O loustros

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The network in which the Greek-speaking urban folk-popular song participates, constantly conversing with its co-tenants, is magnificent. Discography has already provided important tools in understanding the relationships developed with the Canzone Napoletana, the French chansons, the music of the Jewish ecumene, the Spanish world and countless other sub-networks. These cultural grids interacted with Greek music from the period of the Ottoman Empire forming a borderless and syncretic cultural context. One of these fascinating networks concerns what, quite vaguely, we would call "Russian territories", which, through various routes, meets the network of Greek-speaking musicians. Besides, the Greek diaspora has over time been well established in various areas of these territories, with one of the most important key-places being Odessa. The appropriation of this music by Greek musicians was twofold: on the one hand were the lyrics, which were now in Greek (from what the data show us so far, they had nothing to do with the original ones), and, on the other hand, the performance practices: different instrumentation, different singing style, often differences in melodic and rhythmic forms and in the harmonies. Greek musicians adapted what they heard to their own condition, based on their own capabilities. One such case is the song "O loustros".

This is a Greek adaptation of the Russian song "Как цветок душистый", which could be translated as "Like a fragrant flower" by Саша Макаров (Sasha Makarov).

It was probably recorded for the first time in the form of a song on January 20, 1914, in Saint Petersburg, by the Greek singer Юрий Морфесси (Yuri Morfessi, Giorgos Morfessis), for Gramophone (
222326 – 5340ae).

The tune, however, is older. We come across it as a Russian traditional dance, probably coming from the region of Ukraine, under the title "Карапет" (karapet or karapyet or karapiet). In addition to describing the tune, Karapet is also used to describe some very specific lyric structures of couplets, as well as a specific dance.

The oldest Ukrainian recording that was found is entitled "Українсько, руський, ту-степ" (Ukrainsko, Russkyj, Two Step). It was made in January 1927, in New York, with Ewhen Zukowsky (vocals) and Pawlo Humaniuk (violin). The recording was made by Columbia (
107532 – 27085-F [electric copy from the original]).

In August
1943, the orchestra of the Ukrainian immigrant to America Dimitry Kornienko recorded the instrumental song entitled "Two – step (Karapet)" for the label Kismet (108 – 101-A). It is the same musical tune. It is worth mentioning that the word "Tsiganochka" has been written by hand on the record, most probably at a later time.

However, the name Karapet is also found in the Armenian world. In present-day Russia, the name Karapet is associated with Armenian origin. This is due to the historic Armenian Christian monastery of Surb Karapet (Saint Prodromos), which is believed to have been built in the early 4th century by Saint Gregory the Illuminator, the founder of the Armenian Church. The monastery is located in Taron, based on Armenian historiography, Muş region in present-day Turkey.

The tune was recorded as an instrumental song by Odeon probably in the region of Armenia in the 1920s (ES 1357 – A 220418b). On the label one can read: 
Bari nivakakhump – Tamara – Rusagan Bar (Orchestre de danse – Danse russe, Dance orchestra – Russian dance).

As a song in Armenian, the tune was recorded in New York, in 1927, by M. Duzjian under the title "
Ah im aghvor meg hadik" (Ah, my beautiful, my unique: Pharos No 564 – 380). On the back side of the record is the song entitled "Aman aman Maritza".

In 1950, the label The folk dancer record service released in America the recording entitled "
Karapyet (Russian Two Step)" with Kostya Poliansky and His Balalaika Orchestra (E1-CB 2610 – MH 1058-A).

Apart from the abovementioned, it seems that the tune has a history in both the Georgian and Chechen repertoire. The name by which we come across it is "Наурская лезгинка" (Naurskaya lezginka, lezginka from Naursky). Lezginka is a type of 6/8 rhythm dances in the Caucasus region, danced mainly by the Lezgin, an ethnocultural group located mainly between South Dagestan and North Azerbaijan. Naursky is a region in Chechnya.

The earliest recording under this title was made in Berlin on December 23, 1910, by Zonophone (
11901 – X 2-60530). The instrumental piece entitled "ნავრსკია კაზაჭია კეზგინკა" (Наурская казачья лезгинка, lezginka of the Cossacks of Naursky) was probably recorded by Pathé on January 24, 1913 (89187-RA – 25599). In 1923, Музпред НКП (Muzpred NKP) also recorded in Moscow an instrumental piece with the title "Наурская лезгинка" (1170). Finally, again in Moscow, the company/factory Апрелевский Завод (Aprelevka Record Plant) recorded in 1940 another instrumental work with the title "Наурская лезгинка" (10394). In the information found on Yuri Bernikov’s extremely interesting website www.russian-records.com, one can read that this recording is part of the Georgian repertoire. Indeed, this is the only recording in which, after the second half of the song, the identifying for the lezginka meter of 6/8 can be heard.

Based on the data, it seems that the dance was popular in the Caucasus, in the Naursky region of Chechnya, about 350 kilometers north of Tbilisi, from where it was introduced to the Russian-Ukrainian repertoire and, from the 19th century onwards, was urbanized and turned into a ballroom dance. Although in 2/4, where of course we come across a multitude of similar repertoires (horas, sirbas, polkas, bulgars, chasapika), the urbanized version of the dance is danced in pairs, with references to the waltz dance. Nevertheless, the dance retains a more popular form, even within the folklore context, as it is danced both by the famous Georgian ballets and at social events. Various versions of the tune have been found in other repertoires, too: klezmer/Yiddish, ladino, in Belarus and in Estonia.

One of these unique cases is the introduction of the tune in the Finnish repertoire, since 1919, where the title is the name of Alexander Kerensky. Kerensky took part in the provisional government, after the first revolution in February 1917 and the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II. The tune was recorded as and instrumental piece (Columbia W105818 – 3015-F), as well as a song; the lyrics of which mock Kerensky and its efforts for the unity of the Empire without the monarchy. Since then, the tune was recorded as a Finnish song with several variations.


The initial phrase of the tune refers to the intro and the chorus of Panagiotis Tountas' song "Aman Katerina mou" (Oh, my Cathrine). It is impressive how Tountas uses and arranges popular and wandering tunes, often taking small forms and structuring, based on them, new compositions. In addition, the presence of a female name in the various versions is extremely interesting, as in addition to "Tamara" and "Katerina", the tune can be found under the title "Девочка Надя" (Devochka Nadya), that is, "the girl Nadia".

The musical tune, however, has a third life-journey within the Greek repertoire. In 1928, Theofrastos Sakellaridis used it in his operetta entitled "Christina". More specifically, the song "Ferte mou na pio", about halfway through, uses the basic harmonic and melodic line of the tune under consideration.

The oldest recording we have found was made by Victor, in New York, on August 16, 1928 (CVE 46909 – V 59070). On the label of the record one can read the names of Anna Kriona and Tetos Dimitriadis. Another recording of the song was made by Homocord, probably in Athens, on October 2, 1928 (G 837 – G 4-32060). On the label of the record one can read "Athinaiki Estudiantina" (Athenian Estudiantina) but also "Homocord Orchestra".

A musical score of the song is available electronically on the website of the Lilian Voudouri Music Library of Greece. On the first page, the song seems to have been dedicated "To Ms Nitsa Filosofou". The name of Theofrastos Sakellaridis as that of the composer and lyricist is also written.

Through the story of "Loustros" (the sexual lyric-theme of which surprises), one of the aspects of the super-complex network, in which music circulates, is revealed in a very clear way, in essence rendering Europe and Asia into one continent. We can also see how hubs are formed and through which route they arrive at key places, which appropriate and update them, confirming, even on an imaginary level, Konstantinos Doxiadis’ Ecumenopolis.

Research and text: Leonardos Kounadis and Nikos Ordoulidis

Lyrics by:
[Макаров Саша (Makarov Sasha) Greek lyrics: Unknown]
Singer(s):
Liokis M.
Orchestra-Performers:
Mandolinata
Recording date:
24/1/1929
Recording location:
Constantinople (Istanbul) (?)
Language(s):
Greek
Publisher:
Homocord
Catalogue number:
G. 4-32075
Matrix number:
C 39 T
Duration:
3:20
Item location:
Kounadis Archive Record Library
Physical description:
10 in. (25 cm)
Source:
Kounadis Archive
ID:
Homo_G4_32075_OLoustros
Licensing:
cc
Reference link:
Kounadis Archive, "O loustros", 2019, https://vmrebetiko.gr/en/item-en?id=4468

The network in which the Greek-speaking urban folk-popular song participates, constantly conversing with its co-tenants, is magnificent. Discography has already provided important tools in understanding the relationships developed with the Canzone Napoletana, the French chansons, the music of the Jewish ecumene, the Spanish world and countless other sub-networks. These cultural grids interacted with Greek music from the period of the Ottoman Empire forming a borderless and syncretic cultural context. One of these fascinating networks concerns what, quite vaguely, we would call "Russian territories", which, through various routes, meets the network of Greek-speaking musicians. Besides, the Greek diaspora has over time been well established in various areas of these territories, with one of the most important key-places being Odessa. The appropriation of this music by Greek musicians was twofold: on the one hand were the lyrics, which were now in Greek (from what the data show us so far, they had nothing to do with the original ones), and, on the other hand, the performance practices: different instrumentation, different singing style, often differences in melodic and rhythmic forms and in the harmonies. Greek musicians adapted what they heard to their own condition, based on their own capabilities. One such case is the song "O loustros".

This is a Greek adaptation of the Russian song "Как цветок душистый", which could be translated as "Like a fragrant flower" by Саша Макаров (Sasha Makarov).

It was probably recorded for the first time in the form of a song on January 20, 1914, in Saint Petersburg, by the Greek singer Юрий Морфесси (Yuri Morfessi, Giorgos Morfessis), for Gramophone (
222326 – 5340ae).

The tune, however, is older. We come across it as a Russian traditional dance, probably coming from the region of Ukraine, under the title "Карапет" (karapet or karapyet or karapiet). In addition to describing the tune, Karapet is also used to describe some very specific lyric structures of couplets, as well as a specific dance.

The oldest Ukrainian recording that was found is entitled "Українсько, руський, ту-степ" (Ukrainsko, Russkyj, Two Step). It was made in January 1927, in New York, with Ewhen Zukowsky (vocals) and Pawlo Humaniuk (violin). The recording was made by Columbia (
107532 – 27085-F [electric copy from the original]).

In August
1943, the orchestra of the Ukrainian immigrant to America Dimitry Kornienko recorded the instrumental song entitled "Two – step (Karapet)" for the label Kismet (108 – 101-A). It is the same musical tune. It is worth mentioning that the word "Tsiganochka" has been written by hand on the record, most probably at a later time.

However, the name Karapet is also found in the Armenian world. In present-day Russia, the name Karapet is associated with Armenian origin. This is due to the historic Armenian Christian monastery of Surb Karapet (Saint Prodromos), which is believed to have been built in the early 4th century by Saint Gregory the Illuminator, the founder of the Armenian Church. The monastery is located in Taron, based on Armenian historiography, Muş region in present-day Turkey.

The tune was recorded as an instrumental song by Odeon probably in the region of Armenia in the 1920s (ES 1357 – A 220418b). On the label one can read: 
Bari nivakakhump – Tamara – Rusagan Bar (Orchestre de danse – Danse russe, Dance orchestra – Russian dance).

As a song in Armenian, the tune was recorded in New York, in 1927, by M. Duzjian under the title "
Ah im aghvor meg hadik" (Ah, my beautiful, my unique: Pharos No 564 – 380). On the back side of the record is the song entitled "Aman aman Maritza".

In 1950, the label The folk dancer record service released in America the recording entitled "
Karapyet (Russian Two Step)" with Kostya Poliansky and His Balalaika Orchestra (E1-CB 2610 – MH 1058-A).

Apart from the abovementioned, it seems that the tune has a history in both the Georgian and Chechen repertoire. The name by which we come across it is "Наурская лезгинка" (Naurskaya lezginka, lezginka from Naursky). Lezginka is a type of 6/8 rhythm dances in the Caucasus region, danced mainly by the Lezgin, an ethnocultural group located mainly between South Dagestan and North Azerbaijan. Naursky is a region in Chechnya.

The earliest recording under this title was made in Berlin on December 23, 1910, by Zonophone (
11901 – X 2-60530). The instrumental piece entitled "ნავრსკია კაზაჭია კეზგინკა" (Наурская казачья лезгинка, lezginka of the Cossacks of Naursky) was probably recorded by Pathé on January 24, 1913 (89187-RA – 25599). In 1923, Музпред НКП (Muzpred NKP) also recorded in Moscow an instrumental piece with the title "Наурская лезгинка" (1170). Finally, again in Moscow, the company/factory Апрелевский Завод (Aprelevka Record Plant) recorded in 1940 another instrumental work with the title "Наурская лезгинка" (10394). In the information found on Yuri Bernikov’s extremely interesting website www.russian-records.com, one can read that this recording is part of the Georgian repertoire. Indeed, this is the only recording in which, after the second half of the song, the identifying for the lezginka meter of 6/8 can be heard.

Based on the data, it seems that the dance was popular in the Caucasus, in the Naursky region of Chechnya, about 350 kilometers north of Tbilisi, from where it was introduced to the Russian-Ukrainian repertoire and, from the 19th century onwards, was urbanized and turned into a ballroom dance. Although in 2/4, where of course we come across a multitude of similar repertoires (horas, sirbas, polkas, bulgars, chasapika), the urbanized version of the dance is danced in pairs, with references to the waltz dance. Nevertheless, the dance retains a more popular form, even within the folklore context, as it is danced both by the famous Georgian ballets and at social events. Various versions of the tune have been found in other repertoires, too: klezmer/Yiddish, ladino, in Belarus and in Estonia.

One of these unique cases is the introduction of the tune in the Finnish repertoire, since 1919, where the title is the name of Alexander Kerensky. Kerensky took part in the provisional government, after the first revolution in February 1917 and the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II. The tune was recorded as and instrumental piece (Columbia W105818 – 3015-F), as well as a song; the lyrics of which mock Kerensky and its efforts for the unity of the Empire without the monarchy. Since then, the tune was recorded as a Finnish song with several variations.


The initial phrase of the tune refers to the intro and the chorus of Panagiotis Tountas' song "Aman Katerina mou" (Oh, my Cathrine). It is impressive how Tountas uses and arranges popular and wandering tunes, often taking small forms and structuring, based on them, new compositions. In addition, the presence of a female name in the various versions is extremely interesting, as in addition to "Tamara" and "Katerina", the tune can be found under the title "Девочка Надя" (Devochka Nadya), that is, "the girl Nadia".

The musical tune, however, has a third life-journey within the Greek repertoire. In 1928, Theofrastos Sakellaridis used it in his operetta entitled "Christina". More specifically, the song "Ferte mou na pio", about halfway through, uses the basic harmonic and melodic line of the tune under consideration.

The oldest recording we have found was made by Victor, in New York, on August 16, 1928 (CVE 46909 – V 59070). On the label of the record one can read the names of Anna Kriona and Tetos Dimitriadis. Another recording of the song was made by Homocord, probably in Athens, on October 2, 1928 (G 837 – G 4-32060). On the label of the record one can read "Athinaiki Estudiantina" (Athenian Estudiantina) but also "Homocord Orchestra".

A musical score of the song is available electronically on the website of the Lilian Voudouri Music Library of Greece. On the first page, the song seems to have been dedicated "To Ms Nitsa Filosofou". The name of Theofrastos Sakellaridis as that of the composer and lyricist is also written.

Through the story of "Loustros" (the sexual lyric-theme of which surprises), one of the aspects of the super-complex network, in which music circulates, is revealed in a very clear way, in essence rendering Europe and Asia into one continent. We can also see how hubs are formed and through which route they arrive at key places, which appropriate and update them, confirming, even on an imaginary level, Konstantinos Doxiadis’ Ecumenopolis.

Research and text: Leonardos Kounadis and Nikos Ordoulidis

Lyrics by:
[Макаров Саша (Makarov Sasha) Greek lyrics: Unknown]
Singer(s):
Liokis M.
Orchestra-Performers:
Mandolinata
Recording date:
24/1/1929
Recording location:
Constantinople (Istanbul) (?)
Language(s):
Greek
Publisher:
Homocord
Catalogue number:
G. 4-32075
Matrix number:
C 39 T
Duration:
3:20
Item location:
Kounadis Archive Record Library
Physical description:
10 in. (25 cm)
Source:
Kounadis Archive
ID:
Homo_G4_32075_OLoustros
Licensing:
cc
Reference link:
Kounadis Archive, "O loustros", 2019, https://vmrebetiko.gr/en/item-en?id=4468

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