From popular songs to great poets, episode 6 of Athens Unpacked looks at the central place of poetry and music in Athenian life. Both the Asia Minor refugees’
rembetika and the traditional dimotika, ‘folk songs’ have influenced today’s creators and performers. The great composers, Theodorakis and Xatzidakis used the work of Nobel-prize winning poets lyrics for their best-loved music, contributing to the unique genre of entechno ‘art songs’.
Roza Eskenazi, Jewish-Greek queen of rembetika, originally from Smyrna
Sofka meets Lysandros Falireas, founder of the fusion band Imam Baildi. They unpack how the Asia Minor refugees of 1922 established rembetika (or ‘Greek blues’) in Athens and how it is one of the most important roots of contemporary Greek songs. Photo: Lara Papadimitriou
Imam Baildi, popular fusion band inspired by older forms of Greek music.
Vassilis Tsitsanis – leading songwriter and developer of rembetika and laïka (popular) songs
The celebrated singer Elly Paspala discusses her collaboration with two of the greatest Greek composers: Mikis Theodorakis and Manos Xatzidakis and how they used poetry from Nobel-prize-winning Greek poets. Photo: Lara Papadimitriou
Singer Elly Paspala performing.
Former British Ambassador, John Kittmer, reveals his deep love for the poet Yiannis Ritsos, who collaborated with Theodorakis when they were both were imprisoned by the Junta for belonging to the Greek Left. Photo: Vimagazino
Composer Mikis Theodorakis (right) and poet Yiannis Ritsos, who collaborated on work while in prison.
On the street between interviews. Photo: Aphroditi Houlaki
Translator, writer and bicycle tour guide Joshua Barley dives into why dimotika traditional village ‘folk’ songs are so popular in Athens and why their verses are important poems.
‘Dimotika’ folk songs have kept Greek poetry alive for centuries, just as 20th Century composers have done more recently in their popular music.