Abstracts of issue 5-6 (1987)

Markos Dragoumis

Melpo Merlier’s Contribution to Greek Music

For over forty years Melpo Merlier (1890-1979) was a central figure in the spiritual and artistic life of Greece. Most important was her contribution to the promotion of Modern Greek folk culture. In 1919 she became, in Paris, a friend and pupil of Maurice Emmanuel and André Pirro and an assistant to professor Perno, in his chair of Modern Greek at Sorbonne.
She was the first Greek woman to collect and notate Greek folk songs (Roumeli 1922). In 1923 she married Octave Merlier (1897-1976), who was to become later director of the French Institute in Athens. It was with him and a group of Greek intellectuals (Penelope Delta, Ph. Dragoumis, I. Athanasiou, P. Mazarakis, Chrysanthos, bishop of Trebizond) that founded the Folk Song Society (named in 1935 Folk Music Archives and incorporated later to the Center of Asia Minor Studies, which was founded by her as well), on the lines of the Institute of Phonology in Paris.
A grant from the Greek government of Venizelos and technical equipment offered by the French Pathé, enabled the Folk Song Society to record in 1930-1931 222 78 r.p.m. plates of Greek folk music (A selection from those recordings is included in the LP entitled Folk Songs from the Melpo Merlier Collection, issued by Phonogram in 1975 in Athens).
As an ethnomusicologist, Melpo Merlier (who was also active as a pianist, music instructor and musicologist) contributed to the preservation of an invaluable treasure of folk songs.
The article includes a list of her writings.

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