Stories re: The Great Psaltai

saltypsalti

Παλαιό Μέλος
#1
I thought it would a nice idea to put out a call to see if anyone had any personal, and inspiring (maybe even humorous) stories about some of the great psaltai of the 20th Century. Things that can easily be shared with children, young people interested in the psaltic arts.

It's part of a project I am putting together for the Cathedral newsletter.

JPP
 

Dimitri

Δημήτρης Κουμπαρούλης, Administrator
Staff member
#2
An inspiring story for me was listening to the late archon music teacher (mousikodidaskalos) of the Patriarchate, Dimitrios Sourlantzis say that in mid-20th century he would travel (walking I think or on donkey) 6 hours from his home town to Athens and back to attend chant lessons by his teacher Konstantinos Psachos.

Also, Konstantinos Psachos dictating Byzantine Music essays to his wife while himself being blind towards the end of his life.

Another one is the testimony of Thrasyvoulos Stanitsas and others that the protopsaltis of the Patriarchate Konstantinos Pringos would pick always and consistently the same base pitch for different chants without using a pitch fork.

A local psaltis from Pyrgos Ilias, Greece told me once (in the 50s) that he used to work in the fields as a young boy to be able to pay for chanting lessons and his first Byzantine Music book. Once, he did not have to pay and his teacher told him to go away until he got the money. Something that he remembered with pain until his old age.

There are lots of other stories that people can contribute.
 

Nikolaos Giannoukakis

Παλαιό Μέλος
#3
There are A LOT OF humorous stories out there that could be shared. Many have been posted on the Greek side of the Forum (Eytrapela) and if one of the Greek moderators could translate the most humorous and the most didactic, that would perhaps be useful.

Exactly what is your theme for the newsletter so some of us (those who lived the Great Teachers of the 20th century) could supply appropriate stories/experiences?....

N.
 

saltypsalti

Παλαιό Μέλος
#4
There are A LOT OF humorous stories out there that could be shared. Many have been posted on the Greek side of the Forum (Eytrapela) and if one of the Greek moderators could translate the most humorous and the most didactic, that would perhaps be useful.

Exactly what is your theme for the newsletter so some of us (those who lived the Great Teachers of the 20th century) could supply appropriate stories/experiences?....

N.
Thank you. Much of our (particularly in the Old Calendar) experience of Church history is limited to Saints and such, which is all good and well --I want share a bit of the "psaltic culture" that would be otherwise unheard of in terms that the average lay person could relate to, maybe chuckle at, and maybe in the back of the head say, "that could be me too". It probably could benefit everyone here as well.

Sounds corny, I know, but I thought it would be worth a shot

JPP
 
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Nikolaos Giannoukakis

Παλαιό Μέλος
#5
Some that come to mind:

George and Antonios Syrkas:

1) George Syrkas, one of Greece's most respected psaltai (sadly passed away in 2003), when he was Protopsaltis of St-Constantine+Helen Omonoia Athens would always have his father, the legendary Antonios Syrkas EVERY service sitting behind the analogion and hawkishly listening. EVERYONE at the analogion, including his son, were scared to death of making one single mistake or performing something out of line with what was the norm (to the note!) in Constantinople, no matter how "nice" it sounded to the people. (That's the level of conservative that existed in the 50s). On one occasion, as Antonios was deep in meditation, George decided to pull off a "thesi" that was more like a maqam. The old man rapidly opened his eyes, rushed to the back of the analogion, grabbed George's raso by the back and started pulling it violently while shouting loudly :" Is that tradition you donkey? Is that what you learned you donkey? Is that what is history passed down to you you donkey?". Suffice it to say, George NEVER strayed until the old man's passing in 1974 (Antonios was born in 1872 and was in Contantinople for more than 40 years-25 as Protopsaltis of St-Constantine and Helen Pera; he was a student of Nileas Kamarados, Giagkos Vasileiadis, Polychronios Pacheidis and Eystratios Papadopoulos; he served as locum tenens Protopsaltis of the Great Church of Christ) before the family was exiled from Turkey in the 1930s).

2) Every service when the analogia knew that the old man would be in attendance, they would place a lookout outside the church to warn the two analogia that " the old man is coming".

3) Ioannis Mathioudakis ,a respected chanter, still active today, and a student of many renown Athenian psaltai of the 40s and 50s, carries a miniature card in his blazer pocket that is a miniature copy of his diploma and certificate of completion of a five year study program "with the grade of excellent throughout". In those days, you were judged as a chantor by your vocal capacities and capabilities, by your sticking with tradition in terms of musical scores and execution and by who your teachers were. Mathioudakis was accomplished by all the standards. However, one day in the late 60s, when the phenomenon of conservatories starting picking up speed, someone accused Mathioudakis of "not possessing any papers". So, he went, completed the 5 + 2 year programs and was awarded his papers. To this day, if he is asked "where did you learn" he takes out the miniature laminate card and shows it to all, "just in case".

4) The famous "Tin Oraiotita tis parthenias sou" by Nileas Kamarados chanted at the end of the small compline of the Salutations/Akathyst service was transmitted to us by Antonios Syrkas. Nileas would NEVER give his compositions to anyone, but instead would chant them in church. Syrkas, who was his lampadarios in the early 1900s, wanting to learn how to chant it himself (since in a right-left analogion system, that hymn is chanted by the left analogion), pulled one of Nileas' oldest-serving domestichoi (who knew the music of that hymn to the smallest detail) to the tavern across the church, got him drunk, asked him to perform it a couple of times and then wrote it down. When Antonios Syrkas asked Nileas for permission to perform it the week after, Nileas smirked but gave permission. Upon hearing it, Nileas asked his domestichoi "who taught him that" angrily. The guilty domestichos received a swift kick in the butt, was knocked down from the analogion. Nileas then told Syrkas "give it to me so at least I can correct it!".


.....I'll think of more.....


N.
 

Nikolaos Giannoukakis

Παλαιό Μέλος
#6
Another few:

1) the identity of the chantor will remain anonymous. During a summer liturgy, right after the Axion Estin, as the deacon recited "kαὶ ὧν ἕκαστος κατὰ διάνοιαν ἔχει, καὶ πάντων καὶ πασῶν", the chantor (a hard core conservative with former allegiance to the Royalists) thought he heard the deacon say "καὶ πάντων καὶ πασῶk". PA.SO.K was the left-leaning socialist party in the 70s-80s (currently it is more left of center) and you can imagine the chantor's sensitivity to hear that a prayer offering was made in honor of a political party and one that he abhored. He started hitting the microphone violently and shouted at the deacon a couple of obscenities with the work PASOK interspersed among the obscenities....

2) Stanitsas is rumored to have carried a medicine bottle with raki/ouzo and a straw in his pocket on a couple of occasions.....

3) Panagiotides, on one occasion, early in the morning in the Orthros, somewhere at the Timiotera, started clearing phlegm violently and quite loudly over the microphone to the point where he uttered (quite loudly) "Damn you poor-quality wine, I am never going to that taverna again". Apparently, he had visited a taverna before church....

4) A very famous chantor who shall remain anonymous, had a terrible cold during the Christmas period in the late-70s. But because the prime minister of Greece would be in attendance on the Sunday before Christmas, he could not exactly excuse himself. His solution: Use the tapes he had already recorded for commercial sales with the relevant hymns, with enough space between the hymns to allow the priests to offer the petitions/prayers and he would lip sync......Problem was, one of the ushers came to him right in the middle of the Doxastikon (playing through the speakers) and he was distracted speaking to the usher. You can imagine the rest of the sequence....


5) Rumor has it that Taliadoros' dentures fell out right after the first few syllables of the Doxastikon of the Holy Fathers.......

6) During the tenure of Serapheim as Archbishop of Athens and All Greece and during the vesper service of St-Thomas at the celebrating church of St-Thomas (Vasilikos as the A'Psaltis, to this day), Patroklos Pananidis [a very colorful individual about whom thousands of stories can be told] was one of the two canonarchs who went before the Archbishop (on the throne) to prepare for the "Keleyson". Before they had a chance to begin, Serapheim asked them "What is the tone"? Pananidis replied, and before he and his colleague had a chance to begin the "Keleyson" Serapheim began chanting the "Kyrie Ekekraxa". Suffice it to say that the canonarchs were left standing and Vasilikos was quite incensed....

7) Karamanis and Taliadoros, in the early 70s were in the same vehicle going with the Metropolitan of Thessaloniki (Panteleimon the 2nd) to a celebrating parish in Chalkidiki. Each was trying to outfox the other on who would be the right-side chanter. The humor will be unfortunately lost in the English translation but:

Taliadoros: "Thanassi, you know, at your age you should not imperil your voice. Leave it rest tonight....I'll assume the responsibilities at the right side analogion"

Karamanis: "Charilae, I agree with you. I should not imperil my voice. Like the body, it need exercise. I agree that I should keep it in shape, so, why don't you take the left side?"

...and on it went.....

8) A chantor of old-time in Constantinople (identity to remain anonymous) was graphic in his re-enactment of the hymnography. At the Holy Thursday Doxastikon "Exedysan me", he used to rip apart his raso, and his shirt with his hands as he chanted the piece and later at the aposticha "Simeron se theorousa....kai tiptousa goerws...." he would literally beat his chest with his fists to illustrate the words of the hymn. The church was usually full to capacity every year on H.Thursday not necessarily because of piety but because of the spectacle that everyone anticipated...

....There are too many funny moments that I have heard about and some that I witnessed, but a lot of them have characteristics that I do not believe are appropriate for a public forum (misrepresented and mispronounced words whose meaning is changed for the worse; embarassing moments and situations etc...).

NG
 

Dimitri

Δημήτρης Κουμπαρούλης, Administrator
Staff member
#7
There is also the story that Stanitsas was once reprimanded by the Patriarch while in the Patriarchate for using music scores on the analogion (chanters are required to know everything by heart there). Stanitsas did not have a musical score so to prove it he allegedly threw the Horologion book on the floor and chanted the rest of the service without even looking at the liturgical text.
 

Dimitri

Δημήτρης Κουμπαρούλης, Administrator
Staff member
#8
Another story I just heard from Mr Paikopoulos interview to Lykourgos Angelopoulos. When Stanitsas was left chanter (lambadarios) at the Patriarchate he used to chant the Kalophonic Heirmos "Esisthisan Laoi" of Petros Bereketis during the distribution of the Antidoron. His interpretation was so captivating that the congregation stopped going to receive the antidoron from the Patriarch and stayed in their seats to listen to the magnificent chanting. Even the Patriarch himself turned to the lambadarios and waited for the melody to finish before continuing to distribute the antidoron!
 

saltypsalti

Παλαιό Μέλος
#9
Another few:

1) the identity of the chantor will remain anonymous. During a summer liturgy, right after the Axion Estin, as the deacon recited "kαὶ ὧν ἕκαστος κατὰ διάνοιαν ἔχει, καὶ πάντων καὶ πασῶν", the chantor (a hard core conservative with former allegiance to the Royalists) thought he heard the deacon say "καὶ πάντων καὶ πασῶk".
NG
For some reason the Greek text in this forum always comes across as gibberish on my screen --can you possibly provide a phonetic or change the font?

JPP
 

Nikolaos Giannoukakis

Παλαιό Μέλος
#10
Dear John,

If you are on Mac OS X 10.6.4 and using Firefox, it's a Firefox issue. Consider this: At work I have the latest version of Firefox with 10.6.4. There, I get the gibberish and I have to manually select character encoding to Greek to see the Greek font. At home, I did not yet update to the latest Firefox and the encoding with the previous Firefox version is done automatically.....go figure....

Anyway, here is what I wrote:

During a summer liturgy, right after the Axion Estin, as the deacon recited (in Greek) "kai on ekastos kata dianoian exei kai panton kai pason", the chantor (a hard core conservative with former allegiance to the Royalists) thought he heard the deacon say "kai panton kai PA.SO.K"....etc etc...

NG
 

saltypsalti

Παλαιό Μέλος
#11
Now consider my former Left, who when had a case of the hiccups in the miiddle of a service, actually said "Hiccup" --I nearly fell of the cliros in laughter.

JPP
 

Shota

Παλαιό Μέλος
#12
Sophrone Petrides in his article on Kassia (from 1902) writes that in 1901 the Protopsaltes of one of the churches in Constantinople (the name of which he does not want give), envious of the fact that the right of chanting the slow version of Kassiane's troparion belongs to the Lampadarios, anticipated his "rival" and chanted the doxastikon himself to the great scandal of the Orthodox faithful present at the service.

That's what a perfect collaboration between the Protopsaltes and Lampadarios is about :D
 

Attachments

#13
For some reason the Greek text in this forum always comes across as gibberish on my screen --can you possibly provide a phonetic or change the font?
Yes, this happens when one sets English as forum-language. In this case the web-pages include the following declaration:
Code:
meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=ISO-8859-1"
So there are two solutions that can be used by the administrators - either use consistently ISO-8859-7 for both languages (Greek or English) or to reconfigure the forum to use UTF-8.
 
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