Greece

The musical history of Greece passed through four phases. 

1. The music of ancient Greece has been practically faded out except for a handful of melody fragments and theoretic treatises. 

2. The well preserved music of the Christian Byzantine Empire (4th century to 1453) has developed into the present music of the Greek Orthodox Church. 

3. The Turkish era (1453-1930) left many traces in the diverse folk music and notably in the rembetika, created by Greeks driven out of Turkey in 1922. On the Ionian Islands, never occupied by the Turks, the Greek and the Western world could meet. 

4. Western Art music was gradually introduced from the 19th century and eminent Greek composers followed. 

The collection of data was facilitated thanks to generous contributions by Mrss Myrto Economides (Manolis Kalomiris Society) and Stephanie Merakos (Music Library of Greece).

ITEMNUMBER

REGION OR CITY, CITY OR SECTOR

SHORTINFO

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Greece general

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Athens

Q ancient theatre

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Athens

Q present opera

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Athens

H concert hall - A

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Athens

N H - C Mitropoulos

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Athens

N - A C Kalomiris

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Athens

J instruments

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Athens

Q Greek dance

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Athens

A Greek dance

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Athens

F Hadjidakis

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Athens

F Theodorakis

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Athens

F Theodorakis

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Athens

F Antoniou - Christou

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Athens

F Maria Callas

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Athens

N - Xenakis

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Athens

F Xenakis

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Athens

F Skalkottas

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Athens

E Skalkottas

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Athens

P various composers

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Athens

F Dragatakis

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Paleo Faliro

F Kalomiris

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Paleo Faliro

F Mitropoulos

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Peania

E Hadjidakis

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Epidaurus

special

Q ancient theatre

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Zatouna

J Theodorakis

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island Ikaria

G Theodorakis

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island Spetses

L Xenakis

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Khalkis

F Skalkottas°

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Xanthi

G Hadjidakis°

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Thessaloniki

H concert hall

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Thessaloniki

N conservatory

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Mount Athos

B monasteries

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Platanoussa (Epiros)

C Dragatakis

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island Corfu (Kerkyra)

L old theatre

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BULGARIA, island Lefkas

I folklore festival

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Q former opera

odos Akadimias 59-61, Athina

Olympia City Musical Theatre 'Maria Callas'

The first opera productions in Athens took place at the end of the 19th century. The Greek National Opera (Ethniki Lyriki Skini) was established in 1939. The main stage of the National Opera between 1958 and 2017 was the Maria Callas Hall of the rebuilt Olympia Theatre – the legendary soprano of Greek descent appeared repeatedly with the company; in the foyer, a corner is dedicated to her with a display of pictures and personal belongings. Since 2017 the theatre is being managed by the municipality; the repertoire now includes musicals and concerts.

Opposite in the same street, at nr 50 (City of Athens Cultural Centre) is a bust of the national composer Manolis Kalomiris (> 1007).

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Q ancient theatre

odos Dionysiou Areopagitou, Athina

Odeon of Herodes Atticus

The ancient Odeon of Herodes Atticus (shortly Herodion) from the 2nd century was restored from 1955 onwards – but without the original roof of cedar wood – and became the second stage of the National Opera during the Athens Festival, every summer. Capacity 5000 seats. Concerts are given too; Karajan appeared on the not yet restored stage in 1939. In addition to classical musicians, also Frank Sinatra and Nana Mouskouri appeared here.

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Q present opera

leoforos Andrea Syggrou 364, Athina

Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center

The present opera was designed by Renzo Piano and opened in 2017 with a performance of R. Strauss’ Elektra. It belongs to the Cultural Centre of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and was built on the grounds of the antique Hippodrome at the bay of Faliron. The two halls contain resp. 1400 and 400 seats.

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H concert hall - A

odos Petrou Kokkali 1, (+ Vass. Sophias) Athina

Megaron Mousikis Athinon

The Megaron, a large complex of concert halls at Vassilis Sophias street, started in 1991 with the Christos Lambrakis Hall (with large organ by Klais and 1961 seats) and the Dimitris Mitropoulos Hall (494 seats), and in 2004 it was extended with the Alexandra Trianti hall for theatre and ballet (1750 seats) and the Nikos Skalkottas Hall for chamber music. It also includes the Music Library of Greece ‘Lilian Voudouri’ of the Friends of the Music Society, which holds the largest collection of music material in the country and many archives of Greek composers and musicians, including that of Mikis Theodorakis.

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N H - C Mitropoulos

odos Vasileos Georgiou B 17-19, Athina

Odeio Athinon

The Athens Conservatoire was established in 1871, together with a drama school. The only instruments which could be taught were violin and flute, being the instruments of Apollo and Dionysos – even the piano was absent! – but this restriction was withdrawn soon. The present building was erected between 1969 and the 1980s after the design of the Bauhaus pupil Ioannis Despotopoulos. It has also a large concert hall and an important historical archive. Nikos Skalkottas studied here.

Outside is a bust of the composer, pianist and conductor Dimitris Mitropoulos (1896-1960) who studied and worked here. From 1936 he had a glorious career as conductor in the USA. His compositions include the opera Soeur Béatrice (1920, produced at the conservatory) and various works in other genres.

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N - A C Kalomiris

odos Mezonos 8, Athina

Ethniko Odeio

The National conservatory of Athens was established in 1926 at the initiative of the composer Manolis Kalomiris (1883-1962); as the most important representative of the Greek National School, he gave Greek music an preferential place in the curriculum.

Kalomiris was born in Smyrna (now Turkey), studied in Athens and Vienna, worked in Kharkov (then Russia) and settled in 1910 in Athens. In his oeuvre that covers all genres, Romanticism, Greek folklore and Byzantine music are major sources of inspiration. The Manolis Kalomiris Society, with archive and small exhibition, is housed here. The bronze bust is by Nikos Perantinos (1973); the marble bust in Akadimias street (> 1001) is a freely adapted copy of it from 2002.

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J instruments

odos Diogenous 1-3, Athina

Mouseio Ellinikon Laikon Mousikon Organon

The ethnomusicologist Fivos Anonayakis gathered a collection of 1200 musical instruments, half of which is exposed – and to be listened to with earphones – and the remainder is available for research and travelling exhibitions. The building is the fine Lassanis Mansion from 1842.

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Q Greek dance

odos Arakynthou 33, Athina

Ellenikoi Horoi Theatro Dora Stratou

The folklorist Dorothea (Dora) Stratou (1903-88) established a dance company in 1953, which gives performances of Greek dances in is own open air theatre on the Filopappos hill, yearly from the end of May until the end of September; capacity 850 seats. The group includes 75 dancers, singers and musicians, rather aiming for authenticity than for a big show-off; but the spectacle is nevertheless grandiose.

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A Greek dance

odos Scholeiou 8 Athina

Ellenikoi Horoi Theatro Dora Stratou

The Stratou dance company’s headquarters in the Plaka district has at its disposal an extended archive and library, recordings, videos and a large collection of authentic costumes from all Greek regions.

The cafés in Plaka are also the place to be for hearing the Rebetika, the world popular ‘Greek Blues’.

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F Hadjidakis

odos Rigillis 17, Athina

House of the composer and administrator Manos Hadjidakis (1925-94). In a lecture in 1949 on the disapproved Rebetika, he ‘dragged it out of the gutter’. His songs often fit in with the urban folklore; other compositions include dramatic works, film scores and some instrumental music. His Never on Sunday competes in world wide popularity with Theodorakis’ Sirtaki

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F Theodorakis

odos Smyrnis 39, Athina

The composer Mikis Theodorakis was born in 1925 on the island of Chios. He followed his family to various cities until he settled at this address in 1943 for ten years. From then on, both his life and his oeuvre would be strongly marked by his revolutionary inclination. His oratorios, ballets, film scores and song cycles represent effectively his political opinions; often the sound and spirit of Rebetika is not far away. Meanwhile he became Greece’s most influential and most controversial musician and a celebrity abroad.

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F Theodorakis

odos Epifanous 1, Athina

Theodorakis spent many years in Paris (1954-1960, 1970-74 and in the 1980s); finally he landed at this address at the foot of the Filopappos hill. Political extremists daubed the walls in Februari 2018 because of his attitude in the so called ‘Macedonian question’...

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F Antoniou - Christou

odos Amynta 6, Athina

The composer and conductor Theodore Antoniou (1935-2018) was born in Athens but emigrated to the USA in 1968 and was naturalized as an American citizen. At the end of his life he returned to Greece and lived in this house. He was president of the Union of Greek Composers. His oeuvre, in all genres, was initially influenced by Bartók, later by avant-garde composers. Among them was Jani Christou (1926-70), who is considered a prominent Greek composer although he left no tangible traces in Greece; he was born in Egypt and spent his life mainly abroad. Christou was as much a philosopher and metaphysician as he was a composer and all his music sprang from his philosophical studies and theories. For more information, see the website Anaparastasis.

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F Maria Callas

odos 28is Oktovriou 61, Athina

House of the legendary soprano Maria Callas [orig. Kalogeropoulou]. Born in New York in 1923 from Greek parents, she studied and worked in Athens from 1937 to 1945. Back in N.Y., she started her glorious international career. She died in Paris in 1977 under tragic circumstances.

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N - Xenakis

odos 28is Oktovriou 42, Athina

Ethniko Metsovio Polytechneio Athenon

The National Technical University of Athens (Polytechneio) has nowadays a ‘Music Department’ with choirs, a string orchestra and free music lessons. But a place in this website it owes rather to one of its students: the composer Iannis Xenakis (1922-2001). He signed up here in 1938 for an engineering study; it was not completed on account of the war, but scientific theory became the decisive factor in his compositions, many of which came into being from physical or mathematical models. And, while collaborating with Le Corbusier, he carried such abstract and musical constructions across into architecture.

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F Xenakis

leoforos Alexandras 8, Athina

Iannis Xenakis was born and spent his childhood in Romania, had his secondary education in Spetses (>1231) and settled in Athens in 1938 at this address, close to the Polytechneio; in 1943 he lived nearby at 142 Acharnon street. Meanwhile he joined a resistance group, got wounded, was arrested but succeeded in 1947 to fly to Paris, where he would stay for the rest of his life and obtain the French nationality. His entire oeuvre was created in France, but most titles of his works are Greek and as co-founder of a Greek Centre for Contemporary Music (KSYME) he also contributed to the musical life in his homeland.

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F Skalkottas

odos Kallidromiou 45, Athina

Last house of Nikos Skalkottas (1904-49). As a young violinist, he went to Berlin in 1921; after lessons by Jarnach, Weill and Schönberg, he returned home in 1933 as a gripping composer. There is a great contrast between his major works –­ atonal textures in classicist moulds – and his more public-friendly works, such as the 36 Greek Dances (1930s) and I Thalassa [the Sea, 1949].

Between 1906 and 1921 he lived with his family in the Karameikos area, at 35 Thermopylon st and 34a Iasonos st.

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E Skalkottas

Kotioron Koridallos 18121, (corner Thivon) Athina

Trito Nekrotafio Athenon

Grave of Nikos Skalkottas.

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P various composers

odos Logginou 3, Athina

Proto Nekrotafio Athenon

p>Grave of Manolis Kalomiris. The tombstone inscription To hamilo spiti tou Kalamoiri  [Kalomiris’s lowly house] is borrowed from the title of an aria from his opera O Protomastoras [The Master Builder] from 1915. Also the graves of Dimitris Dragatakis and Dimitris Mitropoulos.

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F Dragatakis

odos Antiopis 24, Athina

House of the composer and conductor Dimitris Dragatakis (1914-2001). He was born in the region of Epiros and got inspired by the regional folk traditions and by ancient Greek drama. In the majority of his 140 compositions, he used to apply modern idioms, including minimalism and electronic music.

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F Kalomiris

odos Tritonos 81, Paleo Faliro

House of the composer Manolis Kalomiris (>1007).

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F Mitropoulos

odos Tritonos 13, Paleo Faliro

House of Dimitris Mitropoulos, from 1924 until 1930, when he left the country to settle finally in the USA.

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E Hadjidakis

Peania

Nekrotafio Peanias

Grave of Manos Hadjidakis (>1014).

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gr1.1101

Q ancient theatre

Epidavros

Archaio Theatro Asklepieiou Epidavrou

With its beautiful location and excellent acoustical quality, the well preserved theatre of Epidauros (3d century BC) is the ideal platform for performances of the antique tragedies – operas avant la lettre. During the yearly summer festival, they can be attended by up to twelve thousand spectators. From the original music, which had certainly an active part, too little survived to make reconstructions possible; the actors recite, the choirs sing and move on new compositions and choreographies. At sunset, brass players welcome the visitors who will undergo a magic event, as this author experienced it in 1967.

The stage is since 1960 also used for ‘real’ opera; Maria Callas appeared here in 1960 and 1961.

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J Theodorakis

plateia Kedriki, Zatouna

Diethnes Kentron Mikis Theodorakis

Mikis Theodorakis, an ardent opponent of the then colonels’ regime, was banned in 1968 to the village of Zatouna in Arcadia before being imprisoned in the Oropos concentration camp; in 1970 he could flee to Paris. A museum in the former elementary school memorizes the stay of the composer.

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G Theodorakis

(37°-34'-24.705"N / 26°-2'-7.762"E) Vrakades, Ikaria

Also during the civil war of 1943-49, Theodorakis was considered a politically suspect person; he lived for some time under house arrest in an old farmhouse, called ‘house with scorpions’, on the island of Ikaria.

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L Xenakis

Spetses

Anargyrios ke Korgialenios Scholi Spetses (AKSS)

Iannis Xenakis was a pupil of this boarding school from 1932 to 1938, while his parents still lived in the Romanian town of Braila, where he was born in 1922.

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F Skalkottas°

odos Karaoli ke Dimitriou 2, Halkida

Spiti me ta agalmata

Birthplace of the composer Nikos Skalkottas, born in 1904; he lived here only until 1906. 

During the war, this beautiful ‘house with the statues’ from 1891 became the Nazi Gestapo headquarters. Today it is a municipal property and houses a non profit organization for the promotion of national traditions, including music.

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G Hadjidakis°

odos El. Venizelou, Xanthi

Manos Hadjidakis was born in 1925 in a monumental house from 1895, which after a thorough restoration was opened in 2016 as a cultural centre; also Hadjidakis memorabilia are displayed.

Xanthi is in the region of Thrakia, which historically covers also the major part of Bulgaria; the proto-musician Orpheus is said to have been a Thracian.

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H concert hall

odos Maria Callas, Thessaloniki

Megaron Mousikis Thessalonikis

Thessaloniki, the second city of Greece, has no opera theatre but a large concert hall, built in 2000. There are two halls in different buildings, with resp. 1400 and 500 seats. Platform of the Northern Greece SO.

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N conservatory

odos Fragkon 15, Thessaloniki

Kratiko Odeio Thessalonikis

The conservatory of Thessaloniki was established in 1914. It is Greece’s only State conservatory; those in Athens are private institutions. It is housed since 1987 in the fine building of an Ottoman Bank from 1903. The concert hall is named after the former actress and minister of culture Melina Merkouri.

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B monasteries

Next to Constantinople, Mount Athos was the leading centre of the creation and conservation of the Byzantine church music. Its greatest composer, Joannis Koukouzelis (c 1280-1360/70), worked here. The libraries of the twenty monasteries have kept over 2000 musical manuscripts from the 12th to the 18th centuries.

The services can be attended by a limited number of male visitors. For the procedure to get a diamonitirion [admission], see the website visitmountathos.eu/procedures.html .

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C Dragatakis

Protomes, epar. odos Artas-Ioanninon Platanoussa

Monument of composer Dimitris Dragatakis (1914-2001), who was born here. The folk music of this region of Epiros, which has a link to that of the South Albanian Tosks, was one of his sources of inspiration.

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L old theatre

odos Anastasiou Katsimidi 10-12, Kerkyra

City Hall

The present City Hall of Kerkyra (Corfu) was built in 1693 as a meeting place for the Venetians, who then ruled the island, and in 1720 converted into a theatre named Nobile teatro di San Giacomo; numerous Italian operas were performed. Thus the Greek population came in contact with Western music and at last sometimes participated. One of the results was the first entirely Greek opera: O Ypopsifios [The Candidate Parliamentary] by Spyridon Xyndas, performed here in 1867 by local amateurs.

In 1892 the building became the City Hall. A new Municipal Theatre was opened in 1902, but was destroyed by bombing in 1943 and not rebuilt.

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I folklore festival

odos Aggelou Sikelianou 1, Lefkada

An International folklore festival was established on the island of Lefkas in 1962 and held every year in the third week of August (Sunday to Sunday).

In the villages of various islands one can chance upon a Panigyri, a festival that follows upon a religious ceremony in honour of the local saint. Such a social event is an excellent occasion to meet with the diverse still living folk traditions.