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Κυριακή, 20 Μαΐου 2007

PETROS PELOPONNESIOS: A GREAT GREEK MUSICIAN & COMPOSER OF THE 18th CENTURY

Petros Peloponnesios (1740-1778) Great Greek Musician and composer who lived and worked in the multicultural society of 18th century of Constantinople. At this time,the city, musically speaking, was prevaded by a spirit of rivival and openness to new ideas. The bulk of his work was produced during the second great flowering of ecclesiastical (church) music, a period which "coincided with that of a flurishing of Hellenism in general ,itself characherized by an identical creative and reforming surge". A host of great musical figures with dynamic creativity shaped an artistic scene that rivalled those of earlier periords. Important figures served as Protopsaltis or Lampadarios and organized workshops. At the same time, individual copyists produced an impressive quantity of manuscripts often of exceptional beauty and eleqance. It was also in this period that the attempt to simplify the system of notation entered its last fase, leading to the reform of 1814. In the sphere of musical composition, there was a tentency to abridge old chants, as well as composing new ones. Together these formed the "authentic and genuine" repertory of the whole of the Greek Orthodox Church and not only that. The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (Phanar, Istanbul) became firmly established as the indisputable centure and principal custodian of the so-called "patriarchal style". This church also came to represent the highest honour of all those who served in it as Protopsaltis, Lampadarios, Domestikos, or even as a kanonarchis. In 1776 the second Paatriarchal School of Music was founded by Patriarch Samuel with Daniel Protopsaltis as its first teacher. Petros himself also worked there, teaching the papadiki and stichirario.Many of the famous musicians of the time are mentioned as having been students at this school, including the Three Teachers, who in 1814 founded the Third Patriarchal School in Order to begin teaching the New Method.
The 18th century was also marked by an outward-looking tendency in the music of the Ottoman court, a tendency in which Petros appears to have played a leading part and which was not unconected with the social and political developments that were taking place in the Ottoman Empire. The period 1700-1780 "is the first classical period of Ottoman music... in which both Christian and Jewish musicians and composers reached the highest level within the hierarchy of court music for the first time. It was the Greeks who were to have the greater influence on the direction taken by Ottoman music in the 18th century. This Greek supremacy reflects the increasing power and influence of the local Greek elite, which was made up of a mixed assortment of marchants, teachers, monks, clerics, of both low and high rank, notables, artisans, scribes, the chief amongst these being the Phanariots, men of letters and dilettantes who had been responsible for conducting the Empire's foreign affairs for about two hundred years. They were vested with power, influence and the meterial benefits that access to power secured yet... they were also the first to suffer whenever the highest authority, the Sultan's entourage, required a scapegoat"

A study of the repertory, as it has been preserved in the Ottoman sources and the oral tradition of the Turkish classical music, revials the increasingly importnat possition that the Greeks (Romioi) held in the learned music of Constantinople, as well as the contact and connections that existed beween this music and the wide variety of works by many different composers. Similar characheristics can be found in the post-Byzantine manuscript tradition, where one comes across bestes, murabbas, and other secular compositions recorded in the notation system of ecclesiastical music. Between the second and fourth decades of the 18th century Panayiotis Chalatzoglous wrote the manual entitled Σύγκρισις της αραβοπερσικής μουσικής προς την ημετέραν εκκλησιαστικήν [A comparison between Arabo-Persian music and our eclesiastical music], while Kyrillos Marmarinos, former Archbishop of Tinos, wrote Εισαγωγή μουσικής κατ' ερωταπόκρισιν [Αn indroduction to music by way of questions and unswers], in which extensive reference is made to Arabo-Persian music. It is in this framework, in which the art is cultivated with a strong capacity for absorting outside influences while at the same time continuing to respect tradition, that the work of Petros Peloponnesios should be interpretted and understood.
Petros Peloponnesios is best known in Greece as a composer of ecclesiastical works, including the famous Troparion of Kassiani, chanted on the Tuesday before Easter.

Research by Dr Thomas Apostolopoulos and Kyriakos Kalaitzides.

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