Abstracts of issue 22 (2015)

Anna-Maria Rentzeperi-Tsonou

Τhe relation between music and logos (text) in the songs of Dimitris Themelis in poetry by Odysseas Elytis

Dimitris Themelis (1931), professor of Musicology, composer and violinist, started occupying himself with composition from 1970 and on having as basic source of inspiration the poems of his father, the poet George Themelis. In the formation of his musical personality a significant role played both his studies of western European art music and his contact with Greek traditional music. Since then he has evolved into a prolific composer, who has set many poems of his contemporary Modern Greek poets to music. In this study it will be examined the way that he sets to music the poems by Odysseas Elytis “Epta Nychterina Eptasticha” (“Seven nocturnal poems of seven verses”) and “Mikri prasini thallassa” (“Little green sea”) with emphasis on the relation between music and logos (text). The “Seven nocturnal poems of seven verses” belong to the first poems of Elytis. They were written in 1934 and were published in 1937 in the journal Macedonian Days. In 1940 they were included together with all his till then poetic production in the volume titled Prosanatolismoi (Orientations). The poems of the volume are surrealistic, consisting of few verses and written with rhythmic liberty, exposing life as a sum of pictures with lyricism. The symbols included in the poems often derive from nature. “Little green sea” is included in the poetic cycle “To photodendro kai i dekatitetarti omorfia” (“The Light-Tree and the Fourteenth Beauty”, 1971). In the poem several basic characteristics of Elytis’ poetry are to be found, as is the approach of the world through the senses, the reference to Greek history and religion and the relation with Greek nature. Dimitris Themelis sets all the verses of the poems to music and in most points there is a correspondence between the verses and the musical phrases. His compositional style is neomodal underlying the Greek character of the poems. The accompaniment has a different melodic procedure than the vocal line and creates with its permanent flow a dramatic background, so that the poetic content is underlined.

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