a “father” of contemporary Greek music. The opening will feature a live performance of Tsitsanis’ songs and the presentation of the catalogue of the exhibition.

Vassilis Tsitsanis was born to the family of shoemaker Konstantinos Tsitsanis and Viktoria Lazou (both from Epirus) in the town of Trikala on January 18, 1915. He was the eighth child of 14 children in the family. Only four children survived, and Vassilis was named after the diseased firstborn. His father had a mandolin, which he used to play almost exclusively Klephtic songs from his birthplace, Epirus. For little Vassilis these songs, together with Byzantine chant of the church, were the first melodies he heard.

At 11 years of age Vassilis played a mandolin, which a local craftsman would later make over into a bouzouki. While studying in a gymnasium, he took violin lessons, but it was the bouzouki that increasingly drew his interest. Originally, bouzouki was a musical instrument associated with lawlessness and prison, while the violin, as an instrument of the European orchestra, on the contrary, symbolized the “good society”.

When the time came to make his choice, Tsitsanis put the violin aside and took up the bouzouki. The choice of bouzouki was the acknowledgement of identity and class integration as well as solidarity with the poor family of his childhood. Due to his skill, help from good people and some luck, he managed not only to overcome the stigma of the bouzouki and ennoble the despised instrument, but also to take a leading position in the musical culture of his homeland.

In his artistic career Vassilis Tsitsanis was a continuer and reformer of the Rebetiko, which synthesized various traditions of Greek folklore, oriental music in its Greek (Smyrnean) version, Greek-Orthodox chant and Western popular music.

It can be said that Tsitsanis helped the Rebetiko out of the marginal underground environment and turned it into the nationwide popular music, the so-called “laïkó,” which has endured and continued to develop into the present.

At the opening of the exhibition the songs of Vassilis Tsitsanis will be performed by a soloist from the regional Philharmonic Society and a laureate of international contests Aglaia Polychronidi and the Folk Orchestra from Odessa National Music Academy (directed by the Honored Artist of Ukraine Oleksandr Oliynyk).

The event is sponsored by Hephaestus Construction Company.


 – The Greek Blues

Ever since Sappho “loved and sang,” nine-time rhythms have been found on the shores of Asia Minor, in the islands of the eastern Aegean, and in the Dodecanese. Today they are represented by the 9/4 beat of the zeibékikos and the 9/8 beat of the karsilamás.

These two rhythms, in their several variants, and the 2/4 time of the khasápikos are also prevalent in the urban, popular music of the Aegean, which since the final decades of the 19th century has spread from its epicenter, Smyrna, to all harbor towns and so created that marvelous tradition of the rebetiko song. Continue reading Rebetiko

Tetos Demetriades

 Modern Greek-American Muse of World Music

Tetos Demetriades must certainly be counted among the many Greek-Americans who have directly influenced the culture of Modern Greece and the world at large. Demetriades was a singer, composer, and record producer of incredible importance not simply to the history of Modern Greek music but also to the production of ethnic music in the United States.

Album cover for one of Demetriades' records.
Album cover for one of Demetriades’ records.

Perhaps not too surprisingly, then, we find that a great deal has been published about this man in Greece and across the Internet. Unfortunately, much of this material contradicts itself. Having said that, a wealth of reliable documents exists on this man and his long career. For those of you who are unconcerned with history but who love Greek music nonetheless, you can stop reading this account and directly contact the University of Utah concerning listening copies of this man’s personal musical legacy. In the 1990s, a collection of re-recordings of all Demetriades’ known records, as a performer, were deposited by noted record collectors Dino X. Pappas and Andrew Dellas at the Marriott Library at the University of Utah. For those of you who would like to know more of this man’s contributions to world music, I offer this sketch. Continue reading Tetos Demetriades