Theodorakis ~ Symphony 3

1. An intro

Symphony 3 is a classical music work for orchestra, choir and soprano. When searching for the texts for the choir and the soprano I could not find anything, not more than an utterly short, kind of sms-style info on the official Theodorakis website. There my search, research, for this Symphony 3 began. There was just one poem title. named: “The Demented Mother”. at least, this was the title that I found on the website. Source

I tried to find the Greek text, and eventually a translation, but it is nowhere, not even on the Theodorakis website. I translated all search terms into Greek, but nothing could be found. 

In one review of a performance of this symphony I read something about a mother who lost her mind; also about two children, sadness, death. In an illuminous moment I got the brilliant idea (proved to be so) to search for the word “mother”, not “demented mother” as the official website writes. This brought me to the website of Katerina Stamatelos, and her poetic English translation of a poem written by Dionysios Solomos. It is named : “The Insane Mother.” The English translation is hers. She also explains the term “insane” and this was fitting within my own growing insight about a maybe wrongly used term “demented”. In my opinion the term “demented” is wrong. When searching for information about dementia on professional websites I cannot find causes of dementia that occur suddenly, or within a context of emotional suffering. In psychology the term “trauma” however, or “traumatic experience” explains that a shock, a deep sadness, sudden bad news, can create a kind of what might seem to be “insanity”, but what is not insanity but an overwhelming emotion, so unbearable painful that the human survival instinct searches for a way to get rid of it. The “normal” way of reacting does not help anymore. What is helping is what is “abnormal” (compared with what is “normal”), but not insane, it is even utterly sane, excellent to avoid to become chronic insane. The poem should therefore be named: “The traumatized mother”. Here is her English version of a poem by Dionysios Solomos, and it might be a free interpretation of the original Greek version. 

Two poor siblings
are sleeping down
the without awakening
sleep of death,
and their mother lost her sanity.

The miserable! They were playing
there were the tower
stands; and a thunderbolt
struck
and left them lifeless,
the sorrowful.

Adorned with roses
dressed in white
they lowered them
embraced
into the last
forgetfulness.

Maybe this is the poem that inspired Theodorakis? But why has the webmaster of the English version of the official Theodorakis website accepted the title: the “demented” mother? Maybe he has copied the text that is also used by Breitkopf & Härtel:  Theodorakis_Symphony No. 3_textSource

In this Theodorakis_Symphony No. 3_text (Breitkopf & Härtel) I can read that the symphony starts with a poem, that must be the poem that inspired Theodorakis:

Now that the clear night took us
in our loneliness, I was waiting, and over there on
the cliffs splashes the Sea softly.

In a graveyard
two cypresses are standing brotherly
and flourish amidst the crosses.

When at midnight the winds come howling down,
if you saw them how they flutter,
you might even say, they are calling out for the living.

Two poor brothers sleep beneath them
the irreversible sleep of death
and their mother lost her mind.

Wreathed with roses, clothed in white,
they were lowered embracing
Into the unforgettableness to come.
(Dionysios Solomos)

In the following chapters I have tried to work with the pieces, found everywhere on the web, of what has been a real puzzle, named Symphony 3. Overview of the chapters:

  1. Intro
  2. The Creation of  Symphony 3
  3. Information from the Breitkopf & Härtel website
  4. Petros of EPON
  5. Dionysios Solomos
  6. Konstantinos Kavafis
  7. Lyrics of Symphony Three
  8. Concerts:
  • Moscow Symphony Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Dimitri Kitayenko. 1982
  • Orchester der Komischen Oper, Rundfunkchor Berlin, cond. by Heinz Rögner 1984
  • The Greek National Symphony Orchestra and Chorus of ERT,  conducted by Mikis Theodorakis. 1993

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2. The Creation of the Symphony

The symphony has been changed several times by the composer, who started composing this symphony when he was 15 (in 1940),  before it was finally premiered in 1981, 41 years later. I have added several versions of performances in this post, but I do not know if there have been real essential changes after 1981 as well. As far I have understood the info of the 1993 version, this has been also a premiere, this time in Athens, and I guess because of another version of the Symphony. This one can be found as the last added version in this post, the one with Markella Hatziano.

The symphony has four parts (source 1source 2)

  1. Adagio – presto – Piu mosso – Andante – Andantino – Presto  ▫️Duration: 24:03 ▫️expression of grief transforms into the form of an elegy [elegy: a lament for the dead] 

  2. Allegro moderato – Presto ▫️Duration: 15:02▫️ a state of agitation [a state of anxiety or nervous excitement.] 

  3. Byzantine Hymn for Petros of EPON (Adagio – Andante) ▫️Duration: 10:34▫️ a commemorative tribute 

  4. Allegro vivace – Poco meno – Tempo primo – Poco meno ~
    Presto – Largo – Andante – Largo ~ ▫️Duration: 18:35 ▫️a feeling of bewilderment 

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Symphony no. 3 has been set to

  • the poetry of Dionysios Solomos
  • the poetry of Constantine P. Cavafys
  • the poetic texts of Byzantine Hymns

Source

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3. Information from the Breitkopf & Härtel website

“Breitkopf & Härtel” about “Symphony 3“: (sentences or words between [ ] are mine)

World première [world premiere! One in 1982 and one in 1993. In this post is also a version of 1982, with the Moscow Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Dimitri Kitayenko, but I do not know if this was performed in Berlin, if this was the premiere. There is the 1993 premiere however, added as the last here in the post, the one with Markella Hatziano.]

  1. version Berlin, 1982
  2. version Athens, 1993

With his compositions, Theodorakis did much to draw international attention to the finest example of Greek poetry. His Symphony No. 3 is based on verses by Dionysios Solomos (1798–1837). 

In 1823, the poet wrote his “Hymn to Freedom”, the first stanza being later adopted as the Greek national anthem. At the age of 14 [the official website writes 15], while still under the influence of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, Theodorakis had set to music several parts of Solomos’ poem “The Demented Mother”. [The word “demented” must be a mistake and, as discussed in this post already, is also used on the official website. The word “insane”, but even better would be the term “traumatized” is more acceptable within the story that happened with the mother’s two children and her reaction on it. I searched on professional websites about dementia. There is not any form of dementia, that starts suddenly. Insanity however, becoming insane of grief, can be created by a traumatic experience and can last as long the trauma has not been treated by professionals.]

[Theodorakis:] “Foreign occupation, the national resistance and EPON [meaning] opened up a new way for me. The tragic mood of pessimism and romanticism gave way to a feeling of protest and a desire to act. Those were the circumstances surrounding the writing of the aria ‘We will pick a few flowers tomorrow’.” [There is no text available on the web of this aria, not in the Greek translation either. The text of the symphony can be read in this Breitkopf & Härtel Theodorakis_Symphony No. 3_text (PDF) in German, English and French]

The composer repeatedly revised his work, all previous versions finally merging into the Third Symphony in 1981. The aria mentioned above formed the concluding part by incorporating the “Byzantine Hymn for Petros” of EPON. [Nothing on the web can be found about the Byzantine Hymn for Petros (I searched for this term on the web because this has been put explicitly between quotation marks in the Breitkopf & Härtel text): there is no Byzantine hymn about Saint Peter, or Άγιος Πέτρος, but when searching for the term “Petros of EPON” translated via google into Πέτρο της ΕΠΟΝ then an interesting page opens, in Greek. More about it in the next paragraph.] 

In the third movement, Theodorakis brought his threnody up to date. As a humanist with a universal message he cut across epochs and genres, combining ecclesiastic with secular features and fusing the present and the past.

The expression of grief successively takes the form of an elegy (first movement), a state of agitation (second movement), a commemorative tribute (third movement) and a feeling of bewilderment (fourth movement).

In the closing movement, the aimless repetitions and Largo melody, ascending in feeble, subdued tones, evoke the sense of loneliness that pervades the late works of Schostakovich, which also reflect on the meaning of death.
(Albrecht Dümling – Translation: Bernd Zöllner, INTERTEXT) 

CD 
Els Bolkestein (Sopran), Rundfunkchor Berlin, 
Orchester der Komischen Oper Berlin, Ltg. Heinz Rögner 
CD Berlin Classics 0032412BC”  [till so far the Breitkopf and Härtel text]

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4. Petros of EPON ~ Πέτρος της ΕΠΟΝ

Part three of the symphony is the Byzantine Hymn for Petros of EPON. The following soundtrack is from the version of 1982; the aria mentioned earlier and with the title: “We will pick a few flowers tomorrow” starts at 05:10 in this soundtrack. It is utterly powerful, deep, and so moving.

Who is this Petros? Nothing on the web can be found about the Byzantine Hymn for Petros (I searched for this term on the web because this has been put explicitly between quotation marks in the Breitkopf & Härtel text): there is no Byzantine hymn about Saint Peter, or Άγιος Πέτρος, (the term “Byzantine hymn” is related with the Orthodox church and Saints) but when searching for the term “Petros of EPON” translated via google into Πέτρο της ΕΠΟΝ then an interesting page opens, in Greek. This one.

Petros_Antaios

Since I have learned to distrust google translations, I just picked up some names and that what is totally clear. The Greek article, written by Δημήτρης Γκιώνης / Dimitris Gionis, opens with the title Ο «Πέτρος της ΕΠΟΝ» και του «Θεμέλιου»Ο «Πέτρος της ΕΠΟΝ» και του «Θεμέλιου», (google: “Peter of Epon” and “The Foundation”) and the subtitle: Ο Δημήτρης Δεσποτίδης, από τον Βασίλη Βασιλικό: Dimitris Despodidis, by Vasilis Vasilikos. Is the title of the article also the title of a book, written by Dimitris Despodidis? The name Dimitris Despodidis is also in another article, in Ασματα και μιασματα. The name Vasilis Vasilikos belongs to a journalist: I found his name in wiki.

The article starts with: “He [Petros of EPON] was the fighter of the Resistance, to whom Mikis Theodorakis has devoted a part of his “Third Symphony”: “Byzantine hymn devoted to Petros of EPON” – [google translates strange:] they are to (?) Dimitris Despodidis.

Petros of EPON is Petros Antaios and this name is the pseudonym for Stavros Giannakopoulos. More: Biblionet, Petros Antaios 1920-2002; Tvxs: Remembrance article (2012, ten years after Petros Antaios death); GreekBooks: Symphony 3

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5. Dionysios Solomos

Symphony number 3 has been composed when Theodorakis was inspired by the poem (tells the official website) “The Demented Mother”, written by Dionysios Solomos. The poem is nowhere to be found though, not with this title; there is a possibility that the title should be: “The Insane Mother”. More info in the former paragraph.

Who was Dionysios Solomos?

Dionysios Solomos (Greek: Διονύσιος Σολωμός – 8 April 1798 – 9 February 1857) was a Greek poet from Zakynthos. He is best known for writing the Hymn to Liberty (Greek: Ὕμνος εις την Ἐλευθερίαν”), of which the first two stanzas, set to music by Nikolaos Mantzaros, became the Greek national anthem in 1865.

Inspired by the Greek War of Independence, Solomos wrote the hymn to honour the struggle of Greeks for independence after centuries of Ottoman rule.

The poet recounts the misery of the Greeks under the Ottomans and their hope for freedom. He describes different events of the War, such as the execution of Patriarch Gregory V of Constantinople, the reaction of the Great Powers, extensively the Siege of Tripolitsa and the Christian character of the struggle. More.

Hymn to Liberty

Dionysios Solomos was the central figure of the Heptanese School of poetry, and is considered the national poet of Greece—not only because he wrote the national anthem, but also because he contributed to the preservation of earlier poetic tradition and highlighted its usefulness to modern literature. Other notable poems include Ὁ Κρητικός (Τhe Cretan), Ἐλεύθεροι Πολιορκημένοι (The Free Besieged) and others. A characteristic of his work is that no poem except the Hymn to Liberty was completed, and almost nothing was published during his lifetime. More

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6. Κωνσταντίνος Καβάφης, Konstantinos Kavafis, Cavafy

Because of  information, found on July 8, 2017, I could search for “Kavafis, Symphony 3” This brought me to the website of the “United States Holocaust Memorial Museum”, and this page about Symphony number 3: “a work for soprano, choir and orchestra after a text by Dionysios, a Byzantine hymn and a stanza by Konstantinos Kavafis.”

Important for this paragraph is the name Kavafis. One stanza has been used for the third symphony. There is a new puzzle though. Via YouTube I found a video with Symphony number three and the name Kavafis: Μικης Θεοδωρακης, Η Πολης. Κων νος Καβαφης. So, it is from the poem Η Πολης (the City)?

I found this also as a song, same melody as in the symphony, and Vasilis Gisdakis is singing about “The City”, Η Πολης.

Is this song a transcription by Mikis Theodorakis of part three of the symphony or is part three of the symphony based on a by Theodorakis already composed song? There are more versions of this song available on YouTube, like this one.

Konstantinos Kavafis

“The City”

You said: “I’ll go to another country, go to another shore,
find another city better than this one.
Whatever I try to do is fated to turn out wrong
and my heart lies buried as though it were something dead.
How long can I let my mind moulder in this place?
Wherever I turn, wherever I happen to look,
I see the black ruins of my life, here,
where I’ve spent so many years, wasted them, destroyed them totally.”

You won’t find a new country, won’t find another shore.
This city will always pursue you. You will walk
the same streets, grow old in the same neighborhoods,
will turn gray in these same houses.
You will always end up in this city. Don’t hope for things elsewhere:
there is no ship for you, there is no road.
As you’ve wasted your life here, in this small corner,
you’ve destroyed it everywhere else in the world.

Source

Confusing! Because this melody is the same as part three in the Symphony, the so called Byzantine Hymn, the tribute to Petros of EPON! What is “Byzantine” about this poem, or part three of the symphony?

An example of a Byzantine hymn:

Another example of what really sounds “Byzantine” in my ears, also because of the scales that are used in a composition of the Cretan Yiannis Markopoulos. Title: Άκρα του τάφου σιωπή (A deadly hush). The intro (till 00:50) sounds very Byzantine in my ears, though the performer is secular, not a priest: I try to find reasons why Theodorakis names this third part “Byzantine” hymn When is a composition Byzantine? Are the words Byzantine? No. The music: no. Was Petros the Saint Petros? No, he is Petros of EPON. Is EPON Byzantine? No, it is a communist youth organisation.

The intro of this Markopoulos composition is sung by Vassilikos. The intro is followed by a song, sung by Yiorgos Dalaras. The lyrics are from a poem by Dionysios Solomos, the poet that inspired also Mikis Theodorakis. (More in the former paragraph.)

The verses in this third movement are from the Good Friday liturgy, by Konstantinos Kavafis and Mikis Theodorakis.  Not one word about the poem “The City” in the information from Breitkopf & Härtel. When reading the Good Friday poem and comparing it with “The City” then I can “hear” similar metaphors, but I have not any proof that I am right.

O, my sweet spring, sweetest child of mine
whose beauty faded.
We are all surrounded.

There is no ship for you
so there is no escape,
Wherever you go
it will always follow you.

Life in the grave Thou hast offered, Christ,
and the heavenly hosts startled
accompanied Thee with praises.

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Closing remark

The third movement is a melody which is available as “The City”, a poem by Kavafis, on YouTube, but in the 3rd symphony, 3rd movement only the melody is the same, the words are from another poem by Kavafis, dedicated to Good Friday, and therefore I may conclude that only this creates the title for this 3rd movement: Byzantine Hymn. 

I do not hear a Byzantine sound in this third part however.

Maybe interesting as feedback:

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7. Texts

First Movement

Now that the clear night took us
in our loneliness, I was waiting, an dover there on
the cliffs splashes the Sea softly.

In a graveyard
two cypresses are standing brotherly
and flourish amidst the crosses.

When at midnight the winds come howling down,
if you saw them how they flutter,
you might even say, they are calling out for the living.

Two poor brothers sleep beneath them
the irreversible sleep of death
and their mother lost her mind.

Wreathed with roses, clothed in white,
they were lowered embracing
Into the unforgettableness to come.
Dionysios Solomos

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Second Movement

Water splashing from where it spouts
and sprinkles the tombstones
the only break of the silence.
No other signs remind of the burial
but for the scent of incense
where it was poured into the wilderness.

No barking to hear of a stray dog;
no bird’s singing to hear, nor the sound of a single lip,
nor a twig’s whispering breathing pleasantly.

Dionysios Solomos

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Third Movement

O, my sweet spring, sweetest child of mine
whose beauty faded.
We are all surrounded.

There is no ship for you
so there is no escape,
Wherever you go
it will always follow you.

Life in the grave Thou hast offered, Christ,
and the heavenly hosts startled
accompanied Thee with praises.

Verse from the Good Friday liturgy, by Konstantinos Kavafis and Mikis Theodorakis

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Fourth Movement

Circled and circled and finally enters
the belfry. She ascends
changing her traces swiftly.

She stands, smelling something in the wind
contemplating, -Mother in black –
as if trying to remember something.

She leans rooted against the wall, watching,
smiling with sweet sadness-
down at the grave’s bitter grass.

Up to the clouds, up to the stars,
clang, clang,
trembling she throws up her hands,
and cries and screams terrifyingly.

She stood in the speechless silence,
rounded Moon pouring light
like in the radiant first night.

But the poor senseless woman
looks all around frighteningly,
rings the bells, screams out with a crushed voice:

«Fast begone from the ravines,
frightening dark shadows.

Fast begone, I can not endure them.
They resemble, resemble the torn
cloth that covered the two children.»

Clang, clang, the bells of the church.
Clang, clang, the echoes of the wilderness.

From the forlorn voice crying in the wilderness,
so miserable yet a consoler,
the two children had two talismans.

«I have them on my bosom and keep them there
and with these talismans I want to count
their two graves every day.

Hoarse chanting. The candles are smoldering;
the wood of the deathbed is creaking;
lately the bells ring out resoundingly.

Yes, they did die; amidst the gloom
they lowered them down – I hear the noise –
they lowered them down, deep down.

Why do you throw earth on them?
Do not, do not cover the little bodies
which fell asleep sweetly, sweetly.

Tomorrow we will pick some flowers,
tomorrow we will sing some songs
on the full blossoming First of May.

Look how the dew-bringing breeze awakens
and as it whispers
it smells sweetly of the morning stars’ fragrance.

Through the leaves it passes and through the heart
like the waves of phantasy
that paint happiness.

There the wretched mother holds her breath,
her feelings deep inside her breast,
ah! and descended into the wilderness.

With sadness in her heart she watched
over all the tombstones and counted them,
slowly moving her head.

Dionysios Solomos
Translation from the Greek original: Andreas Meissler.

 


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1. Moscow Symphony Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Dimitri Kitayenko

  • Soprano: ?
  • Narrator: ?
  • *1982

Dmitri Georgievich Kitayenko was born 18 August 1940 in Leningrad, Soviet Union and studied at the Glinka Conservatory and those of Leningrad and Moscow. He was a prizewinner in the first Herbert von Karajan competition in 1969. More

Dmitrij Kitajenko, Dirigent

The Moscow Symphony Orchestra is one of the leading orchestras in the capital today. Since its inception in 1989, the orchestra became an active participant in the musical life of Moscow, having performed under famous Russian and foreign conductors such as Arthur Arnold, Vladimir Ziva, Sergey Stadler, Arnold Katz and with outstanding soloists like Yuri Bashmet, Victor Tretiakov, Vadim Repin, Alexander Knyazev and Alexander Rudin. More

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Adagio (0:00)
Allegro moderato (22:18)
Byzantine Hymn for Petros of E.P.O.N (35:44)
Allegro vivace (45:06)

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2. Orchester der Komischen Oper, Rundfunkchor Berlin, conducted by Heinz Rögner

 

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3. The Greek National Symphony Orchestra and Chorus of ERT,  conducted by Mikis Theodorakis

The video has been uploaded by Markella Hatziano in her own YouTube channel. The quality is unfortunately not excellent.

  • Soprano: Markella Hatziano
  • Narrator Lefteris Voyatzis
  • Year: 1993 (Athens)

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Since this version has been published by the soprano in this performance, I took the freedom to take the to this video belonging information from the Theodorakis website

SYMPHONY N°3, 2nd VERSION, AST 291
Composition: 1992 à Athènes
Mouvements:
1. Adagio – Presto – Piu mosso – Andante – Andantino – Presto
2. Allegro moderato – Presto
3. “Vizantinos Imnos gia tou Petros tis EPON”:
Adagio – Andante
4. Allegro vivace – Poco meno – Tempo primo – Poco meno – Presto – Largo – Andante – Largo
Creation: 11.4.1993 at Megaro Mousikis Athens
Markella Hatziano, Choeur et Orchestre ERT, dir.: Mikis Theodorakis


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Info of the soundtrack with the hymn to liberty:

Κέντρο Χορωδιακής Πράξης στην Κεφαλονιά – 2η Συνάντηση Χορωδιών 1999
Διονύσιος Σολωμός – Νικόλαος Μάντζαρος-Χαλικιόπουλος:
Ύμνος εις την Ελευθερίαν (στο Youtube αποσπάσματα), Αργοστόλι,10.9 1999 – LIVE
Ενορχήστρωση & χορωδιακή επεξεργασία: Άλκης Μπαλτάς, (ανάθεση του ΚΧΠ)
ΧΟΡΩΔΙΕΣ: ΕΡΤ (Α. Κοντογεωργίου), Πολυφωνική Πάτρας (Στ. Σολωμός), Παιδική Πολυφωνικής Πάτρας (Λ. Σουρμελή), “Αρμονία¨Πρέβεζας (Β. Στεφάνωφ), Παιδική “Αρμονία” Πρέβεζας (Α, Στεφάνοβα), Παιδική Δήμου Ροδίων (Γ. Σακελλαρίδης), Παιδική & Γυναικεία Δήμου Αργοστολίου (Α. Γεωργακάτος), Αργοστολίου (Β. Μουντάκης).
Συντονισμός Χορωδιών: Αντώνης Κοντογεωργίου
Η Ορχήστρα Σύγχρονης Μουσικής της ΕΡΤ
Διεύθυνση: ΑΛΚΗΣ ΜΠΑΛΤΑΣ

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About "The Music of Mikis Theodorakis"

The blog "The Music of Mikis Theodorakis" started in 2010. The not-for-profit activities of the initiator were and are to collect, create and publish information about the MUSIC of the Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis via YouTube, Google+, Twitter, and this blog. Sources for this information are utterly strictly related with Mikis Theodorakis' Music only. The icon is a bouzouki. It is Greece's national symbol for freedom. During the Regime of the Colonels (Military Junta, 1967-1974) the bouzouki was forbidden. Mikis Theodorakis used this authentic Greek instrument in almost all his compositions, and Greeks were listening to Theodorakis's music in the underground scene, during the Military Junta time.
This entry was posted in Art, Classical Music, Mikis Theodorakis, Music, Symphonies and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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