Thursday 25 May 2017

Paper title: Cosmopolitan Music by Cosmopolitan Musicians: The Case of Spyros Peristeris, Leading Figure of the Rebetiko

Given that the current discourse regarding the rebetiko, especially from fans and practitioners, often comprehends the realm of the style  as something ‘closed’ and ‘entrenched’, the examination of the work of Spyros Peristeris could grant a new perspective regarding the dialogue between dipoles and the convergence in diversity. With a father of Corfu descent 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.


In the context of one of the world’s most organic melting pots, Istanbul, The Centre for Advanced Studies in Music, Istanbul Technical University, will host an international conference, in partnership with the European Research Council funded project “Beyond East and West,” May 25-27, 2017.

No music is an island. Since time immemorial, cultures have traded and mixed musics across their domains, yet only in the 21st century have people around the world gained instant and virtually free access to musics beyond those of their neighbors. The history of these mixings has been marked by a plethora of descriptors, some benign and others acerbic. Depending on one’s perspective, the “other” musics span the gamut of primitive (“first”), Oriental, classical, art, learned, popular, etc. Their mixtures have been termed synthetic, syncretic, trans-traditional, trans-cultural, intercultural, cross-cultural, borrowed, or globalized. The oral and the literate have been contrasted, while the exotic has been vilified. Quests for musical beauty and knowledge have been shaped by political, economic and social, hegemonic forces. We are now at a point where, for the first time in history, the playing field has reached a new level of equity, with widespread access to a majority of the world’s traditions, on a scale radically different from a mere generation ago.


Conference Website

TORUS web site