Do it yourself? Issues on the historiography of Greek music
The question of the title has a double reference. On the one hand, it refers to the 20th-century Greek composers and their habit to pose, with their own texts, the foundations of the historiographical reception of their music. On the other hand, the title suggests the difficult task of the historiographer of the Greek music today: he has to face these, often stereotyped, views by the composers – essentially being of self-defining character within the mainstream western historiography – and, at the same time, he has to clarify issues regarding his own methodological approach. Because of the absence of a solid and a long historiographical tradition in Greek music, he has many options: to record the style of the music by reference to the works and their material (since, in most cases there has not been a life-and-works bibliography yet), but, also to draw on contemporary critical interpretative approaches and to understand them as expressions of the general cultural context in which they appeared.
The present article proposes a (re)reading of the Greek musical history with a pluralistic approach, in which the composers’ texts are treated only as carriers of their own views on their music, and not as objective documentations of it. With reference to the creative path of Yannis A. Papaioannou, to the Greek “modernist” music of the 1950s and ’60s, and to the song species, the present approach tries out elements of historical and contemporary historiographical approaches. This pluralistic approach brings to the fore unseen, very interesting, aspects of Greek music and new connections within both the Greek and the western cultural environment, which, in essence, will contribute to a future wider historiographical understanding of western musical culture, one which will take into account what until recently was considered as “peripheral”.