Music Theory in Greece

Panos Vlagopoulos

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Volume 4, Number 3, May 1998
Copyright © 1998 Society for Music Theory

[1] Music Theory is taught at all three university music departments in Greece: the Athens Kapodistrias University, the Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, and the Ionion University on Corfu. The following are examples of music theory courses taught at the Ionion University (visit the Ionion home page at Introduction to Music Theory (2 semesters), Historical Harmony (4 semesters), Music Analysis (2 semesters), Music Analysis at the Piano (3 semesters), and Theory of Byzantine Music (6 semesters). Athens and Thessaloniki offer roughly the same courses, with the addition of preparatory courses in Harmony and Counterpoint. Music theory courses are conceived as further elaboration of knowledge acquired on the conservatory level one the one hand and, on the other, as an introduction to music analytical methods, especially Schenkerian and set theory. Most of the people responsible for these courses were educated in England or in the United States. Professor Theodore Antoniou, perhaps the most representative example of such faculty, is an active composer and university teacher in Athens and in Boston. French-educated people, such as theorist and composer Charis Xanthoudakis at the Ionion University, aspire to a more artistically imaginative, semiotically orientated teaching style. Understandably, much teaching time is devoted to the study of the intricate Byzantine notation and theoretical modal system.

[2] Until 1990, music theory was traditionally taught exclusively at the conservatories, which issue diplomas in Music Theory, Harmony, Counterpoint, and Fugue. All Greek composers, from Manolis Kalomoiris (1883–1962), the patriarch of modern Greek music, to I. Ioannidis and M. Traulos, were educated at conservatories. Many make a living by teaching in those institutions and are thus responsible for a generally good level of music theory teaching (unlike, alas, the situation of historical courses).

[3] Musicological publishing in Greece comprises the following periodicals:

    Mousikologhia (Musicology), ed. by Oly Frangou-Psychopaidi (professor at the Athens department, author of Griechenland in the new MGG); first appeared in 1985 and is the major musicological journal, and has published almost all Greek-writing musicologists active in recent years (E.M.E.A., 12 Omonoia square, tel: +301 3216645 / fax: +301 6466071).

    Mousikotropies (a pun, combining the Greek words for musicology and modulations), ed. by students of the Thessaloniki department (attn.: E. Koliousi, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 54006 Thessaloniki, tel: +3031 995 899).

    Mousa (the initials of the student organisation), ed. by the students of the Athens department (attn.: A. Arkadopoulos, Music Studies Department, Philosophy School, Athens 15784).

    Ta mousika (Things Musical), ed. by B. Kallipolitis, is more like the Musical Times or the Neue Zeitschrift fuer Musik, and aims at a larger public of amateurs than a strictly academic one.

[4] I would like to conclude this short report by referring to an institution active in organizing open courses in music technology and music analysis as well as presentations of living composers: the Institute of Research in Music and Acoustics (IRMA; tel: +301 3310129 / fax: +301 3224192). This year, for example, a Composers Forum series was organised, in which composers of the older generation, alternating with younger ones, lectured on their aesthetic and compositional orientations, influences, and aspirations, explained their musical system, and entered in lively dialogue with what was mostly a public of fellow musicians. The names of the composes presented are Arghyris Kounadis (9 March), Konstantia Gourzi (23 March), Dimitri Draghatakis (6 April), Minas Alexiadhis (27 April), and later Ghiorghos Kouroupos (11 May), and the Amsterdam-based Kalliope Tsoupaki (25 May).

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Panos Vlagopoulos
Ionion State University
Music Department
24 A. Sofias
Athens 17123

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