05. An “Impossible” Place: The Creative Antinomies of Manos Hadjidakis’ Modernism



1. Μάνος Χατζιδάκις, Ο Μεγάλος Ερωτικός

1. Manos Hadjidakis, Megalos Erotikos

Notos/Lyra SNL 3901, 1972, 33 ⅓ rpm.


Flery Dadonaki, Dimitris Psiarianos: vocals; Dmitris Vraskos: violin, mandolin; Andreas Rodousakis & Nikos Tsesmelis: doublebass; Dimitris Fampas: guitar I; Vasilis Tenidis: guitar II; Hronis Sofras: harp; Giorgos Katsikakis: cello; Lefteris Psomiadis: piano I; Haris Andreadis: piano II; Pandelis Despotidis: lute (track 10); Giorgos Hadjithomas: bouzouki (track 8); Elli Nikolaidi: choir director.

1. With the first drop of rain [Odysseas Elytis (1911—1996)]
2. I love you [Myrtiotissa (1885-1968)]
3. Days of 1903 [C. P. Cavafy (1863-1933]
4. Who is frenzied with love? [Giorgos Sarandaris (1908-1941)]
5. Lianogragouda [Words: Anonymous, from the demotic tradition]
6. Away on the misty river [Nikos Gatsos (1911-1992)]
7. The dream [Dionisios Solomos (1798 - 1857)]
8. Beseech you Gongyla [Sappho, Lesbos, sometime between 630 BC and 612 BC.]
9. You, Eros [from Euripides’ Medea, first produced in 431 BC; Modern Greek translation by Pandelis Prevelakis]
10. Passions of love [Excerpt from Erofili, written by Georgios Chortatzis (1545-1610) sometime between 1595-1600]
11. For love is strong as death [Excerpts from the Song of Solomon]





Hadjidakis began writing the song cycle Meghalos Erotikos in New York in June 1972, completing it in Athens in October of that year. With few exceptions (that include his unfinished attempt to set into music Nikos Gatsos’ groundbreaking poem Amorgos), Hadjidakis refrained from setting poetry into music. Meghalos Erotikos is therefore quite exceptional in that it is based on Greek poetry that spans 2,700 years (with one exception, an excerpt from the Song of Solomon). Recorded by Stelios Giannakopoulos at Columbia Studios, Athens, between September 16 and November 28, 1972, Meghalos Erotikos was published later that year, with artwork by Yannis Moralis (1916–2009).


The powerful aura of Meghalos Erotikos recording process has been captured in Pandelis Voulgaris’ same-titled movie, which includes shots where Hadjidakis and his musicians can be seen working in the studio.


2. Μάνος Χατζιδάκις, “Σ’ Αγαπώ”

2. Manos Hadjidakis, “S’Agapo” (I Love You)

From: Manos Hadjidakis, Spiros Sakkas, Recital. Serius SMH 89 005/6 – MBI, 1989, double album, 33 ⅓ rpm.


Spiros Sakkas: voice; Manos Hadjidakis: piano.





Originally track 2 of Meghalos Erotikos, this song sets into music a poem by Myrtiotissa (1885-1968). Myrtiotissa had sent this poem to Hadjidakis accompanied by a letter where she was kindly asking him to set it into music. Hadjidakis seems to have somehow missed that letter; he read it, finally, in New York, after the poet’s death. As he has said, it was that letter that triggered the composition of the whole cycle. Later in 1970s and early 1980s Hadjidakis worked closely with baritone Spiros Sakkas (b. 1938), a versatile singer noted for his close collaboration with Iannis Xenakis and numerous other avant-garde composers. Hadjidakis transcribed six songs from Meghalos Erotikos for piano and voice, presenting them with Sakkas in a number of recitals. Recital, a record that is the outcome of this project, was recorded in 1978, “at a moment when we believed we couldn’t improve any further” as Hadjidakis states in the record liner notes.


3. Μάνος Χατζιδάκις, Έξη Λαϊκές Ζωγραφιές

3. Manos Hadjidakis, Exi Laikes Zografies (Six Popular Paintings)

Philips/EP 6483001, 1970, 33 ⅓ rpm.


Manos Hadjidakis: piano.




One of the first and most popular performances of Rallou Manou’s Hellenic Chorodrama has been Six Popular Paintings (1951), a ballet based on a piano suite where Hadjidakis re-works six Rebetiko songs. This recording for piano solo was made in November 1959.



There also exists a version for two pianos, where composer and pianist Argiris Kounadis joins Hadjidakis. This recording was made in Paris in 1958.



4. Βασίλης Τσιτσάνης, “Συννεφιασμένη Κυριακή”

4. Vasilis Tsitsanis, “Sinefiasmeni Kiriaki” (Cloudy Sunday)

From: Vasilis Tsitsanis, no. 2., 1938-1955, Columbia 2J056 70194, 1975, 33 ⅓ rpm.


Prodromos Tsaousakis, Sotiria Belou, voice.




This is the first recording (1948) of one of the six Rebetico songs that Hadjidakis re-worked for his piano suite Six Popular Paintings. It was composed Vasilis Tsitsanis (1915-1984). Tsitsanis claimed total authorship of the lyrics of the song but it may be the case that his old friend Alekos Gouveris might have contributed to them.


5. Μάνος Χατζιδάκις, 15 Εσπερινοί

5. Manos Hadjidakis, 15 Esperinoi (15 Vespers)

Philips/Peters International LPS 1, 1964, 33 ⅓ rpm.


Manos Hadjidakis: piano; Dimitrios Fampas, Gerasimos Miliaresis: guitars; Aliki Krithari: harp; Andreas Rodousakis: doublebass.




15 Esperinoi (15 Vespers) constitute an effort on the part of Hadjidakis to create a more intimate version of some of his highly popular tunes. In the record liner notes he states:
“With these fifteen Vespers, I am selecting my scattered sensitivity, giving it to you just as it was born, in its real base, where the merchants will not be able to destroy its appearance”


6. Manos Hadjidakis, Lale Andersen, “Matrosen-Matrosen”



Lale Andersen (the singer of “Lili Marleen”, a song that had deeply moved Hadjidakis during his youth) sings his “Matrosen-Matrosen”. This video recording was made in 1963 in Athens for an ORTF broadcast, homage to Manos Hadjidakis (“Carte Blanche à Manos Hadjidakis”). As Ioannis Botsas, a dedicated collector of Hadjidakis archival material states, Andersen’s recordings of Hadjidakis’ songs that were made during her visit in Athens in 1963 were never released.



This version of the song was recorded and produced in Germany. It was issued in:
Lale Andersen, Matrosen-Matrosen, Electrola 45-EG-9326, 1964, 45 rpm.


7. Μάνος Χατζιδάκις, “Μανούλα μου”

7. Manos Hadjidakis, “Manoula mou”



Rare live video recording of Hadjidakis conducting his dedicated music ensemble during mid 1980s. The song is here sung by Ilias Liougos. “Manoula mou” was first heard in 1959 as part of Hadjidakis’ music for Iakovos Kambanelis’ play Paramithi choris onoma (Kambanelis is also signing the lyrics of the song). The song appeared in 1962 in Hadjidakis’ Street of Dreams, and was recorded with the voice of Lakis Papas. The song appeared again in People’s Market: 30 songs 1959-1975 (1987), a collection of Hadjidakis’ songs newly orchestrated by composer Nikos Kypourgos. In this recording, the song was sang by Ilias Liougos:


From: Manos Hadjidakis, Laiki Agora [People’s Market], EMI/Columbia 062-1701901, triple album, 1987, 33 ⅓ rpm.