Extracts from press reviews

 

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Bookworm’s Notes

 

The History of Greek Music

2000 BC- 2000 AD by Linda Leoussi
 

by Andreas Panagopoulos

From Peripatetic philosopher Aristoxenos Tarantinos (Harmonics and Rhythmics) and Iphaistion from Thebes, Egypt ( Louxor- Music study) to Martin West and Karl Neff, much has been written about the history of music. However, all the works on the subject have barely mentioned the contributions to music by the Greeks, and in many cases ignored them completely. This “oversight” is addressed in the book The History of Greek Music 200BC- 2000AD by Linda Leoussi, the internationally renowned Greek pianist. The book is accompanied by a CD of romantic works for piano by Ionian composers of the 19 th century performed by the author herself.

One can understand the absence of the contributions to music by modern Greece in the various scientific studies that have been published. But it is not possible for one to be indifferent to the almost scandalous distortion of the facts regarding the contributions to music by the ancients Greeks. To be specific, The Oxford first Companion to Music, (Oxford University Press, 1982) by Kenneth and Valery McLeish, a book which is in circulation worldwide including Greece, completely omits the contributions of Ancient Greece and Byzantium. In a chapter entitled “The Music Through the Centuries” the Stone Age is followed immediately by ancient Rome. Next to the symbol of the Colosseum, there are pictures of ancient vases that represent musical instruments, which are clearly Greek. The chapter then jumps to the Middle Ages. Seemingly ancient Greece never existed in the history of music, leaving unexplained the fact that the word music is derived from a Greek word. As well as many other basic terms of music like, rhythm, harmony, symphony, and orchestra, just to name a few. Compounding the magnitude of the error, another page, which shows a Greek vase with a woman performing a lyre, is represented as a “Roman woman playing a string instrument ( from vase painting).”

Ms. Leoussi’s book addresses these omissions extensively, dedicating one hundred pages to the contributions made to music by ancient Greece, from prehistoric ages until late antiquity and another forty-five pages to the contributions of Byzantium. The last two-hundred-fifty pages of the book is dedicated to Modern Greece, from the Turkish occupation until today. She presents four-thousand years of uninterrupted musical creativity of the Greeks in a scientific rather than an artistic manner. She proves with facts that the words of the Nobel Laureate Poet O. Elytis “My country is very small in surface area, but endless in the time of its existence” also applies to music. Contrary to Martin West who attributes a disproportionate influence to ancient Greece by Asian countries without providing facts as to which Asian has ever written a complete book about music and the theory of sounds and acoustics to match the one by Aristotle; or who gave us the “Harmonic and Rhythmical Elements” about scales (or gamuts)and intervals as Aristoxenus Tarantinos, or who, with the exception of King David, has ever been occupied with the theory of numbers and their in musical compositions as Pythagoras has done.

Ms Leoussi accepts that ancient Greece owes a debt to Asian countries, but she also shows that this debt is much less than the debt owed to ancient Greece by the Asian countries. Especially the period from the campaign of Alexander the Great and afterwards. She also proves correct Plato’s words “ ό , τι περ αν ‘ Ελληνες βαρβάρων παραλάβωσι , κάλλιον τούτο εις τέλος απεργάζονται ,”which translates “ whatever Greeks receive from the barbarians, they improve it for the better.” Greek contributions to music were disseminated to the West by Ancient Greece and to the East by Byzantium.

The biggest contribution of Ms Leoussis’s book lies in the chapters on modern Greece. For the first time there are references to the works not only of Mitropoulos, Callas, Baltsa and Sgouros, but also of Kalomoiris, Skalkotas, Simon Karas, Hatzidakis, Theodorakis, Vangelis Papathanasiou, and the rembetes Vamvakaris and Tsitsanis.

An excellent source of information not only for the laymen but for also the serious students of the history of music.

 

Andreas Panagopoulos is a critic- professor at the University of Patras

Kathimerini – Athens newspaper

 

p. I

HELLENIC MUSIC AND ITS HISTORY

This was something that was missing: the comprehensive presentation of the History of Hellenic music from 2000 BC to 2000 AD. This gap has been completely filled by this book by the world-famous Greek pianist Linda Leoussi.
She devotes a hundred pages to ancient Greece, from prehistoric times to the end of antiquity, and 45 pages to Byzantium.
The rest of the book is devoted to modern Hellenism from the period of Ottoman rule, to the present.
She traces with more of the scholar's eye this unbroken continuum of musical creation of the Greeks, which, based on ancient Greek theory came to dominate in Byzantium and from there in Eastern and Western Europe.

An important book - a true opus.


Andreas Panagopoulos
Critic - Professor of the University of Patras
"Kathimerini" Athens newspaper, 3 June 2003

 

 

p. II

THE HISTORY OF GREEK MUSIC
2000 BC - 2000 AD

By means of this book, Linda Leoussi, the Greek pianist with an international reputation, fills a significant gap in the bibliography. The author gives an account in an entirely reader-friendly manner of the development of Greek music based on the archaeological sources for the Prehistoric and Ancient periods, and then of Byzantium, whose music was founded on the theoretical basis of antiquity, but was subject to various influences from Jewish religious music (by reason of the Apostles) which it successfully incorporated into the resulting harmonious whole.
For the period of Ottoman rule, information is drawn from travellers' accounts and those who studied folk dances and songs.
The fact that she gives a record of modern times, after the foundation of the Greek State (1828), and the trends which were brought to Greece by the Romanticism of the West down to the popular songs of the refugees from the East (Asia Manor, bouzouki, etc.) is also to the commended. She concludes with an account of the modern and contemporary musicians and composers, thus providing a global picture of music in Greece.
This is a book which is addressed to the general public, to convey the lesson that every form of music, is civilisation!


Charikleia Dimakopoulou
"Estia" Athens newspaper, 17 May 2003

 

 

p. III

I congratulate you on your achievement in describing ancient Greek music in its successive stages of development down to our own times and providing the world public with a comprehensive picture of the continuity through time of the treasury of Greek music.

Dimitrios, Archbishop of America
New York
May 21, 2003


Your book "History of Hellenic Music 2000 B.C. - 2000 A.D." is excellent. You have succeeded to give the deep-essence and greatness of the Hellenic Music in the continuity of four thousand years. The beauty and the significance of your study make it a source of inspiration for the future researcher.
The quality of your unique work makes me to suggest you to translate this excellent work to other languages in order to become a real source of information and inspiration all over the world.

Prof. Evangelos Moutsopoulos
Full Member of the Academys
of Athens and New York