Cosmopolitan Music by Cosmopolitan Musicians

Ordoulidis, N. (2017). Cosmopolitan Music by Cosmopolitan Musicians: The Case of Spyros Peristeris, Leading Figure of the Rebetiko. Conference Paper, 'Creating music across cultures in the 21st century, The Centre for Advanced Studies in Music (25-27/5). Istanbul Technical University.


Given that today’s discourse around rebetiko, especially originating from fans and practitioners, often comprehend the style’s world as something ‘closed’ and ‘entrenched’, the examination of the work of Spyros Peristeris can grant a new perspective regarding the dialogue between dipoles and the convergence in diversity. With a father from Corfu and a Greek mother of Italian citizenship of Corsican descent, Peristeris was born in Smyrna, studied at an Italian school in Constantinople and finally moved to live in Athens. Despite this, recordings of his were found in New York, subsequent to two voyages with the transatlantic ship ‘Byron’, as a paid musician – Babel or Esperado? Musical hybrids or syncretism? The diversity detected in the corpus of Peristeris gives the impression of more than one composer, since the deviations are many and substantial. Parallel recordings: pieces that refer to the world of the café aman, waltzes, manedes, orchestral pieces based on the bouzouki, types of arias and more. Sometimes using lyrical singers, referring to symphonic musical practices, and sometimes modal style singers diverse in embellishments and gravitations. Sometimes composing inspired by the atmosphere of the world of the mangas [thug, toughie] of Piraeus and sometimes motivated by the discography products of other countries which had an international impact (tango and foxtrot). This paper initially cites a brief biography of Peristeris, setting the framework for the examination and analysis of certain musical samples from his discographical repertoire. The above cartograph the versatility and the polystylism of one of the protagonists of the genre which has prevailed as rebetiko.


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