Abstracts of issue 22 (2015)

Kostas Chardas

Seeking the perpetual, claiming the new: Greek modernism and ancient Greek logos

From mid-1950s up to the 1970s Greek National Theatre collaborated on a systematic basis for ancient drama productions of the Epidaurus and Athens Festivals with composers who were gradually associated, during this era, with the advent and institutional dissemination of modernist idioms in Greece (such as Yannis A. Papaioannou, Yorgos Sicilianos, Yannis Christou, Iannis Xenakis, Theodore Antoniou, Stefanos Vassiliadis and Michalis Adamis). It was within these collaborations that the modernist musical issues met ancient Greek language. The present text starts with a concise analysis on how mainstream modernist elements (twelve-note, atonality, whole-tone scale, etc.) function in relation to the ancient Greek text within these productions. However, the main argument is that the ancient Greek language gradually became an important self-defining element within the Greek modernist attempt. More specifically, analysis shows that ancient Greek logos becomes a standard point of reference in works indented for a concert performance. The final sound result of these works triggers the listenerís memories of ancient drama performances, bringing into focus familiar expressive topoi (lament, catharsis, etc.), while it also reflects an organic perception of the work of art that has in its core the ancient Greek language and, sometimes, it also emanates from it.

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