Composer, musicologist and writer Takis Kalogeropoulos (1946-2009) dedicated himself to a lifelong service of Greek art music, as a composer, researcher, writer, editor and/or translator of large volumes of musicological research and similar works, like those on the Athens State Orchestra [Memory of D. Mitropoulos (1990), The Athens State Orchestra at the Athens Concert Hall (1991), The Athens State Orchestra at the Athens Festival 1991, and the lavish album Athens State Orchestra. Prehistory and History, for the 60th anniversary of the Orchestra (2004)], as well as the Greek edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Music, by Michael Kennedy (pub. Yallelis, Athens 1993), where he added many explanatory remarks and special notes, making a three-volume edition out of the one-volume original. In the period 1994-2002, he compiled the seven-volume Dictionary of Greek Music, from Orpheus to the Present Day (pub. Yallelis); as he informs us in his foreword, in its more than 4,000 pages, he allowed hospitable space to all the people of Greek Music (or those that declare themselves to be such), without gradations of quality, preferences or exclusions. And, we add, without any state funding and with very few, unpaid, collaborators. The sum total of his texts exceeds 750!
Takis (Panayotis) Kalogeropoulos was born in Athens (6.7.1946) and died at the town of Rio in the Peloponnese (31.10.2009) after a serious road accident. He was descended from old families of Zakynthos and Crete.
From an early age, he studied music with his mother, a pupil of the Kalomiris couple (piano), and with Constantinos Kydoniatis (advanced theory and orchestration), Georgios Sklavos (instrumentation), and Evanghelos Evangheliou (trumpet) at the Athens Conservatory. He also received private violin, piano and Byzantine music lessons.
In December 1970, by assembling some fine young musicians, he founded and directed the “Panharmonia” Youth Symphony Orchestra, which evolved under his direction into an active young ensemble with which he performed a considerable number of Greek and foreign works in Greek premieres. In autumn 1970, Kalogeropoulos resigned and settled in Vienna, where he studied privately with Egon Wellesz among others. He returned to Athens in 1978, and spent the rest of his life composing, carrying out research, and writing.
His compositions include three symphonic poems, Tryphon and Chrysofrydi (to the poetry of Ioannis Gryparis, for symphony orchestra, 1971, 1976), A Whole Night (based on the poem by Aris Alexandrou, for solo oboe and symphony orchestra, 1972, 2004), and The Volleyball (for 10 hornists and 10 percussionists, 1986; for 16 brass instruments and percussion, 2008), many chamber music works, and a variety of compositions for wind ensembles or symphony orchestra. Among them are Scarabs, Terracottas and Lighthouse Keepers (song cycle to the poetry of Ioannis Gryparis, with piano or symphony orchestra, 1974-76), Four Greek Dances (for 10 wind instruments, 1979-80), Debussiana (for 8 wind instruments, 1981), Christmas Fantasy (for 10 performers of wind instruments who also play percussion instruments, 1982), and Cretan Sonatina (for oboe and piano, 1982-83). Also, Apostrophe (or Soap Opus, based on the poem by Kostas Karyotakis, for tuba, oboe and piano, 1986), and many transcriptions for wind instruments (he collaborated as orchestrator with the wind instrument ensemble “Nikolaos Mantzaros”), as well as an elaboration-adaptation (for wind orchestra, 1985-89) of Twelve Greek Dances out of Nikos Skalkottas’s36 Greek Dances. As an adolescent, he had composed the opera The Magician with which he presented himself to Kydoniatis, around the age of sixteen, hoping to be accepted as his pupil.
Works by Kalogeropoulos have been performed in Greece, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, the former Soviet Union, and Canada; LP and CD recordings have been made by “Motivo”.
He was a member of the Greek Composers’ Union and a basic collaborator of its periodical (“Antiphono”), vice-president (elected by the musicians) of the Athens State Orchestra Artistic Committee (1990-94), and an honorary member of that orchestra’s Society of Musicians.
He received awards from the Universities of Milan and Genoa (1993) for musicological studies on 19th-century Italian music.
Kalogeropoulos’s music, deeply influenced by that of his teacher Constantinos Kydoniatis, is characterized by a partly satirical mood and is, for the most part, programmatic. The composer possesses a profound knowledge of all the capabilities of, especially, wind and percussion instruments, a fact that is obvious in his entire oeuvre. He often borrows familiar motifs from the international musical literature, which he ingeniously invests with a light-hearted tone. He also makes use of melodies from various parts of Greece.
Takis Kalogeropoulos was married to the eminent naïf painter and former leading singer at the Vienna State Opera Sophia Kalogeropoulou, née Mazaraki; they had two daughters, Dione and Daphne.
Christos I. Kolovos PhD
English translation by Helena Grigorea