Thelo spiti kai lefta

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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”.

In 1939, the song with the title "Thelo spiti kai lefta" was recorded by HMV, with music by
Kostas Kanoulas and lyrics by Giorgos Kamvisis (OGA 886 – AO 2564, Athens – this record is a re-issue for Victor in America). Kanoulas was born in Söke, in the province of Aydın, around 1894. Based on our few sources about him, he seems to have been playing the guitar, the cimbalom, the double bass and the cello. He is the one who is probably playing the cello in this recording. It also seems that, after 1922, he traveled and lived in Alexandria, Egypt, and then settled in Athens. He had a close relationship with Dimitris Semsis, who married his sister (see also Kourousis and Kopanitsanos, 2016: 142).

The introduction of the song, as a whole (harmony, melody, rhythmic structures), comes from the extremely important Hasidic tradition of Eastern Europe, where areas such as Ukraine were essential cradles of Ashkenazi Jews. Hasidic tradition seems to have originated from mystical Kabbalah’s wanderer Israel Ben Eliezer (around 1698–1760), known as Baal Shem Tov. The numerous Hasidic schools, which over time immigrated to the United States of America, acquiring today an extremely conservative character and commonly described as "Ultra-Orthodox", were founded by his disciple known as Magzer (wandering preacher) of Mezeritch (1710–1772).

Abraham Isaac Kook (1865–1935), who was also the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Mandatory Palestine after the First World War, was born through this Hasidic tradition. He is credited with the music of "Zol Shoyn Kumen Di Ge'uleh" (or Geule, May Redemption Come), which is still performed in the Jewish world today (see for example
Moshe Bear’s performance). A musical score, orchestrated and harmonized by Joshua Jacobson, was released in Poland by Transcontinental Music Publications around 1947.

Syncretism, which is observed in the musical actualizations of the areas where Greeks lived and recorded, mainly in the area of folk-popular traditions, is monumental. It only takes one to listen to historical discography, which begins in New York, Smyrna (Izmir), Constantinople (Istanbul), Athens and Thessaloniki since 1900. An essential part of this syncretism concerns the Jews, who constitute one of the main conduits in the uniquely diverse cultural heritage of the Greek-speaking world. They borrow and lend, but they also carry more distant traditions from the places where they have previously lived and the places they have traveled to. They are the central interlocutors in the Greek and Ottoman ecumene, together with Turkish-speaking Muslims, Orthodox but also Catholic Greek-speaking and Armenians, Levantine Protestants, Europeans and Americans, and compose a rich musical mosaic which consists of heterogeneous but co-existent palimpsests: a reservoir to which everyone contributes but from which also everyone receives.

The sources show the timeless existence of a Jewish element, at least since the Hellenistic period, in areas that millennia later formed the modern Greek state. After the “Edict of Milan” in 313 AD and the gradual Christianization of the Eastern Empire, the Jewish element found itself in a difficult position. The Jewish populations that have since been established in these lands became known as Romaniote Jews (or “Romaniotes”’ Rome – Romios). Their historical geographical center of reference was the city of Ioannina, and they speak Greek with various linguistic mixtures. After 1492 and the “Alhambra Decree” by the joint Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, those Jews who did not accept to embrace Christianity were expelled from the Iberian peninsula. They became known as the Sepharadi Jews (or “Sepharadim”), one of the largest Jewish ethno-cultural categorizations (Sepharad in Jewish texts is referred to as the region of present-day Spain). Thessaloniki was one of the main destination points of this displacement, as the ties with the city were older and already close. Apart from the role played by the Greek Jews in the musical developments on the Greek peninsula, there were also important mutual influences between the Greek-speaking Orthodox and the Jews in various other areas where the two communities lived together. As, for example, in Odessa, with the Eastern Ashkenazi Jews, who mainly speak Yiddish, a sui generis Semitic-Slavic language (in Jewish texts, the Kingdom of Ashkenaz, a descendant of Noah, is connected with north-eastern European territories). Their orchestral repertoire is often called klezmer. In other words, apart from the geographical limits of the modern Greek state, the cultural conversations between the Greek Orthodox and the Jews also concern other parts of the world, both in Europe and America, where they met as immigrants.


Research and text: 
Nikos Ordoulidis

Author (Composer):
Lyrics by:
Kamvysis Giorgos
Singer(s):
Pagioumtzis Stratos, Perpiniadis Stellakis
Orchestra-Performers:
Popular orchestra
Recording date:
1939
Recording location:
Athens
Language(s):
Greek
Dance / Rhythm:
Chasapikos
Publisher:
RCA Victor
Catalogue number:
26-8169-B
Matrix number:
BS-041347
Duration:
03:06
Item location:
Kounadis Archive Record Library
Physical description:
10 in. (25 cm)
Source:
Kounadis Archive
ID:
RCA_Vi_26_8169_TheloSpitiKaiLefta
Licensing:
cc
Reference link:
Kounadis Archive, "Thelo spiti kai lefta", 2019, https://vmrebetiko.gr/en/item-en?id=11074

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”.

In 1939, the song with the title "Thelo spiti kai lefta" was recorded by HMV, with music by
Kostas Kanoulas and lyrics by Giorgos Kamvisis (OGA 886 – AO 2564, Athens – this record is a re-issue for Victor in America). Kanoulas was born in Söke, in the province of Aydın, around 1894. Based on our few sources about him, he seems to have been playing the guitar, the cimbalom, the double bass and the cello. He is the one who is probably playing the cello in this recording. It also seems that, after 1922, he traveled and lived in Alexandria, Egypt, and then settled in Athens. He had a close relationship with Dimitris Semsis, who married his sister (see also Kourousis and Kopanitsanos, 2016: 142).

The introduction of the song, as a whole (harmony, melody, rhythmic structures), comes from the extremely important Hasidic tradition of Eastern Europe, where areas such as Ukraine were essential cradles of Ashkenazi Jews. Hasidic tradition seems to have originated from mystical Kabbalah’s wanderer Israel Ben Eliezer (around 1698–1760), known as Baal Shem Tov. The numerous Hasidic schools, which over time immigrated to the United States of America, acquiring today an extremely conservative character and commonly described as "Ultra-Orthodox", were founded by his disciple known as Magzer (wandering preacher) of Mezeritch (1710–1772).

Abraham Isaac Kook (1865–1935), who was also the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Mandatory Palestine after the First World War, was born through this Hasidic tradition. He is credited with the music of "Zol Shoyn Kumen Di Ge'uleh" (or Geule, May Redemption Come), which is still performed in the Jewish world today (see for example
Moshe Bear’s performance). A musical score, orchestrated and harmonized by Joshua Jacobson, was released in Poland by Transcontinental Music Publications around 1947.

Syncretism, which is observed in the musical actualizations of the areas where Greeks lived and recorded, mainly in the area of folk-popular traditions, is monumental. It only takes one to listen to historical discography, which begins in New York, Smyrna (Izmir), Constantinople (Istanbul), Athens and Thessaloniki since 1900. An essential part of this syncretism concerns the Jews, who constitute one of the main conduits in the uniquely diverse cultural heritage of the Greek-speaking world. They borrow and lend, but they also carry more distant traditions from the places where they have previously lived and the places they have traveled to. They are the central interlocutors in the Greek and Ottoman ecumene, together with Turkish-speaking Muslims, Orthodox but also Catholic Greek-speaking and Armenians, Levantine Protestants, Europeans and Americans, and compose a rich musical mosaic which consists of heterogeneous but co-existent palimpsests: a reservoir to which everyone contributes but from which also everyone receives.

The sources show the timeless existence of a Jewish element, at least since the Hellenistic period, in areas that millennia later formed the modern Greek state. After the “Edict of Milan” in 313 AD and the gradual Christianization of the Eastern Empire, the Jewish element found itself in a difficult position. The Jewish populations that have since been established in these lands became known as Romaniote Jews (or “Romaniotes”’ Rome – Romios). Their historical geographical center of reference was the city of Ioannina, and they speak Greek with various linguistic mixtures. After 1492 and the “Alhambra Decree” by the joint Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, those Jews who did not accept to embrace Christianity were expelled from the Iberian peninsula. They became known as the Sepharadi Jews (or “Sepharadim”), one of the largest Jewish ethno-cultural categorizations (Sepharad in Jewish texts is referred to as the region of present-day Spain). Thessaloniki was one of the main destination points of this displacement, as the ties with the city were older and already close. Apart from the role played by the Greek Jews in the musical developments on the Greek peninsula, there were also important mutual influences between the Greek-speaking Orthodox and the Jews in various other areas where the two communities lived together. As, for example, in Odessa, with the Eastern Ashkenazi Jews, who mainly speak Yiddish, a sui generis Semitic-Slavic language (in Jewish texts, the Kingdom of Ashkenaz, a descendant of Noah, is connected with north-eastern European territories). Their orchestral repertoire is often called klezmer. In other words, apart from the geographical limits of the modern Greek state, the cultural conversations between the Greek Orthodox and the Jews also concern other parts of the world, both in Europe and America, where they met as immigrants.


Research and text: 
Nikos Ordoulidis

Author (Composer):
Lyrics by:
Kamvysis Giorgos
Singer(s):
Pagioumtzis Stratos, Perpiniadis Stellakis
Orchestra-Performers:
Popular orchestra
Recording date:
1939
Recording location:
Athens
Language(s):
Greek
Dance / Rhythm:
Chasapikos
Publisher:
RCA Victor
Catalogue number:
26-8169-B
Matrix number:
BS-041347
Duration:
03:06
Item location:
Kounadis Archive Record Library
Physical description:
10 in. (25 cm)
Source:
Kounadis Archive
ID:
RCA_Vi_26_8169_TheloSpitiKaiLefta
Licensing:
cc
Reference link:
Kounadis Archive, "Thelo spiti kai lefta", 2019, https://vmrebetiko.gr/en/item-en?id=11074

See also