Travellers, Philhellenes and visions of Greek music
The emergence of Greece and Greek nationalism, claims MICHAEL CHRISTOFORIDIS, played an important role in shaping the Romantic music tradition of the 19th century.
It displays a combination of musical influences, primarily following the model of the French Marseillaise, and employing elements of Italian opera (then in vogue in Corfu).
While admired by King Otto, it was not adopted as the official national anthem until 1862.
The early 19th century also gave rise to musical works that constructed Greece as Western in opposition to Turkey as Oriental. This was especially the case in Vienna, an important centre of philhellenism.
It was achieved through reference to the alla turca style (evident in Mozart’s popular classic, ‘Ronda alla turca’), which appeared after the 1683 Siege of Vienna by the Ottomans, and is meant to evoke the Turkish military Janissary bands.
Works such as Beethoven’s The Ruins of Athens (1811) began evoking the struggle for Greek independence as a contrast between the Turks, as represented by this alla turca style, and a Greece represented by the most exalted of European choral and symphonic styles (without any reference to any form of contemporary or historical Greek music).
In the his famous Nineth symphony, Beethoven weaves this struggle into the fabric of the famous choral Finale, with his setting of Schiller’s Ode to Joy acting as the ultimate representation of this style of “Greek” philhellene music.
However, in the aftermath of the War of Independence we also see the start of Greek music being viewed as Oriental, and this coincides with the rise of musical exoticism in Western music. From the 1820s the increasing number of foreigners in Greece saw the rise of musical souvenirs of the Orient penned by these such visitors.
These musical works tried to approximate some elements of the melody, rhythm or accompaniment of Greek folk music, that differentiated it from Western music of the time.
Felicien David, the recognised pioneer of Romantic musical exoticism, actually had his first encounter with ‘Oriental’ music among the Greeks in Smyrna in 1833.
His first piano pieces from this period, included in his Oriental Melodies of 1836, were based on the music he heard in Smyrna.
Music initially provided great challenges for Europeans trying to construct an identity for the Modern Greeks.
The arguments over Greece’s classical heritage and the exotic-Western dichotomy set up in the early decades of the 19th century continued to resonate in European depictions of Greek music for decades, and presented challenges for Greek composers well into the 20th century.
Michael Christoforidis is a senior lecturer in musicology at the Faculty of the VCA and Music at The University of Melbourne.
- Register Now
- Mykonos: Something to 'Crowe' about
- Greek community pays tribute to Hazel Hawke
- Melbourne Heart signs Massimo Murdocca
- Gastronomy Days at Benaki Museum
- Greek men affected by crisis
- Greece honours Australian WWII veterans
- Christopoulos to open new Melb Cafe
- Philippoussis vs furry animals
- New rules for reverse mortgages
- Tax overhaul draft sees no declarations for single incomes
- 8 May 2013 | 13 Votes
- 3 May 2013 | 9 Votes
- 15 May 2013 | 9 Votes
- 8 May 2013 | 9 Votes
- 22 May 2013 | 8 Votes
- 13 May 2013 | 8 Votes
More from this Section
- Greece honours Australian WWII veterans
- Angelopoulos' Greek drama
- Political history in the Arts
- Marxist reporter won praise for his work
- Eurovision 2013: The kitsch and the high notes
- Myth versus reality: Athens during the peak of the crisis
- The Constantinople spirit
- The outfit says it all
- Unravelling Greece's crisis
- Crossing into the unknown
From its humble beginnings, telecommunications company Star21 is growing nationally and services big names like Crown Casino and Metricon Homes
Tennis ace Mark Philippoussis is facing some furry competition for the affection of his girlfriend
Vevi and Corinth targeted in attempt to locate troops buried anonymously
Victorian Energy Minister Nicholas Kotsiras says more information protects consumers and could help them save money
NSW is Australia's first state to recognise the genocides and hopes are that other states will follow
Highly sought after fashion stylist Vass Arvanitis talks to Neos Kosmos about the styling industry and gives advice on what to wear this winter
Thanasi Tiliakos' scholarship to Scots College is a dream come true
The 4.2-billion-euro installment is expected on Friday
The fate of a contentious anti-racism bill will have to be determined by the leaders in the fragile coalition
Senator claims Labor's asylum seeker policy is the reason for the government turning a blind eye to the Malaysian election result
Coming off his first sold-out Australian tour in 2012, the popular Greek singer is branching out to his far away fans and will bring a new, more energetic show.
Head coach John Aloisi is on a scouting hunt in Europe
NSW government donated of $29,450 to the Greek Orthodox Parish and Community of the Holy Apostles
Coach Graham Arnold still has high hopes for a win next week
Victorian veterans and families to receive Medals of Honour from Greek Army chief
Kathy Tsaples famous recipe for a spinach pita
On top of the $26 million allocated for the 2013-14 budget, the Vic government will include an extra $1.86 million over two years for multiculturalism
The football legend has won every league title in every country he's played for