Monday, December 21, 2009

The Inspirer Of Two Generations (Manos Hadjidakis at Kemal, 1969 & 1993)

he head-corner stone of Greek music. Manos Hadjidakis is without a doubt, the most important composer and conductor in Greece's modern history. We simply can't compress this man's life and works in a few lines and we will certainly refer to him repeatedly on the posts to come. Regarding his life and works you can take a look to the wiki article. What we will post here is what he responded when he was asked so:

I was born on 23rd October, 1925, in Xanthi, that quaint old town and not the eyesore that was later developed by migrants from rural areas. The blending, in those days, of a belle époque decorative style with Ottoman minarets gave colour and substance to a community hailing from all corners of the land, and which, incidentally, found itself living in an outlying region, dancing the Charleston in public squares. When I first saw the light of day, I was amazed to notice the number of people that awaited my arrival. (Even later on I never ceased to be amazed, as if they were waiting for me to make a late appearance.) My mother was from Adrianople, the daughter or Konstantinos Arvanitidis, and my father from Myrthio, the prefecture of Rethymnon, Crete. I am the offspring of two people who, as far as I know, never cooperated except when they decided to produce me. That is why I have in me thousands of conflicting elements and every kind of mixed blessing. However, my bourgeois conscience, along with my "European tutelage," so to speak, yielded an impressive result.
Manos Hadjidakis and Nikos Gatsos drinking coffee at "Zonar's", Athens.
Throughout the time we lived in Xanthi, I tried to get to know my parents really well and to do away with my sister! I failed in both instances. In 1932 we moved to Athens, where I could never get over my failure.

In the capital I began living and studying, while, at the same time, I became initiated into the erotic and poetic functions of the times. But I received an "Attic education,” when there was still an “Attica” and "Education" in the country. I was deeply influenced by Erotokritos, General Makriyannis, the Fix Brewery, Haralambos, the waiter at Vyzantion, the damp climate of Thessaloniki, and chance encounters with strange people who remained strangers in after years. During the period of German occupation, I decided that music lessons were useless, for they had a way of diverting me from my initial objectives, which were to communicate, to convey, and to disappear. That is why I stopped them right after the war. Thus, I never attended a conservatory, and was saved from becoming like those members of the Panhellenic Musical Society. I wrote poems and many songs, and I made every effort to carry my point democratically, something that proved highly beneficial to me when later on I became an official. I avoided at all costs whatever hurt my feeling of love and sensibility.

I travelled extensively, and this helped me realize that stupidity is not a Greek exclusivity, as local chauvinists and votaries of nationalism proudly claim and go out of their way to prove. In parallel, I found it absolutely essential that people who interested me should speak Greek, because communication in a foreign language proved onerous and tended to negate half of my personality.

In 1966 I found myself in America. I lived there for about six years (the years of dictatorship in Greece), purely for tax reasons. It was discovered that I owed the Inland Revenue something like Drs.3.5 million. Having settled my debt, I returned in 1972, and opened a café-theatre, which I named Polytropon. It functioned until the political changeover in 1974, which marked the advent of football mania and the political defusion of the masses. I kept my cool, and refrained from partaking in national and anti-dictatorial dances in gymnasiums and football grounds packed with youths. When I shut up shop, my liabilities were in the region of Drs.3.5 million - a fatal number as far as I was concerned.
In 1975 began for me a period in the limelight, which, for the purpose of distinguishing it, I shall call “clerical,” and which made me famous among a large and ignorant public - Greek, of course - as an implacable enemy of Greek music, Greek musicians, as well as Greek culture. During this time, and after an abortive heart attack, I strove once again, albeit unsuccessfully, to implement my costly café-theatre ideas on Greek Radio and through the Ministry of Culture by democratic means. Both these organizations, rotten to the core, made a successful stand against me - beat me hollow, as they say. Be that as it may, this period marked the nascence and commanding presence of the Third Programme.

The résumé of my life to date is as follows:
I shun at fame. It restricts me within its confines and not mine.
I believe in the song that reveals us and express us deeply, and not the one that humours our naive and forcibly acquired habits.
I feel contempt for those whose object is not to receive their ideas and intellectual pursuits; complacent contemporaries; dark and shady journalism; and every form of vulgarity.

Thus, I managed to put the finishing touches to my personality, one traumatized in childhood, ending up by selling "lottery tickets in the sky" and inviting the respect of younger people, since I have remained a genuine Greek and a Magnus Eroticus.

The album "Reflections" was released in 1969 in New York, composed by Manos Hadjidakis and perfomed by New York Rock and Roll Ensemble. In 1993, it was released again with Greek lyrics written by Nikos Gatsos in Athens. The most famous song of the album is given below, Kemal. The translation from Greek is credited to Sinistro. Hadjidakis himself prologues the song, and Aliki Kagialoglou is singing. Masterpiece.

music: Manos Hadjidakis, lyrics: Nikos Gatsos
vocals: Aliki Kagialoglou

"Hark to the story of Kemal
a young prince of the East
descendant of Sinbad the Sailor
who thought he could change the world.
But bitter is the will of Allah
and dark the souls of men."

In the lands of the East once upon a time
the purse was empty and the water stale.
In Mosul* and Basra* on the old coconut tree
the children of the desert now cry bitter tears.

And a young man of an old and royal line
hears the lament and grows near.
the Bedouins look at him sadly
and he gives them an oath in Allah's name, that times will change.

When the lords heard of the lad's fearlessness
they set out with wolf's teeth and lion's skin
from Tigris** to Euphrates**, from the earth to the heavens
they hunt for the deserter, to capture him alive.

The horde descends upon him like rabid dogs
and takes him to the Caliph to place the noose [on his neck]
black honey and black milk he drank that morning
before he breathed his last on the gallows.

The Prophet*** awaits before the Gates of Heaven
with two elderly camels and a red horse.
They now go hand in hand and it's cloudy
but the star of Damascus kept them company.

In a month and a year they see Allah before them
and from his high throne he says to the simple Sinbad:
"my beaten smart-aleck, times do not change,
the world always moves on by fire and blades"

Goodnight Kemal, this world will never change.

*Cities in Iraq.
**Rivers in the region of Mesopotamia.

(Translations also available in Italian, Hebrew, Polish, German)

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