Skalkottas in the limelight

What recently began as a press conference at the Benaki Museum on the 100th celebration of Nikos Skalkottas’s birth quickly turned into a celebration of the composer’s work. Musicians, critics, composers and dancers, all present, agreed to join forces in a big tribute to the celebrated Greek artist organized by the Benaki, scheduled to take place throughout the capital from November 2004 until February 2005. Among the groups and individuals participating in the homage are the National Opera Ballet, the Ensemble Intercontemporain and Skalkottas’s two violinist granddaughters, Eve and Anna Lindal, among others. «The tribute consists of a bilingual publication, an exhibition on the three periods of Skalkottas’s life, musical events and dance performances,» said Benaki Museum director Angelos Delivorias. «We will try to recreate the feel of the Athens Conservatory in the 1920s, Skalkottas’s Germany (up until 1933, when he left), and the time of the Greek Civil War,» added composer Haris Vrondos, who is overseeing the event. Nikos Tsouchlos, the director of the Athens Concert Hall’s programing, added: «Nikos Skalkottas never had, during his lifetime, the recognition he deserved in Greece. It is high time we gathered all our information, ideas and thoughts into a sober re-evaluation of his opus.» Skalkottas studied the violin at the Athens Conservatory (1914-1920) and went on to Berlin, where he also studied composition (1921-1933). His sociopolitical awareness and the development of expressionism deeply influenced him as an artist. He spent years studying music and finding ways of incorporating his own personal brushstroke into the musical vernacular of his times. However, on his return to Greece in 1933, the composer was unable to reconcile his own avant-garde style with the widespread nationalism being expressed through art, and therefore received little recognition for his work. From 1925 until his death, Skalkottas wrote over 100 works, of which only 15 have ever been performed.

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