44 Children's Pieces on Greek Melodies by Yannis Constantinidis: A Masterpiece of Mikrokosmic Proportions

By Vouvaris, Petros | American Music Teacher, June-July 2005 | Go to article overview

44 Children's Pieces on Greek Melodies by Yannis Constantinidis: A Masterpiece of Mikrokosmic Proportions


Vouvaris, Petros, American Music Teacher


Yannis Constantinidis composed the 44 Children's Pieces on Greek Melodies in 1950 with the intention of providing Greek conservatory students with compositions that have a distinctly folk flavor, gradually increasing in technical difficulty and artistic breadth. This three-volume collection of piano miniatures, akin to Bartok's Mikrokosmos and Children's Pieces, possesses a genuine sense of structural grace and melodic imagination, while vividly portraying the luscious lyricism and rhythmic vitality inherent in Greek folk music. However, despite its unmistakable musical and pedagogical value, this splendid masterwork of mikrokosmic proportions has been largely neglected by performers, scholars and pedagogues alike.

Constantinidis was born in 1903 in Smyrna, Minor Asia, which was then part of the decaying Ottoman Empire and was largely populated by Greeks. When the Greek-Turkish war broke out in 1920, his family fled to Athens, Greece, to escape the anticipated repercussions of the negative turn that the war was taking for the Greeks. In 1923, he moved to Berlin, where he studied harmony, counterpoint and fugue with Paul Juon; orchestration with Kurt Weill; and conducting with Carl Ehrenberg. He also was introduced to twelve-tone composition by Josef Ruler. In 1931, he moved back to Athens, where he turned to writing popular music under the pseudonym Costas Yannidis, which he adopted to distinguish himself from Grigoris Constantinidis, a famous operetta composer of the time. After thirty successful years in the field, he retired in 1962 to concentrate on composing and revising earlier works, as well as on his work as a producer of classical music programs at the Second Program of Hellenic Radio and Television. He died in Athens on January 17, 1984.

Constantinidis's output consists of some 200 works, including 50 stage works, 5 song cycles, approximately 50 individual songs, choral works, film scores and several orchestral and chamber works--the most renowned being his two Dodecanisian Suites (1948 and 1949) and the Minor Asia Rhapsody (completed in 1965). Constantinidis considerably enriched the piano repertoire with numerous works: Sonatina (1927); 22 Songs and Dances from the Dodecanese (1943-1946); 44 Children's Pieces on Greek Melodies (Greek Miniatures) (1950-1951); First Sonatina (on folk melodies from the island of Crete) (1952); Second Sonatina (on folk melodies from Epirus) (1952); Third Sonatina (on folk melodies from the Dodecanese) (1953); 8 Dances from Greek Islands (1954) (arranged for two pianos in 1971); and 6 Studies in Greek Rhythms (1956-1958).

Inspired By Folk Music

Constantinidis belonged to the so-called Greek National School that practically dominated the musical world in Greece at the beginning of the twentieth century. Composers of the Greek National School developed a musical idiom that reflected the cultural dualism inherent in the conception of the modern Greek state. Specifically, they confirmed their cultural status as Europeans by utilizing the predominant stylistic tendencies of European art music while, at the same time, they reinforced their Hellenic identity by incorporating elements from Greek folk music, which served as the vital link between antiquity and the present. The construction of the Greek National School was part of a larger complex of historical, political, sociological and artistic developments and was promoted through the study of folk songs, dissemination of "national" dances and establishment of scholarly disciplines that supported the claim of cultural continuity with the past. (1)

Aligning himself with the ideas and principles of the Greek National School, Constantinidis turned to Greek folk music to find the source of his inspiration. Nearly all his works are based on carefully selected melodies from oral tradition, as well as from publications of Greek folk dances and demotic songs. (2) His compositions reveal a deep understanding and respect for folk music, which was undoubtedly strengthened by his acquaintance with the work of Swiss musicologist and conductor Samuel Baud-Bovy (1840-1910). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

44 Children's Pieces on Greek Melodies by Yannis Constantinidis: A Masterpiece of Mikrokosmic Proportions
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.