Posthumous premiere for work

It promises to be a major evening for Greek music on June 26 at the Herod Atticus Theater, when the posthumous world premiere of the late Manos Hadjidakis’s incomplete and unreleased «Amorgos» will be presented. The prolific composer, who based his music on an epic poem by Nikos Gatsos, had tinkered with the work for close to three decades, without ever completing it. Judging by the scores left behind, the late composer, who died in 1994, had provided music for the poem’s entire first part, as well as bits and pieces for its other three parts. «Amorgos,» which will be performed in the concert’s first half, will be followed by one of the composer’s many classic works, «Magnus Eroticus,» 31 years after it was recorded with Flery Dantonaki on vocals (the singer died in 1998). The unreleased «Amorgos» will be sung by Maria Farandouri and Doros Dimosthenous, with narrative parts by Vassilis Papavassiliou, while Elli Paspala and Manolis Lidakis will deliver «Magnus Eroticus.» They will all be backed by the Manos Hadjidakis Music Ensemble, directed by Loukas Karytinos, as well as the Athens Festival Choir directed by Antonis Kontogeorgiou. At a recent news conference in Athens ahead of the performance, Giorgos Hadjidakis, the late composer’s son who owns copyright on the artist’s work, reiterated the poet and lyricist Nikos Gatsos’s conviction that «true poetry has no need for musical adaptation,» and also noted that «Hadjidakis believed likewise.» Though he spent nearly 30 years working on «Amorgos,» Hadjidakis, who wrote prolifically, had only fully devoted himself to the particular project for a small fraction of this prolonged period. The high-caliber composer Nikos Kypourgos, who was encouraged and nurtured by Hadjidakis during his formative years in the mid-to-late 1970s, was assigned the demanding task of arranging the incomplete «Amorgos,» based on notes left by Hadjidakis on the project’s score. «Despite his long association with ‘Amorgos’ and repeated announcements of its completion, Hadjidakis effectively devoted himself fully to the composition for two specific time periods,» Kypourgos explained. The first of these was in 1972 in New York, just prior to the artist’s return to Greece following an extended stay in the USA. During that time, Hadjidakis wrote the first part’s six main songs («Me Tin Patrida tous Demena sta Pania,» «Ki Enas Hamenos Elefantas,» «Gi’afto Loipon ki Eseis Pallikaria Mou,» «Ke mi Gelas ke min Klais,» «Oi Koukouvagies Ourliazoune,» and «Etsi Koimatai Ologymni»), two songs from its second part («Lene pos Tremoun Ta Vouna» and «Ti Na Mou Kanei I Stalagmatia») as well as two choir pieces. Hadjidakis’s second burst of work for «Amorgos» came almost 15 years later. In 1986, he wrote «Poso Poly S’Agapisa» and also conjured up rough musical ideas for some of the poem’s parts toward the end. In May and June the following year, seven years before his death, Hadjidakis engaged himself with the project for the final time. He composed four orchestral parts, and, crucially, reassessed the work’s entire musical structure, which prompted the composer to add a tenor, for whom he wrote four linking themes between the first part’s songs. Commenting on his own approach to the composition, Kypourgos noted that Hadjidakis’s final additions and revisions, in 1987, which, he said, presented a clearer picture of the composer’s intentions, provided him with the vital foundations for his posthumous contribution. «Instead of trying to add even a single phrase to link bits and pieces, I opted to highlight the character of an unfinished work,» Kypourgos said. «After studying the surviving score, I initially saw a clearly depicted fresco before me, which then gradually became deconstructed, and finally vanished… Whatever interventions I made, then, were precisely aimed at highlighting this character of musical deconstruction,» he added. Farandouri delighted The vocalist Farandouri, also at the news conference, expressed her delight at being cast for this posthumous Hadjidakis project. The artist also said that she was one of the vocalists Hadjidakis had considered recruiting for «Amorgos» in the 1980s, when its completion was within sight. «Magnus Eroticus,» to be presented as the upcoming concert’s second part, was released in November, 1972. On the inner sleeve of the album’s first edition, Hadjidakis presented «Magnus Eroticus» as «a popular God who lives in our imaginations from the moment we’re born until we die – handsome, young and continuously lively.» He went on to write: «I tried to create simple songs, but not easy ones.» And he added: «These songs are not sensual. They function beyond action, amid the profound feeling that characterizes any relationship, of any kind, as long as it contains the prerequisites for human communication.» Tickets can be purchased at the Athens Festival Box Office (39 Panepistimiou, tel 210.322.1459), and the Herod Atticus Theater (Dionysiou Areopagitou, Acropolis, tel 210.323.2771).

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