I Vlacha (Ego 'm' i Vlacha)

Part of the content is temporarily available only in Greek

At the beginning of the 20th century, Europe is living in peace and prosperity. The “Belle Époque” is an outgrowth of previous important historical events and developments. The networks that are created and which evolve funnel both people and their products, tangible and intangible. It is within this multi-layered world that sound recording and sound reproduction is invented. Early record labels send mobile crews literally all over the world to record local musicians. The range of the repertoire is endless. Cosmopolitanism in large urban centers favors polystylisms and polymorphisms. Colonialism, revolutions, conflicts, refugee flows; the theater, cinema, radio, photography, orchestras’ tours, but also circulations in all kinds of commercial channels in a world that evolves dynamically and anisotropically, form a complex network of “centers” and “peripheries” in alternating roles setting musical idioms in motion, both literally and figuratively. The network in which the Greek-speaking urban popular song participates, constantly conversing with its co-tenants, is magnificent. Discography has already provided important tools in understanding the relationships that developed between “national” repertoires. The result of this ongoing research is “Cosmopolitanism in Greek Historical Discography”.

We stumble upon wandering musical tunes in various places in Europe, Africa, Asia and America, where local musicians appropriate and reconstruct them. In addition to these, the mutual influences concern the performance practices, the instrumentation, the rhythm, the harmonization, the vocal placement and, in general, the habits that each musician carries in him/her. Repertoires are deterritorialized and mixed with others, which take on supralocal characteristics. Musicians are often on the move within multicultural empires, serving and appropriating diverse repertoires, coming from and/or implemented by heterogeneous ethno-cultural groups. This “convergence” of geographical coordinates is accompanied by another one, the “convergence” of internal cultural “coordinates”. These are the fields of scholar and popular music, which have traditionally been treated not only as independent, but also as segmented. The popular and the scholar enter into a creative dialogue in a variety of ways, introducing in-between “places” depending on historical conditions.

This recording concerns a tune which, as it emerges from discography, was popular in the Greek-speaking repertoire. It has been recorded several times since the beginning of the 20th century in locations where Greeks had a strong presence, such as Smyrna (Izmir), Constantinople (Istanbul), New York, Chicago and Athens.

In Greek historical discography, we come across the song under the following titles:

- "Vlacha xakousti", Unknown & Choir, Constantinople (Istanbul), 1904 (Gramophone 609e - 2-12568)
- "Vlacha i xakousti", Choir [probably Athinaiki Estudiantina (Athenian Estudiantina)], Constantinople (Istanbul), October 1904 (Gramophone 2485h - 14632, Zonophone X-1045134-14573 X-104512, Victor VI-63557-B)
- "Vlacha xakousti", Elliniki Estudiantina (Greek Estudiantina), Smyrna (Izmir), June 1910 (Gramophone 1584y - 3-14594)
- "I Vlacha", Marios Lymperopoulos - Florentia Klimentiou, New York, November 29, 1911 (Columbia USA 38460-1 - E 1257)
- "I Vlacha (Ego 'mai i Vlacha)", Spyros Stamos, Chicago, 1920 (Greek Record Company GRC 507)
- "I Vlacha (Ego 'm' i Vlacha)", Dimitris Krionas - Choir, Athens, 1922 (HMV BS 67 - AO68, present recording)
- "I Vlacha", Giorgos Vidalis, Athens, 1929 (Odeon Go 1168 - GA 1399)
- "Vlacha i painemeni", Tetos Dimitriadis and an unknown orchestra, Camden, New Jersey, April 21, 1932 (Orthophonic CRC-72501 - S-617)
- "I Vlacha", Maria Karela - Spyros Stamoς, Chicago, October 23, 1942 (Columbia USA CCO-4031 - 7220-F)
- "Dyo choreftika chasapika" [medley], Nikos Pourpourakis, Andreas Pongis, Dimitris Frantzeskakis, USA 1955 (KALOS DISKOS 324)

The recording of Tetos Dimitriadis from 1932 is of special interest for discographical research. According to the DAHR, the recording was re-released, with the creation of a new matrix (BS S 617-A on 12/9/1938), on a 10-inch Victor record (82509-B). This record was released under the title “Doncella Musulmana (Vlaha the Romanian Girl)”. The subtitle “Vlaha, the Romanian Girl” does not coincide with the main title, which could be translated as “Muslim maid”, “young girl” or even “virgin”. Perhaps the company thought that they would be able to reach a wider audience with such practices. However, Dimitriadis’ role was pivotal in these cases, as he acted as the label’s manager for various “national” repertoires.

Even though this is the same recording as Dimitriadis’, the structure of the song has been altered, starting with the large instrumental part, unlike Dimitriadis' version where the part in question follows the first verses. There is no information on the label of “Doncella Musulmana” about the performers.

According to the same source, the original recording was re-released also from a new matrix (BS-045673), produced on 15/1/1940, by Victor, under number 25-5026-B; its title was “A Yiddisher tantz (A Yiddish Dance)” and the duration 2' 40''. The label reads “Jewish Orchestra” and the part that Dimitriadis sings is completely absent, apparently aimed at appealing to the Jewish market. In any case, the vital chapter of technology and of the means and techniques available to the technicians during this period, to “cut-paste” the recordings, is of extreme importance.

The tune, however, can also be found in the Romanian repertoire. A music score of the song for piano from 1880 under the title "Sîrba popilor" has been posted on the website of the National Library of Romania (Biblioteca Nationala a Romaniei). It was published in Bucharest by Const. Gebauer, and Gheorghe A. Dinicu is mentioned as the composer. Orthodox priests holding each other by the shoulders and dancing are depicted on the cover of the score. In Romanian, “popilor” means “priests”, while “Sîrba” (in Moldavian spelling, sârba in Romanian) is the name of the dance in 2/4, which literally means “Serbian”, and is found in the regions of today’s Romania and Moldova. It is also part of the network in which the respective dances from the repertoires of other ethnic cohabitants participate, in their previous or evolved forms (hora, chasapiko, bulgar, sirto, longa, serviko and chasaposerviko, kasap, etc.). See in detail the extremely interesting text by Giorgos Kokkonis, 2017b: 133-161). Gheorghe Dinicu, son of Angheluș, is part of a long family tradition of lăutari musicians.

Moreover, an undated record, with the same title, for a mechanical automatic pipe organ has been found at the Institutul National al Patrimoniului (National Institute of Heritage).

According to the database that emerged from Alan Kelly’s research and other sources, one of the first performances of the song in Romanian discography was the one that took place in Bucharest in 1903 under the title “Sîrba popilor” by the Panaitescu Orchestra and Paraskiv [Paraskiu] for Gramophone company (3354B - 10502, 3-12811 137 102138).

It was also recorded by Chitaristul Jonescu under the title “Sărba Popilor” for Zonophone (13029 - 13029 and Gramophone 3-12820), probably in June 1903, in Iași. It should be noted that Allan Kelly’s database lists London as the recording location and mentions no date whatsoever.

Another recording from December 20, 1909, in Bucharest, by S. Bernardo (comicul) and under the title “Sărba popilor” (Gramophone 10375l - 502209, 10-12441 4650) was found.

The musical theme of the song was used by George Enescu in 1901 in his Romanian Rhapsody No 1 in A major, Op. 11 (see here at 09:26’’). In fact, in the same work, the composer used two other themes that were also popular in the Greek repertoire: that of the song “Karotsieris” (see here at 05:48’’) and of the song “Karmaniola” (or “I flogeri sou i matia”) [see here at 03:00’’ and here at 04:20’’].

The tune is also found in other repertoires, and specifically in the klezmer/Yiddish repertoire, that is, that of the Ashkenazi Jews in Eastern Europe.

On February 22, 1923, in Camden, New Jersey, Harry Kandel’s orchestra recorded B. Freedman’s arrangement of the song “סערבאַ פּאָפּילאָר” for Victor (B-27565 - 73762A) (Serba Popilor).

A few years later, around 1929, Mishka Ziganoff recorded in New York the musical tune under the title “האופ ליא ליא” (Hop-lia-lia-Tanz) for Columbia (W110405 - 8189-F).

The song, in its instrumental form, can also be found in the Russian repertoire. In 1947, under the title “Vlacha (Greek Folk Dance)”, it was recorded in the USA by the Russian Jascha Datsko and his Gypsy Ensemble for Capitol Criterion (1147-5L - 10077).

In addition, the tune can also be found in other repertoires with extremely interesting performances in historical or contemporary recordings. For example:

- Sayed Darwish (سيد درويش), Egypt, Mahsobko Endas (محسوبكو انداس)
- Fanfare Ciocărlia, Romania, Doina si balaseanca
- Qaytarma ensemble (Хайтарма ансамбль), Crimean Tatars, Балаклава сюзмеси
- Lalezar Ensemble, Turkey, Ulah Havasi

(Many thanks to Ilya Saitanov for pointing out the above recordings)

In the Great Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri”, there is an undated handwritten musical score by Nikos Skalkotas under the title “I Vlacha i xakousti” which includes an arrangement of the song for violin and piano; on it is written “Arrangement: Τ. Xirellis”.

The Greek musical score was published by the A. Comendinger publishing house in Constantinople (Istanbul), by Georgios Fexis in Athens in the name of P. Tsampounaras (or Tsampounaris), by the Apollo Music Co. publishing house in New York in 1937, and possibly by others.

Much can be written about both the music and the lyrics of this famous song. First, it should be noted that it is a scholar creation and that it is not found in Greek folk-popular repertoires. This is clear both as regards the lyrics and the music. The latter refers, sometimes vaguely and sometimes clearly, to the historical region of Wallachia, located in today’s Romania, its southern part, and a small part of Moldavia. This is a complex network and a region directly connected to the Greek-speaking world since the time of the appointment, by the Ottoman sultan, of Phanariotes as its governors. The three major principalities of the region (Wallachia, Transylvania, Moldavia) are united and it seems that they start using the unifying term “Romania” to describe their political entity after the second half of the 19th century. A careful listening of some of the Greek recordings, and especially that of 1941, in Chicago, by Spyros Stamos’ orchestra, makes the Romanian musical references clear (fast tempo reminiscent of a hora, phrasing in triplets reminiscent of a sirba, presence of cymbals, “classical” chordal processions of the Lăutari, i.e., the gypsy musicians of the region, etc.). On the other hand, the lyrics clearly refer to the vital issues concerning exoticism and bucolicism. Here, stereotypical fantasies follow the Vlach girl who “wanders in the mountains” and has “the desert valley as her kingdom, and sweet lambs as her father”. These bucolic landscapes are sometimes accompanied by stereotypical musical phrases from a clarinet, which appears only in certain interludes and not in the remaining parts of the recordings. Moreover, it is played by a scholar musician who tries to “build” the sound of the Greek folk clarinet (klarino) on a clarinet. In addition, in other cases such as in the Dimitris Krionas’ recording in Athens in 1922, in these interludes, the singers can be heard imitating the sounds of sheep and cows, accompanied by bells that ring only during these moments.

Research and text: Leonardos Kounadis and Nikos Ordoulidis

Author (Composer):
Lyrics by:
Unknown
Singer(s):
Krionas Dimitris, Choir
Orchestra-Performers:
Folk Orchestra
Recording date:
1922
Recording location:
Athens
Language(s):
Greek
Publisher:
His Master's Voice
Catalogue number:
AO-68
Matrix number:
BS 67
Duration:
3:03
Item location:
Kounadis Archive Record Library
Physical description:
10 in. (25 cm)
Source:
Kounadis Archive
ID:
HMV_AO68_IVlacha
Licensing:
cc
Reference link:
Kounadis Archive, "I Vlacha (Ego 'm' i Vlacha)", 2019, https://vmrebetiko.gr/en/item-en?id=10078

At the beginning of the 20th century, Europe is living in peace and prosperity. The “Belle Époque” is an outgrowth of previous important historical events and developments. The networks that are created and which evolve funnel both people and their products, tangible and intangible. It is within this multi-layered world that sound recording and sound reproduction is invented. Early record labels send mobile crews literally all over the world to record local musicians. The range of the repertoire is endless. Cosmopolitanism in large urban centers favors polystylisms and polymorphisms. Colonialism, revolutions, conflicts, refugee flows; the theater, cinema, radio, photography, orchestras’ tours, but also circulations in all kinds of commercial channels in a world that evolves dynamically and anisotropically, form a complex network of “centers” and “peripheries” in alternating roles setting musical idioms in motion, both literally and figuratively. The network in which the Greek-speaking urban popular song participates, constantly conversing with its co-tenants, is magnificent. Discography has already provided important tools in understanding the relationships that developed between “national” repertoires. The result of this ongoing research is “Cosmopolitanism in Greek Historical Discography”.

We stumble upon wandering musical tunes in various places in Europe, Africa, Asia and America, where local musicians appropriate and reconstruct them. In addition to these, the mutual influences concern the performance practices, the instrumentation, the rhythm, the harmonization, the vocal placement and, in general, the habits that each musician carries in him/her. Repertoires are deterritorialized and mixed with others, which take on supralocal characteristics. Musicians are often on the move within multicultural empires, serving and appropriating diverse repertoires, coming from and/or implemented by heterogeneous ethno-cultural groups. This “convergence” of geographical coordinates is accompanied by another one, the “convergence” of internal cultural “coordinates”. These are the fields of scholar and popular music, which have traditionally been treated not only as independent, but also as segmented. The popular and the scholar enter into a creative dialogue in a variety of ways, introducing in-between “places” depending on historical conditions.

This recording concerns a tune which, as it emerges from discography, was popular in the Greek-speaking repertoire. It has been recorded several times since the beginning of the 20th century in locations where Greeks had a strong presence, such as Smyrna (Izmir), Constantinople (Istanbul), New York, Chicago and Athens.

In Greek historical discography, we come across the song under the following titles:

- "Vlacha xakousti", Unknown & Choir, Constantinople (Istanbul), 1904 (Gramophone 609e - 2-12568)
- "Vlacha i xakousti", Choir [probably Athinaiki Estudiantina (Athenian Estudiantina)], Constantinople (Istanbul), October 1904 (Gramophone 2485h - 14632, Zonophone X-1045134-14573 X-104512, Victor VI-63557-B)
- "Vlacha xakousti", Elliniki Estudiantina (Greek Estudiantina), Smyrna (Izmir), June 1910 (Gramophone 1584y - 3-14594)
- "I Vlacha", Marios Lymperopoulos - Florentia Klimentiou, New York, November 29, 1911 (Columbia USA 38460-1 - E 1257)
- "I Vlacha (Ego 'mai i Vlacha)", Spyros Stamos, Chicago, 1920 (Greek Record Company GRC 507)
- "I Vlacha (Ego 'm' i Vlacha)", Dimitris Krionas - Choir, Athens, 1922 (HMV BS 67 - AO68, present recording)
- "I Vlacha", Giorgos Vidalis, Athens, 1929 (Odeon Go 1168 - GA 1399)
- "Vlacha i painemeni", Tetos Dimitriadis and an unknown orchestra, Camden, New Jersey, April 21, 1932 (Orthophonic CRC-72501 - S-617)
- "I Vlacha", Maria Karela - Spyros Stamoς, Chicago, October 23, 1942 (Columbia USA CCO-4031 - 7220-F)
- "Dyo choreftika chasapika" [medley], Nikos Pourpourakis, Andreas Pongis, Dimitris Frantzeskakis, USA 1955 (KALOS DISKOS 324)

The recording of Tetos Dimitriadis from 1932 is of special interest for discographical research. According to the DAHR, the recording was re-released, with the creation of a new matrix (BS S 617-A on 12/9/1938), on a 10-inch Victor record (82509-B). This record was released under the title “Doncella Musulmana (Vlaha the Romanian Girl)”. The subtitle “Vlaha, the Romanian Girl” does not coincide with the main title, which could be translated as “Muslim maid”, “young girl” or even “virgin”. Perhaps the company thought that they would be able to reach a wider audience with such practices. However, Dimitriadis’ role was pivotal in these cases, as he acted as the label’s manager for various “national” repertoires.

Even though this is the same recording as Dimitriadis’, the structure of the song has been altered, starting with the large instrumental part, unlike Dimitriadis' version where the part in question follows the first verses. There is no information on the label of “Doncella Musulmana” about the performers.

According to the same source, the original recording was re-released also from a new matrix (BS-045673), produced on 15/1/1940, by Victor, under number 25-5026-B; its title was “A Yiddisher tantz (A Yiddish Dance)” and the duration 2' 40''. The label reads “Jewish Orchestra” and the part that Dimitriadis sings is completely absent, apparently aimed at appealing to the Jewish market. In any case, the vital chapter of technology and of the means and techniques available to the technicians during this period, to “cut-paste” the recordings, is of extreme importance.

The tune, however, can also be found in the Romanian repertoire. A music score of the song for piano from 1880 under the title "Sîrba popilor" has been posted on the website of the National Library of Romania (Biblioteca Nationala a Romaniei). It was published in Bucharest by Const. Gebauer, and Gheorghe A. Dinicu is mentioned as the composer. Orthodox priests holding each other by the shoulders and dancing are depicted on the cover of the score. In Romanian, “popilor” means “priests”, while “Sîrba” (in Moldavian spelling, sârba in Romanian) is the name of the dance in 2/4, which literally means “Serbian”, and is found in the regions of today’s Romania and Moldova. It is also part of the network in which the respective dances from the repertoires of other ethnic cohabitants participate, in their previous or evolved forms (hora, chasapiko, bulgar, sirto, longa, serviko and chasaposerviko, kasap, etc.). See in detail the extremely interesting text by Giorgos Kokkonis, 2017b: 133-161). Gheorghe Dinicu, son of Angheluș, is part of a long family tradition of lăutari musicians.

Moreover, an undated record, with the same title, for a mechanical automatic pipe organ has been found at the Institutul National al Patrimoniului (National Institute of Heritage).

According to the database that emerged from Alan Kelly’s research and other sources, one of the first performances of the song in Romanian discography was the one that took place in Bucharest in 1903 under the title “Sîrba popilor” by the Panaitescu Orchestra and Paraskiv [Paraskiu] for Gramophone company (3354B - 10502, 3-12811 137 102138).

It was also recorded by Chitaristul Jonescu under the title “Sărba Popilor” for Zonophone (13029 - 13029 and Gramophone 3-12820), probably in June 1903, in Iași. It should be noted that Allan Kelly’s database lists London as the recording location and mentions no date whatsoever.

Another recording from December 20, 1909, in Bucharest, by S. Bernardo (comicul) and under the title “Sărba popilor” (Gramophone 10375l - 502209, 10-12441 4650) was found.

The musical theme of the song was used by George Enescu in 1901 in his Romanian Rhapsody No 1 in A major, Op. 11 (see here at 09:26’’). In fact, in the same work, the composer used two other themes that were also popular in the Greek repertoire: that of the song “Karotsieris” (see here at 05:48’’) and of the song “Karmaniola” (or “I flogeri sou i matia”) [see here at 03:00’’ and here at 04:20’’].

The tune is also found in other repertoires, and specifically in the klezmer/Yiddish repertoire, that is, that of the Ashkenazi Jews in Eastern Europe.

On February 22, 1923, in Camden, New Jersey, Harry Kandel’s orchestra recorded B. Freedman’s arrangement of the song “סערבאַ פּאָפּילאָר” for Victor (B-27565 - 73762A) (Serba Popilor).

A few years later, around 1929, Mishka Ziganoff recorded in New York the musical tune under the title “האופ ליא ליא” (Hop-lia-lia-Tanz) for Columbia (W110405 - 8189-F).

The song, in its instrumental form, can also be found in the Russian repertoire. In 1947, under the title “Vlacha (Greek Folk Dance)”, it was recorded in the USA by the Russian Jascha Datsko and his Gypsy Ensemble for Capitol Criterion (1147-5L - 10077).

In addition, the tune can also be found in other repertoires with extremely interesting performances in historical or contemporary recordings. For example:

- Sayed Darwish (سيد درويش), Egypt, Mahsobko Endas (محسوبكو انداس)
- Fanfare Ciocărlia, Romania, Doina si balaseanca
- Qaytarma ensemble (Хайтарма ансамбль), Crimean Tatars, Балаклава сюзмеси
- Lalezar Ensemble, Turkey, Ulah Havasi

(Many thanks to Ilya Saitanov for pointing out the above recordings)

In the Great Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri”, there is an undated handwritten musical score by Nikos Skalkotas under the title “I Vlacha i xakousti” which includes an arrangement of the song for violin and piano; on it is written “Arrangement: Τ. Xirellis”.

The Greek musical score was published by the A. Comendinger publishing house in Constantinople (Istanbul), by Georgios Fexis in Athens in the name of P. Tsampounaras (or Tsampounaris), by the Apollo Music Co. publishing house in New York in 1937, and possibly by others.

Much can be written about both the music and the lyrics of this famous song. First, it should be noted that it is a scholar creation and that it is not found in Greek folk-popular repertoires. This is clear both as regards the lyrics and the music. The latter refers, sometimes vaguely and sometimes clearly, to the historical region of Wallachia, located in today’s Romania, its southern part, and a small part of Moldavia. This is a complex network and a region directly connected to the Greek-speaking world since the time of the appointment, by the Ottoman sultan, of Phanariotes as its governors. The three major principalities of the region (Wallachia, Transylvania, Moldavia) are united and it seems that they start using the unifying term “Romania” to describe their political entity after the second half of the 19th century. A careful listening of some of the Greek recordings, and especially that of 1941, in Chicago, by Spyros Stamos’ orchestra, makes the Romanian musical references clear (fast tempo reminiscent of a hora, phrasing in triplets reminiscent of a sirba, presence of cymbals, “classical” chordal processions of the Lăutari, i.e., the gypsy musicians of the region, etc.). On the other hand, the lyrics clearly refer to the vital issues concerning exoticism and bucolicism. Here, stereotypical fantasies follow the Vlach girl who “wanders in the mountains” and has “the desert valley as her kingdom, and sweet lambs as her father”. These bucolic landscapes are sometimes accompanied by stereotypical musical phrases from a clarinet, which appears only in certain interludes and not in the remaining parts of the recordings. Moreover, it is played by a scholar musician who tries to “build” the sound of the Greek folk clarinet (klarino) on a clarinet. In addition, in other cases such as in the Dimitris Krionas’ recording in Athens in 1922, in these interludes, the singers can be heard imitating the sounds of sheep and cows, accompanied by bells that ring only during these moments.

Research and text: Leonardos Kounadis and Nikos Ordoulidis

Author (Composer):
Lyrics by:
Unknown
Singer(s):
Krionas Dimitris, Choir
Orchestra-Performers:
Folk Orchestra
Recording date:
1922
Recording location:
Athens
Language(s):
Greek
Publisher:
His Master's Voice
Catalogue number:
AO-68
Matrix number:
BS 67
Duration:
3:03
Item location:
Kounadis Archive Record Library
Physical description:
10 in. (25 cm)
Source:
Kounadis Archive
ID:
HMV_AO68_IVlacha
Licensing:
cc
Reference link:
Kounadis Archive, "I Vlacha (Ego 'm' i Vlacha)", 2019, https://vmrebetiko.gr/en/item-en?id=10078

Related items

See also