Archon Protopsaltis of the Great Church of Christ
A biography by G. K. Michalakis
(image from cmkon.org)
1864 - Athens 1942)
of the Holy and Great Church of Christ in Constantinople
was born in Naxos in 1864.
NAFPLIOTIS being his last name, and not the geographic name of his
origin he must therefore be called
and not Iakovos “o” Nafpliotis, as some have erroneously named him.
went to Constantinople at a young age, where he was acclaimed for his
exceptional caliphonus qualities, and was engaged as First
in 1878 (at 14 years of age) in the Patriarchal Church.
He served as
first Canonarchos for 3 years.
This first as
well as all the subsequent ordinations may be listed as follows:
Canonarchos (1878 to 1881, from the age of 14 to 17 = 3 years of
Dometstichos (1881 to 1888, from the age of 17 to 24 = 7
years of service)
Domestichos (1888 to 1905, from the age of 24 to 41 = 17 years of
Lambadarios (1905 to 1911, from the age of 41 to 47 = 6 years of
Protopsaltis (1911 to 1938, from the age or 47 to 74, = 27 years of
- In total, he served the Patriarchal Analogion for 60 years!
retired in Athens, where he passed away in 1942 at the age of 78
years. His body lies in the First Nekrotapheion of Athens.
disciple, Angelos BOUDOURIS, who has left behind almost 10 000
thousand) pages of transcriptions of Iakovos’ traditional
interpretations of the entire year-round, functional psaltic
repertoire, informs us that this great teacher had learned the
traditional manner of chanting while he was second Domestichos to the
Lambadarios Nikolaos, who knew nothing of the reformed semeiography.
other occasions, Angelos BOUDOURIS informs us as well that,
of the ignorance of the ‘externally’ introduced chanters
such as the
musicologist Protopsaltis Georgios Biolakis, Iakovos and the remaining
subordinates who had grown up in the Patriarcheion would “pull the
newcomers by the nose, so as safekeep tradition. The latter had
choice but to “follow”. This BOUDOURIS was able to testify to,
grew up in the Patriarcheion as well, during the late 1890’s.
TSOLAKIDIS, who was the First Canonarchos and later on helper
Domestichos of Iakovos NAFPLIOTIS for a total of more than 10 years
during the 1910 decade, claimed that Iakovos NAFPLIOTIS was a “serious”
psaltis and teacher, and that no one of his time had ever managed to
imitate him. Stylianos TSOLAKIDIS had also chanted along Georgios
BINAKIS (student of Georgios RAIDESTINOS the Second) as first
Canonarchos for two years, and along Nileas KAMARADOS as well, but no
one in Constantinople had the “psaltic stamina = stability” of Iakovos.
first Domestichos, Iakovos NAFPLIOTIS helped transcribe old notation
books according to the new semeiography (1899: Doxastarion of Petros
Peloponnesios). He taught the psaltic art in the Patriarchal
school of Phanarion, and he also published a book in two volumes, the
“Forminx [this is the very name Constantinos Pringos used later on for
his editions] which contained various hymns and songs for the use of
Angelos BOUDOURIS made extraordinary efforts to put on paper Iakovos’
rendering, the latter could not understand the purpose, for he knew and
taught everything by heart: repetition, repetition…
first Canonarchs would learn in this manner, after they had studied
parallagi of the classical pieces with their master.
NAFPLIOTIS was replaced for 6 months by Antonios SYRKAS in the late
On the occasion
of his 50th
year of service, the entire personnel was remunerated in double.
his retirement, the Patriarch Beniamin the First bestowed upon him the
title of “Honorary Protopsaltis of the Holy and Great Church of Christ”.
community and History will remember Iakovos NAFPLIOTIS as the
“Megaloprepis’ = ‘the Majestuous one”.
voice was recorded owing to the clairvoyance of the great Patriarch,
Ioakeim the third, who even contributed from his personal purse so as
to finance some of the historic plates which were recorded under the
label “ORFEON RECORD”. Most of these recordings were done with
Konstantinos PRINGOS, who was actually protopsaltis in another church
in Constantinople at the time.
to the Protocanonarchos Stylianos TSOLAKIDIS, these recordings are more
of paedagogical nature: there is no syneptigmenos chronos,
= developments are maintained to a strict minimum. This is the
Iakovos would chant so as to teach the basics of a hymn the “first time
around”. In the Patriarchate, the interpretations were slightly
vivid, due in part to a variety of rhythmic nuances, yet never too far
off from the actual recordings.
one seems to know exactly how many such plates there really
Many originals are to be found in Thessaloniki, under the care of Prof.
ALYGIZAKIS. Some are said to be found in the Hellenic national
of these historic recordings have been put on CD, but we are far from
the minimal estimate of 5 hours (300 minutes and, at 3 minutes per
plate = about 100 plates) that exist in various collectors’ safe boxes.
memory of this great psaltis, but also of those who admired him and
made enormous sacrifices so as to obtain these recordings, they have
been put up for the benefit of all.
please pray for the late
generously provided a young boy, student of the Protocanonarchos, with
his ENTIRE, 5 hour personal collection of
MAJESTUOUS Protopsaltis of
and Great Church of Christ in Constantinople.