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“The Patrimony of Our Race”:
Louis-Albert Bourgault-Ducoudray and the Emergence of the Discourse on Greek National Music

In 1876, Albert-Louis Bourgault-Ducoudray published a collection of “melodies from Greece and the Orient” in the conviction that he had found vestiges of Ancient Greek music in Greek folk music of his day. Bringing folk music to the attention of the educated classes, he hoped to fertilize art music and create the preconditions for a Greek national music. He also supplied the melodies that he collected with piano accompaniment, that is, he harmonized them. In his mind, harmonization was but the first step toward the formation of a Greek national music. Soon after this, his Greek project was embedded in hindsight in a broader Aryanist project explicitly described in the “Introduction” to his 1885 collection of Breton folk songs. Folk song harmonizations then became the first step toward the formation of the Aryan art music of the future. In the 1890s, he worked with Greek baritone Periklis Aravantinos, alias Aramis, to produce what he thought of as musical arguments for Aryanism. Aramis, a collector and harmonizer of folk songs himself, appeared in 1903 before Greek audiences in an attempt to promote a national school of music. Aramis’s and Bourgault-Ducoudray’s ideas on folk song harmonization and national music were in part vindicated by composer Spyros Samaras, a common friend, especially in the latter’s symbolically loaded Rhea (1908). His and other musical nationalisms were eclipsed by the appearance of the man most readily connected today to a Greek national school of music, Manolis Kalomoiris.

In the 1890s, Greek baritone Aramis (the stage name of Periklis Aravantinos, 1859–1932) appeared frequently in concert in London, often together with French composer and folk song collector Louis-Albert Bourgault-Ducoudray (1845–1910). We get a glimpse of his performances in the following concert report from the Musical Times (1898b), given here in full: [End Page 49]

M. Aramis gave another of his attractive recitals of old popular Greek folksongs, on the 3rd [June 1898], at the Steinway Hall. As on previous occasions, a considerable number of the songs were drawn from the fine collection made by M. Bourgault-Ducoudray; but several others had been collected by M. Aramis, and two of them were new to London. These were respectively entitled “My Helen” and “The Battle of Mega Spélion [sic],” and had been harmonized with artistic discretion by Mr. Edgar F. Jacques. Both proved excellent examples of the distinctive class to which they belong, and were interpreted by the concert-giver with the dramatic point and Southern intensity of expression which this music imperatively demands. Three other lyrics were accompanied by the expressive and poetic gesture dancing of Mdlle. Sandrini attired in statuesque draperies, and one of them proved so attractive, that its repetition was insisted upon. An admirably lucid description was given by Mr. E. F. Jacques of the Ancient Greek scales and modes upon which the melodies of these folk songs are based, and in the second part he read some interesting remarks, by M. Bourgault-Ducoudray, on the history and peculiarities of the European dances of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, illustrations of the various steps being given by Mdlle. Sandrini.

The Aramis recital comprised, besides the singing of harmonized folk songs (that is, folk melodies sung with a polyphonic piano accompaniment), the recitation of “lyrics” accompanied by “expressive and gesture dancing,” as well as two lectures on Ancient Greek modes and European dances of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. Of the activities described, only the first one (singing) fits readily our modern understanding of a recital frame.1 The Aramis recital seems characteristic of a time of “polymorphous performativity,” according to Joy Kasson’s fortuitous expression (cited in Brownell 2008, 1). The intentional content of the event described in the Musical Times report must have been evident to the 1898 readership; it eludes, however, the modern reader. Actions can have many different descriptions, as was famously demonstrated by G.E.M. Anscombe’s Intention (1957). One way to state a major goal of this article is this: to find a relevant description under which the various actions included in the Aramis concert were intentional and constituted a single, meaningful event: “the Aramis concert.”

Any plausible answer to the Aramis concert frame question requires reference to the contemporary reception of Greek folk songs and Greek antiquity, and the way these Greek cultural aspects were embedded in the contemporary European framework. It should also refer to then predominant ideas on race and the relation Europeans entertained with their Others. In the context of nineteenth-century colonialism and emerging nationalisms, debates around race bespoke deep-seated anxieties about European identities. Music played a crucial role in supporting racial theories (Pasler 2008, 465). Nineteenth-century scientific racism and specifically Aryanism are the common ideological threads running through the activities in the Aramis concert. As I will try [End Page 50] to establish in the following pages, all the activities described in the Aramis concert were thought to be manifestations of a common Indo-European or Aryan musical background. More importantly, the Aramis concert relates to the emergence process of a discourse on Greek national music, one going back to the activities of Albert-Louis Bourgault-Ducoudray. It was the latter’s Orientalist frame of mind, as well as his later conversion to Aryanism, that explains the seeming paradox of a French composer initiating the project of Greek national music, sometime before Georgios Lambelet’s polemical essay on “National Music” (1901).

First, it is necessary to differentiate between the overlapping but non-identical terms of “scientific racism,” “Aryanism,” and “eugenics.” The modern sciences of biology and physical anthropology “were founded on the conviction that racial difference was real, fundamental, and key to understanding the proper relationships between human groups” (Blatt 2007, 4121). Moreover, scholars like German philologist Friedrich Max Müller (1823–1900) saw a link between Indo-European languages and the white or Aryan race (Díaz-Andreu 2007, 224). “Aryanism,” the grouping together peoples of Europe and West Asia and ascribing to them characteristics of a distinctive race of Caucasians or whites, stands as a manifestation of scientific racist dogmas, firmly holding onto the equation of language and race. On a more political and diplomatic level, Aryanism served as a justification for colonial politics (Ballantyne 2002; Said 2003; Pagden 2008). Especially in the artistic milieu, and for all its pseudo-scientific posturing, Aryanism was concomitant more often than not with irrational systems of belief related to theosophy and the occult.2 Scientific racism and Aryanism in fin-de-siècle Europe have become something of an embarrassment in post-1945 research, resulting in probably the most salient instance of a recent “confusion between science and ethics” (Poliakov 1970, 412). However, Aryanism played a critical role in shaping the agendas of many late-nineteenth and early twentieth-century artists, scientists, scholars, and hommes and femmes des lettres to such a degree that accounting for it is indispensable for understanding the aspirations and achievements of the period’s historical actors. As Léon Poliakov put it, at the end of the nineteenth century, the Aryan theory “avait acqui droit de cité parmi les savants, à peu près au même titre que celle de l’éther intersidéral” (had gained almost as much ground among scholars as the theory of the ether of interstellar space;3 1970, 410). Finally, eugenics originated as a theory in a monograph published by Sir Francis Galton in 1869, claiming that natural selection could be applied to improve the human race. While in its positive form it included measures for the relief of human misery and could coexist without any tension with socialist ethics (as in the case of Fabian socialists G.B. Shaw and H.G. Wells), in its negative form, namely, the one arguing for the extermination of the so-called human bad-seeds, and more [End Page 51] often than not in combination with Aryanism, eugenics presented the worst and most aggressive form of racism of the time—the one that reached its nec plus ultra in the Holocaust (see Childs 2004, 1–21).

In nineteenth-century Greece, the Indo-European hypothesis was presupposed in a great part of scholarly writing. For example, we find it in the articles on Indian studies by Georgios Typaldos (1866), the Greek editor of the corpus of Indologist Dimitrios Galanos; in the work of chief national historian, Konstantinos Paparregopoulos (1815–1891), and his continuator, the royalist scholar Spyridon Lambros; and in lay scholarship, such as the anthropological essays published by Dr. Theodoros Argyropoulos in almanacs like the Αττικόν Ημερολόγιον (for example, Argyropoulos 1888). However, the chief challenge faced by Greek intellectuals in the nineteenth and early twentieth century was the task of refuting the Fallmerayan thesis (Veloudis 1970) that Modern Greeks were not the same people as Pericles and Plato and their compatriots; instead, Modern Greeks consisted in a mixture of mainly Slavs and Albanians, who had invaded Greece in the medieval period.4 Greek intellectuals felt deeply insulted by Fallmerayer’s argumentation, which was directly aiming to undermine both the validity of their identity construal as well as the basis of Philhellenic feelings in the West. Although racial argumentation was not explicitly used by Fallemerayer himself, his rejection of the continuity between Ancient and Modern Greeks was understood in biological terms. Since Modern Greek racial purity was being questioned, Greek intellectuals responded by limiting “their engagement with racial and evolutionary anthropological theories, preferring instead to focus on ethnographies and folklore studies, which they considered the most reliable means to shore up the assertion of modern continuity with the ancient past” (Kitroeff 2008, 314). In the end, Aryanist ideology concerned a small number of cosmopolitan diaspora Greek intellectuals, such as the Florence-based Corfiote scholar Margarita Albana-Mignaty (1821–1887; see Vlagopoulos 2015) and the Liverpool-based demoticist Petros Vlastos (1879–1941), to take two examples spanning the fin-de-siècle period.

Concerning music, racial arguments had been discussed in Greece by Paparregopoulos in the framework of his refutation of Karl Otfried Müller’s theory that the Dorians were the most authentic Greeks, found in Müller’s widely read 1824 monograph Die Dorier (Corbier 2014, 2015).5 In their 1917 Arion song collection, chemist Prokopios Zacharias (1873–1957) and composer Adamantios Remantas (dates unknown) likewise emphasized cultural continuity from ancient to present-day Greece. They referred to the ελληνικόν έθνος (Greek nation) in a radical application of Paparregopoulos’s unifying historical vision of the tripartite unfolding of the Greek nation through music, comprising antiquity, Byzantium, and Modern Greece: “Greek music, based as it is on the unaltered laws of harmony, remains one and the same from its creation in antiquity until the present day” (1917, “Preface,” i). [End Page 52]

The man most readily connected to Greek national music was Manolis Kalomoiris (1883–1962). On the extreme side of the demoticist political spectrum, poet and columnist Petros Vlastos was an admirer of Houston Stewart Chamberlain6 and a follower of negative eugenics, that is, the social philosophy committed to eradicating undesired traits (Vlastos 1908). To be sure, neither Kalomoiris nor anyone else from his circle ever used Aryanist argumentation. Instead, Kalomoiris accepted Greek music’s place in the “family of Oriental peoples” and envisioned assigning Greek music “the leading role in the framework of a comprehensive Oriental school” (cited in Frangou-Psychopaidi 1990, 99). Significantly, he preferred the term ρωμιοσύνη (Romiosyne) and its derivatives (as in the phrase ρωμαίϊκη ψυχή, [romaίike psyche, romaic soul]) to ελληνισμός (Hellenism).7 A few years earlier, Jean Psichari, in his famous Kiss lecture of 1893 (Psichari 1996), had compared Ancient and Modern Greek folk-poetic traditions on the literary subject of the kiss, only to find the modern traditions much more substantial and deep, in psychological terms, than the ancient. It was in this very sense, namely, with the assumption that ρωμιοσύνη incorporated Christian and Byzantine experience in addition to the Ancient Greek heritage, that the term became more important than ελληνισμός to Psichari and Kalomoiris. Generally, Psichari can be rightly seen as the larger-than-life, broad-minded intellectual at the center of contemporary discussions with people like Vlastos and Kalomoiris on either end of the political spectrum.8 In sum, I will argue that Aryanism’s more important manifestation in Greek musical and cultural life was connected to the national music projects of Bourgault-Ducoudray, Aramis, and part of Spyros Samaras’s work. In them, a special role was envisaged for harmonized Greek folk songs, that is, those songs having their melody transcribed into Western staff notation and provided with a piano accompaniment. Harmonization could be rightly called the “fourth life” of folk songs, if we are to follow Alexis Politis’s metaphorical enumeration that their first life was their original orality background, their second life existed in texts, and their third life was in recordings (2010, 262). A comparison with similar projects by Zacharias and Remantas and Georgios Lambelet (1875–1945), as well as with the views of Kalomoiris on the same subject will be undertaken later in this paper. This comparison will bear testimony to different approaches, interests, and preoccupations voiced in the Greek discourse on national music—a discourse that played a crucial role in contemporary discussions on national identity. In addressing a scholarly audience beyond the musicological community, my effort will be to show music’s highly political role in the relevant discussions, especially when Greek aspirations to join the European cultural scene as equals were combined with contemporary scientific racism, as in the Bourgault-Ducoudray/Aramis concerts. The main protagonists in the story I wish to tell are Aramis, Samaras, and Bourgault-Ducoudray. I will start from the latter. [End Page 53]

Albert-Louis Bourgault-Ducoudray

Bourgault-Ducoudray was not only a composer but also a music scholar, folk song enthusiast, promoter of choral song, and music history professor at the Paris Conservatoire from 1878 to 1910. His work has been described as “a higher level of scholarship than was common among nineteenth-century French writers on music” (Brody and Smith 2001). His pupils included Camille Bellaigue (the conservative music critic of the Revue des deux mondes) Claude Debussy,9 and the composer Maurice Emmanuel, who succeeded him in this post. He first came to Greece in 1874 to convalesce after having been wounded in the Paris Commune of 1871. He came again in 1875 for a five-month visit, when the French Ministry of Education assigned him to study Greek folk and church music. Bourgault-Ducoudray visited Athens and Smyrna and wrote down melodies sung to him by native informants, which he harmonized, transcribing them in Western notation and publishing them with piano accompaniment.10

Eight days after Bourgault-Ducoudray’s arrival in Athens on 15 January 1875, the Athenian newspaper Aion carried an anonymous article announcing his visit. The anonymous interviewer writes:11

Mr. Ducoudray came to Greece to study our church and folk music, being confident that he will discover therein vestiges of ancient music. … We were happy to converse with him and hear that the first samples he took corroborate his musical hypotheses. Mr. Ducoudray believes that if one removes the accretions of the barbarous times that modified it in many ways, this music can become something quite important as an object of study, and the basis for the formation of a wholly national music. … This is a difficult, but nonetheless, feasible, endeavor. As an experienced mineralogist and miner could find flakes of gold in the ground that a non-expert might overlook, and could piece them together and produce bars of valuable metal; so the intelligent and scientific musician can discover in our music such flakes, which, cast in the mold of science, might become a golden musical body. Thus Mr. Ducoudray’s idea is logically and scientifically sound.

Indeed, Bourgault-Ducoudray found the gold he was looking for, as is evident from his publication of the Trente mélodies populaires de Grèce et d’Orient (1876a). Following the path of scholars of ancient music like Rudolph Westphal and François-Auguste Gevaert, he believed that he had succeeded in locating vestiges of Ancient Greek music in Modern Greek folk song. For him, the two most important aspects of Ancient Greek monophony were modes and rhythm. According to Kakouri (1991, 23), Bourgault-Ducoudray was different from previous folk song collectors, in that he tried to mediate between the folklorist and the composer, aiming at harmonizations that respected the individuality of the mode, while at the same time enriching his harmonic vocabulary. I would like to call this the mutual benefits argument, one that was [End Page 54] deeply related to the Orientalist agenda of the time. He wrote in a letter dated 13 July 1875 to Antonios Tzanetakis Stéphanopoli (1839–1913), a Corsican Greek who was the editor of the French speaking journal Messager d’Athènes and one of Bourgault-Ducoudray’s new Athenian acquaintances:

Should this collection be positively received in Greece, it could exert a considerable impact, since it will fix the noble aspects of local and folk music in the memory of the class [of Greeks] that used to look down on it—elsewhere too, because if these melodies be well harmonized, the modern musical language will be enriched with the multiple modes of antiquity that no longer exist.

The “considerable impact” meant is the “formation of a wholly national music,” made possible by the “enrich[ment]” of “modern musical language … with the multiple modes of antiquity.” This is the mutual benefits argument, namely, that by implementing the many “modes of antiquity,” Greek national music will be created, on the one hand, and the modern European musical language will be enriched, on the other. For this project to succeed, however, Bourgault-Ducoudray made the point that the mediation of the educated class was needed, since “des classes dédaigneuses” (the social class that used to look down on folk music) was the only one that had access to “modern [art] musical language.”

The mutual benefits argument remained central to Bourgault-Ducoudray throughout his life both as a teacher and a composer. In fact, Bourgault-Ducoudray, who today has sunk into oblivion even in France, was an ardent promoter of a typically French modernist response to Wagner’s Zukunftsmusik, which he tried to propagate in his capacities as composer, Conservatoire professor, performer, and public speaker.13 We can gain an insight into his enthusiasm for the monophonic modal repertoire from his writings, his activity as a composer, as well as from reports of his pupils like the aforementioned Bellaigue (1890) and Emmanuel.14

Bourgault-Ducoudray’s political commitment was complicated. He was originally an anti-Dreyfusard. After the Dreyfus Affair, however, he attempted “to rehabilitate himself with the Republic” in order to get in tune with the Republican institution that employed him. At the same time, all his life he remained close to the far rightwing nationalist organization Action Française (Fulcher 1999, 124). Bourgault-Ducoudray’s writings—particularly the introductions to his Greek (1876) and Breton (1885) collections, the 1878 Conférence (1879), the Souvenirs from his Greek journey (1876b), and his Études sur la musique grecque écclesiastique (1877)—bear ample evidence of a special ideological evolution. Before 1885, Bourgault-Ducoudray, both as a scholar and a composer, was a typical representative of the dominant Orientalist mindset of his time. His ideas on Semitic influences on ancient Greek music heritage due to the “cosmopolitan character of the new religion,” namely, Christianity [End Page 55] (Bourgault-Ducoudray 1877, 4–5), suggest that he was already familiar with Aryanism, although he makes no explicit reference to Aryanist ideology until 1885. In the fewer than the ten years that separate the Greek and the Breton collections, however, it seems that Bourgault-Ducoudray became an ardent believer in the Aryanist dogma, while always remaining attached to the Orientalist mutual benefits argument. As we read in the “Introduction” to his Breton collection, after he took over the music history classes at the Conservatoire in 1878, it did not take him long to come to the following realization:

The characteristics of Ancient music, the presence of which had already struck me in Greek popular melodies, were there to discover almost in every place in Europe. … Numerous collections of the folk melodies of these different countries allow us to note in every case, from the modal and rhythmic point of view, an evident family resemblance. It is proven today that identical characteristics are found in the primitive music of all the peoples who make up the Indo-European group—that is, the people of the Aryan race.

(1885, 15)

Furthermore, he argued that Aryan characteristics (in general racial and in particular musical characteristics) were eternal, unaffected by external factors related to time and place:

There is in all peoples belonging to the same race a common background of feelings which are transmitted and perpetuated without changing. If these feelings have never been essentially altered, there is no reason why folk melodies, which are but their spontaneous and instinctive expression, should have changed themselves.

(1885, 9)

In the folk music of the Aryan peoples, he continued, some primeval Aryan qualities were evident, now vivants et palpitants (alive and vibrant), especially if they (the music as well as the people) remained pur sang—that is, kept away from mixing, particularly with Semites, for in that case, they were demi-sang (Bourgault-Ducoudray 1885, 11). It is in this latter case that the Oriental scale (which Bourgault-Ducoudray always mentions in the singular)15 makes its appearance. According to Bourgault-Ducoudray, multiple modes were peculiar to Aryan peoples.

Ernst Renan’s philological work on the languages and history of the Middle East offers a suitable contemporary context to interpret the connection that Bourgault-Ducoudray draws between musical modes and Aryans. Renan and a number of other race theorists (Friedrich Max Müller and Adolphe Pictet, among others) had compiled a list of typically Aryan characteristics, which they understood in terms of binary opposites with corresponding Semitic characteristics. It is in this sense that one finds theoretical support for the connection between Aryans and modes in Renan (Arvidsson 1999, 337): while everything about the Semites is in the singular, except their wives, the Aryans multiply everything, except their wives: for example, they have both consonants and [End Page 56] vowels, a great number of distinct languages, innumerable divinities, and—one can imagine Bourgault-Ducoudray adding—a great number of modes.

One should note that whenever Bourgault-Ducoudray referred to diatonic melodies, he always meant the Greek ancient modes, no matter if the melodies concerned came from Greece, the Gregorian repertory, Sweden, or Russia (Bourgault-Ducoudray 1885, 19). Conversely, as already stated, he only spoke of the gamme chromatique oriental (Oriental chromatic scale) in the singular, regardless of the origin of the melody in question (for example, Bourgault-Ducoudray 1878, 47; 1885, 21). But what about existing multiplicity of modes in Oriental music?

There were two different strategies by which Renan answered similar objections concerning Oriental multiplicity. The first strategy targeted the so-called Arabic renaissance of the eighth to the twelfth century ce. If we look beneath the surface, claimed Renan, we will see that what appeared to be the Arabic renaissance—musical theory and modes included—was actually a “Greco-Sassanid” (that is, fully Aryan) achievement (Ernest Renan, “L’islamisme et la science” [1883]; cited in Pagden 2008, 208). In the same vein, Bourgault-Ducoudray answered the objection that there are, after all, many Oriental chromatic modes, with the argument that the Orientals who concerned him (he refers to the Turks and Arabs) took polymodality from the Greeks. The second strategy concerned the number of divinities. Semitic polytheism, Renan argued, was not like the Aryan one. Genuine (Aryan) polytheism was an answer to the “riddles of nature” (Arvidsson 1999, 337), while the Semitic one was the outcome of splitting, whereby different traits of the one true God became separate gods. Real polytheism could not possibly arise among Semitic tribes, because, he claimed, they lack the capacity to idealize and to conceptualize multiplicity. Mutatis mutandis, an Aryanist such as Bourgault-Ducoudray dismissed the Oriental multiplicity of modes as less genuine than the multiplicity of its Greek (Aryan) counterpart.

Bourgault-Ducoudray made a clear differentiation between Greek folk song and church music, based mainly on racial criteria. The interest in Greek Orthodox Church music in his era was provoked by the curiosity of the musicien-archéologue who was looking for vestiges of ancient music (as in the previously cited Aion interview), having no illusions about the impure character of this music. Due to the cosmopolitan, international, institutional character of Christianity, many “Semitic elements (Jewish and other),” he surmised, must have found their way into Greek church music. He conceded that vestiges of the ancient diatonic modes could still be found. But, he argued, even if it were feasible to distinguish Greek from Semitic elements, what the Modern Greeks absolutely must do was to find a way out of the miserable condition of the Greek Orthodox Church music (due to coarse-voiced performers), though in a way that was respectful both to tradition and, at the same time, to their [End Page 57] instincts modernes. Folk song, on the other hand, proceeded directly from the génie hellénique (1876b, 9).

An important key to understanding Bourgault-Ducoudray’s collector/harmonizer ideology might be sought out in the work of Émile-Louis Burnouf, the French scholar with whom Bourgault-Ducoudray came into a close relationship during his Athenian sojourn. Burnouf was his host at the École Française and interlocutor in Athens, as well as the dedicatee of the Trente mélodies. Burnouf came from a family of philologists. (His cousin, Eugène Burnouf [1801–1852], a specialist of Indian and Persian studies, was one of the most renowned Orientalists of his day). In 1876, Émile-Louis, himself an Indic scholar, published his Science des religions, where he developed an elaborate argument to ground the claim that Jesus was in fact Aryan. In this monograph on the Vedas (Burnouf 1863), a copy of which Burnouf gave to Bourgault-Ducoudray, he referred to the Vedas as the most ancient document “de notre race” (of our race; 1863, 16), eliding the distinction between the Aryans and “us.” In the concluding pages of his book on the Vedas, Burnouf called his vision by the name of “scientific pantheism” (1863, 469) and specified the Aryan connections that he was drawing between India and Europe. His argument was as follows. Aryans have a natural tendency to polytheism or pantheism; in Aryans other than Hindus, this tendency is “more or less stopped” (arrêté), due to external influences. Europeans, on the other hand, whose pantheism has been stopped (presumably by Christianity), have developed science; ergo, the ultimate Aryan goal should be “scientific pantheism”: “This is probably the task of Christianity for the future generations of a reunited Indo-European race” (Burnouf 1863, 469).

It may be rather hard for us to realize that the scholarly interest of Burnouf’s in Indian literature (or Bourgault-Ducoudray’s interest in Greek folk songs, for that matter) went beyond mere ethnological description of an objective reality to a whole Weltanschauung related to a utopian future. Yet it is in this framework that Bourgault-Ducoudray’s argument in the “Introduction” to the Breton collection (1885) should be placed:

If the ancient [Greek] modes belonged exclusively to the Greeks, to try to resuscitate them in our music would be but a scholarly caprice, an archeologist’s pure fancy. On the contrary, if these venerable modes came from a common heritage to all Aryans, I cannot see why we cannot exploit a domain which is part of the patrimony of our race and really belongs to us.

(1885, 16)

The argument might be reconstructed thus: Aryan composers (French and Greek amongst them) have the right to exploit the monophonic heritage of their “race” in order to shape their musical future in a way that benefits both their heritage and the modern composer. In this very framework, harmonization is not seen as anything close to an external intervention or, say, a [End Page 58] violent colonization of the non-European Other (Pasler 2008). It is instead the contribution of Christian Aryan composers to their Aryan heritage with respect to creating the Aryan scientific “panmodalism” of the future, to put it in Burnoufian terms. In this vision, folk song harmonizations (not only of Greek, but generally of so-called Aryan folk songs) played a crucial role for Bourgault-Ducoudray as the first step toward the formation of this panmodalist Aryan music of the future. He was confident that his research activity had provided the musical argument—next to the philological one—for Aryanism (1885, 16). To promote this agenda, he found someone to put his performing skills in the service of his erudition, and this collaborator was Aramis.

A survey of Aramis’s activities in England and France

The 1898 concert reported in full at the beginning of this article was not the first time that the artist working under the name “M. Aramis” presented his recital with the collaboration of Bourgault-Ducoudray (whether the latter was physically present or not). In the same year, he appeared in a concert in St. James’s Hall on 28 June/10 July, attended by many “members of the aristocracy” (Musical Times 1894). On 10/22 July 1895, Aramis participated in a benefit concert for the National Society of French Teachers in England (Musical Times 1895). On 28 November/10 December 1896, according to an extensive report in the Musical Times (1897a), he gave a concert-lecture together with Edgar F. Jacques (a member of the Royal Musical Association praised for his scientific approach to music),16 Mlle. De Saint-André (singer), and pianists Signor Carlo Ducci and M. Lambelet (no doubt, the Swiss-Greek composer Napoleon Lambelet [1864–1932], who was based in London since 1895 and was the brother of Georgios Lambelet). The report ends by reaffirming Bourgault-Ducoudray’s mutual benefits argument, as discussed above. Aramis also appeared with Bourgault-Ducoudray in 1896 in Paris under the auspices of M. Nikolaos Deliyannis, the Greek ambassador to France (see Ephemeris 1896). On 11/23 January 1897, he appeared in Manchester (Musical Times 1897b) with “Messrs. [Napoleon] Lambelet and Fogg,” “Miss Saint André,” and Mr. Jacques, and on 15/27 February and 27 February/11 March 1897 in Liverpool (Musical Times 1897c). Aramis also appeared with Bourgault-Ducoudray at the piano in London, together with Mr. Jacques and “Mdlle. Sandrini” (the lead dancer at the Paris Opéra) on 28 October and 5 November 1897. On 12/24 January 1898, Aramis contributed “some Greek songs” in a London series of three lectures given by the exceedingly active Mr. Jacques on Indian music, specifically music from southern India, which, he argued, for “geographical reasons, had been less disturbed by hostile invasions than the North” (Musical Times 1898a). In other words, Southern India was more pur sang (that is, Aryan, as Bourgault-Ducoudray might have put it) than the rest of India. (A similar extensive [End Page 59] discussion is found in Burnouf’s Essai sur le Veda and Bourgault-Ducoudray’s “Introduction” to his Breton collection). In his second lecture (19/31 January 1898), Jacques compared Indian and Greek scale systems. Live music was provided by “Miss Ethel Wood and Mr. Ranalow” (Indian songs), by Aramis (Greek songs), and the violinist Mr. P. Miles. The Indian songs were composed by a certain “Tagarajayya,” who was presented as “the Schubert of Southern India” (Musical Times 1898a). In 1903, Aramis came to Greece to appear before Greek audiences in a number of recitals and one public speech on folk song (as I will discuss below). On a separate occasion, Aramis appeared in 1908 with Maurice Emmanuel during an event on “Musique populaire grecque,” organized by the Ligue Française pour la défense des droits de l’Hellénisme (French League for the Defense of the Rights of Hellenism; Romanou 1996, Vol. 2, ΦΒ624; Kakaroglou 2012, 92–98).

In London and elsewhere, Aramis enjoyed the friendship and support of powerful Greek benefactors, suggesting that his collaboration with Bourgault-Ducoudray, as an illustration of the latter’s mutual benefits argument and Indo-European race theory, had ethnic Greek support before he brought it to Greece. For example, Ioannis Gennadios, the Greek Ambassador to England and a great scholar and the promoter in England of Greek nineteenth-century Indologist Dimitrios Galanos, was also a promoter of Aramis. And an Aramis concert in Monte Carlo took place under the auspices of Nicolaos Deliyannis, the Greek Ambassador to France, as may be seen in a report printed in an Ephemeris on 1 March 1897. The same report explains the significance of the concert activities in terms of Indo-European racial continuity:

This marvelous artist greatly serves the art and history of music by introducing us Westerners to the mysteries of these powerful melodies that keep going through the ages, in the peculiar and, at the same time, advanced harmony of this incomparable people, who are the marvelous forefathers and creators of our civilization. These folk songs are, no doubt about it, the most incontestable and vivid vestiges of the first melodic inspirations of the Indo-European race.

(Ephemeris 1897; emphasis mine)

Although these are the words of the anonymous reporter, there can be no doubt that they echo the words and spirit of Aramis and, ultimately, of Bourgault-Ducoudray himself.

Aramis in Athens

After having built a European career as a singer of Greek folk songs in collaboration with Bourgault-Ducoudray in England and France, Aramis came to Athens in 1903 to present his work to Greek audiences (Noumas 1903a, 1903b; Skrip 1903a, 1903b, 1903c, 1903d). He gave concerts at the Parnassos Hall on 4/16 January 1903,17 as well as at the Greek Royal Theater on 20 January/ [End Page 60] 2 February 1903;18 he appeared as a guest star in an Athens Conservatory student concert in 26 January/8 February 1903; and he gave a final concert “for the populace” on 2/14 February 1903 at the Grand Theater.19 Although Aramis was well received by the public, which at the Royal Theater concert included the royal family with an enthusiastic Queen Olga in the audience,20 composers Georgios Lambelet and Georgios Axiotis condemned both the performance and harmonization practice of Aramis as alien to the Greek feeling of the melodies. These were the same reasons why they also condemned harmonizations by Bourgault-Ducoudray and Samaras (Romanou 1996, Vol. 1, 166).

Aramis gave a lecture on “Our Folk Songs” on 19 February/4 March 1903 at Parnassos Hall (published in five parts in the Athenian newspaper Skrip, whose editor-in-chief at the time was Zacharias Papantoniou: Skrip 1903e, 1903f, 1903g, 1903h, 1903i). In this, he presented his “theory” (Skrip 1903i), as he called it, on folk song. After thanking the public and the press for their hospitable reception, he sketched his musical and scholarly task, anticipating two possible objections to him: that his absence abroad for 18 years may have impeded his ability to remember these songs; and that, for the same reason, the songs that he presented were not authentic but εξευρωπαϊσμένα (Europeanized). Aramis refuted the first objection by emphasizing the degree to which he had been exposed to folk songs during his early years in Greece. As for the second objection, he went on:

Please believe me, I have always passionately loved our beloved folk songs, considering them as the valuable heritage of our country and as my own children, whom I would always protect from every foreign and evil eye, like the devoted father of beautiful and tender creatures, shielding them with deeply-felt care against all barbarous contact and contamination. Therefore, there has never existed danger of any alteration whatsoever.

He continued to say, however, that no one should believe that he had toiled abroad for so many years only to come back and simply sing those songs in front of a Greek audience in their usual form. Should he present them “in a literal and unchanged manner,” he would consider himself no different from any singer with a nice voice living either in a Greek city or in the countryside. Instead, “as a veritable Greek [he] should like to present with affection and patriotic pride the beloved and sweet-voiced children of our people, simply having washed and combed their hair” (Skrip 1903e).21

According to his own words, Aramis’s task was both to safeguard the authenticity of the folk songs while at the same time to present them not as simply authentic. How can one understand this apparently impossible task? Aramis elaborated on his method by enumerating his five stages of work on what he called the “first raw” material of a folk song: (1) finding the “so-called melodic phrase”; (2) applying the art of singing without affecting the initial [End Page 61] inspiration; (3) examining whether the melody could tolerate harmonization according to the “new rules of art,” after having identified “the ancient diatonic scale, from which it descends”; (4) determining if the melody could sustain “nuancing expression and, in general, all the merits of artistic performance, as is the case of the folk songs of other nations”; and (5) assessing whether it “provides enough musical material … to serve as a thematic source for future Greek composers” (Skrip 1903f).

Aramis’s ambitions reached beyond his own work to provide the template for future Greek national compositions. According to him, the future Greek composer, by using the folk melodies that he had processed, would then compose music that could be rightly called Greek national music. He explained:

By “national music” in a broad sense we mean any music that, because it is composed in accordance to the particular aesthetics and constitution of the nation to which it belongs, is pleasing and easily comprehensible, and perfectly corresponds to the national sentiments and the character of the people in question, more so than any other foreign music, and consequently, [this music] is cultivated and developed in its own way only in that country.

To leave no doubt as to what kind of music Aramis was referring to, he then gave examples of national music according to the aforementioned definition: Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven for German music; Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, and Verdi for Italian music; Rubinstein and Tchaikovsky for Russian music; and Grieg for Norwegian music. It is clear that what initially seems as Aramis’s impossible task acquires significance only if one admits two differing meanings for the word “music”: let me call them the marked and the unmarked meanings.22 Aramis used the unmarked term, often in the composite “national music,” to refer to art music composed by individual composers—note that of all the composers named only Grieg would qualify according to the conventional definition of a national school of music composer. The marked term, always in the composite “Folk Music,” was used to refer to the “simple music of [the composer’s] country” (Skrip 1903d). According to Aramis, then, the intervention of an individual composer allows for the marked composite term “Folk Music” to be transformed into the unmarked composite term “national music.” In other words, the source folk song material is authentic, and so it remains qua part of a national music composition.

Where exactly does harmonization fit in this picture? Harmonization, lying in between the raw-material state of folk music and the end-product of national music, corresponds, in Aramis’s song-as-child metaphor, to a “simple washing and combing” (Skrip 1903e), meant to prepare folk melodies for presentation before a cultivated audience (referred to by Bourgault-Ducoudray as the classes dédaigneuses” [quoted in Kourbana 2010, 5]); in this sense, a [End Page 62] harmonized folk song is made to be the first step toward the creation of national music. Aramis describes the task in a letter dated 21 January 1903 to Georgios Nazos, the Director of the Athens Conservatory, after the concert that he gave in the Athens Conservatory on the previous night. It consists in “the dissemination [διάδοσις] of the national folk muse and, through it, the formation [διάπλασις] of national music” (Athens Conservatory Archive). This understanding of his own task supplied Aramis the harmonizer with a sufficient reason to consider himself a creator.23

Aramis’s folk song theory was clearly indebted to both Bourgault-Ducoudray’s mutual benefits thesis and his modal theory. However, Aramis’s cosmopolitan Aryanist orientation as a collaborator of Bourgault-Ducoudray took a more patriotic turn in his Athenian lecture by omitting explicit references to Aryanism and stressing his own patriotic pedigree (his exposure to folk songs from an early age, for example, and his recruitment in 1879 while a student in Athens in the guerrilla group of the Souliote warlord Zikos Zikou in Epirus; Skrip 1903e). According to Aramis, the study of folk music is of paramount importance due to “ethnological reasons”; moreover, “it reveals the character of various races (φυλών), as well as the degree of parentage and similarity between them” (Skrip 1903h). This is as close to an Aryanist statement as he got in the lecture. In general, however, the emphasis in the lecture fell clearly on his being an authentic, patriotic Greek, that is to say, a person dedicated to the dissemination of authentic Greek folk music and the formation of a Greek national music through his performance of it in “washed and combed,” harmonized renditions for elite audiences.

Another indirect allusion to Aryanism is made when Aramis’s lecture refers to his formal education. After having studied “singing and theory” at the Naples and Milan conservatories, Aramis recalled the following experience:

I got greatly interested in the special study of the folk music of various peoples, especially that of Scots, Irish, Czechs, Swedes, Hungarian Vlachs, and Slavs. My conclusion was that not only does our folk music fare well when compared to those foreign ones, but, indeed, if cultivated and developed appropriately, it could greatly supersede them.

Aramis’s words were carefully chosen, for they establish the ethno-linguistic grouping within which he believed Greek music belonged. In the first sentence, he indirectly revealed his indebtedness to Bourgault-Ducoudray’s Aryanism, as the “various” peoples whose music he studied were actually the groups commonly identified to be Aryan by Indo-European linguistic standards. (Note that he added “Vlachs” after “Hungarian,” who would otherwise be the only non-Aryan people in the list, as Hungarians themselves were not considered to be Aryans by Aryanists.) The second sentence reconfirms his patriotism regarding his aspiration to the potential ascendancy of Greek folk music, and, [End Page 63] at the same time, asserts his role as the pioneer on the road leading from the folk music to the national music level.

In 1904, a year after Aramis’s Athenian sojourn, Konstantinos Skokos dedicated to him a laudatory article in his annual almanac (Skokos 1904, 208–211). In it, Skokos described Aramis as the “missionary of a national ideal,” whose first and foremost objective was to “initiate us Greeks into this beautiful religion of his” (1904, 211). Skokos concluded that by appearing in the “centers of diaspora Greeks [Aramis] [was] help[ing] to boost national prestige more than all the consuls and decrees and bureaucracy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs taken together” (1904, 211).

After 1903 Aramis did not appear again in Greece; he died in Paris in 1932.24 Yet his and Bourgault-Ducoudray’s ideas on a Greek national music project were partly vindicated by Spyros Samaras (1861–1917), an internationally acclaimed composer of Corfiot origins and friend of both Bourgault-Ducoudray and Aramis in Paris, where he was often in the company of the latter. Samaras collaborated with Aramis on many occasions, harmonizing a number of folk songs that Aramis had collected. After a successful international career as an operatic composer in the modern Italian verismo style, he laid his vision of what national Greek music should sound like in his opera Rhea, as I will now show.

Aramis/Bourgault-Ducoudray and Rhea by Spyros Samaras

In the first decade of the twentieth century, Samaras was a renowned composer of the verismo Italian operatic school, living in Paris and Milan. Today, his international fame is due mainly to the Olympic Hymn—composed for the 1896 Olympic Games and canonized as the official Olympic Games anthem in 1958. His opera Rhea, which premiered in Florence in 1908, was staged three years later in Athens. The opera plot takes place in fourteenth-century Chios. Parallel to the love story between Rhea and Lysias, the libretto tells of an imaginary Genoan-Venetian-Greek alliance formed to fight the Saracens. The noble Europeans versus barbarous Saracens aspect is emphasized by explicit reference to the Aryan root of Lysias, who defeats a Saracen at the beginning of the opera in a sport contest—an allusion to the Olympic Games, enhanced through the accompanying music of the 1896 Olympic Hymn.

Samaras’s music uses a number of folk song or folk song-like references in a veristic frame of mind, that is, to enhance the realism of the Chios setting. The third act is musically dominated by the full-orchestral rendering of Καράβιν ένα από τη Χιό (A ship from Chios), a folk melody included in Bourgault-Ducoudray’s Greek collection (No. 25 in Bourgault-Ducoudray 1876, 95–98). In Rhea, the Greek folk song reference is alongside the European musical vernacular of the time: modern Italian vocal style and lush orchestral [End Page 64] writing, with reminiscences of Strauss and the French contemporary masters (Debussy, Ravel, Fauré). In skillfully combining Greek folk music references and up-to-date musical writing, Samaras’s Rhea seems to vindicate Bourgault-Ducoudray’s and Aramis’s vision of what a national Greek learned music should sound like.

In his compositional career, however, Samaras was not able to uphold the high national music aesthetic ideals exhibited in Rhea. In 1911, he returned permanently to Greece, a fatal decision as far as his international career was concerned. Plans for his anticipated appointment as director of the Athens Conservatory failed, and he had to support himself by turning to the composition of operettas, the most popular genre at the time (Πόλεμος εν πολέμω [War in war], 1914; Η Πριγκήπισσα της Σασσώνος [The Princess of Sazan], 1915; Η Κρητικοπούλα [The Cretan maid], 1916). National elements, such as references to folk music, can be still found in his operettas; however, the cosmopolitan frame of mind of Rhea gave way to the patriotic populism of the ephemeral operetta plots: love stories set against the contemporary background of the Balkan Wars (War in war) or the union of Crete with Greece (The Cretan maid). In the cultural battle over the national music ideal, Samaras’s music did not hold its initial edge, and the undisputable winner was Manolis Kalomoiris and his Greek national school, whose influence extended into the 1950s (Samson 2013, 258).

Aramis/Bourgault-Ducoudray and the Kalomoiris national school of music

Kalomoiris was close to the demoticist movement and its weekly literary magazine Noumas, where he published a series of polemical articles between 1908 and 1910 against the once dominant Ionian school, of which Samaras was a representative (Romanou 1996, Vol. 1, 215–219). Ideologically Kalomoiris was a moderate liberal and a lifelong admirer of Eleutherios Venizelos and his modernization project. (In a famous turn of phrase in his memoirs, Kalomoiris named Venizelos and Kostis Palamas as “the two guiding lights of his spiritual life”; Kalomoiris 1988, 138.) He began his national school of music project as a follower of, and aspiring musical equivalent to, the linguistic project of Jean Psichari. In fact, Kalomoiris’s two most defining formative experiences, those responsible for his later nationalistic commitment, were reading Psichari’s literary manifesto, Το ταξίδι μου (My journey), and attending an Aramis concert in 1899, the year of his graduation from the Gymnasium in Constantinople (Kalomoiris 1988, 42–43).

Five years after Aramis’s 1903 Athenian presentations, Kalomoiris made an impressive entrance as head of the national music movement with a concert and accompanying manifesto.25 In the following excerpt from a text on the use of folk song, after his own version of the mutual benefits thesis, he gives vent to his contempt for the practice of folk song harmonizations: [End Page 65]

The major and minor modes, almost outdated through their exclusive use in the works of classical and romantic composers, have been enriched through the various rich modes of Slavic, Scandinavian, and, recently, of Spanish [folk] songs. … Unfortunately, some think that the mere use of a folk song as it stands, together with elementary harmonic clichés, suffices for it to be considered a musical creation per se.

His vision considered neither harmonization practice to be a first step toward the creation of national music (as construed by Aramis) nor the use of folk songs to be a kind of objets trouvés in a verismo framework (as proposed by Samaras in Rhea). Instead, Kalomoiris’s ideal as an art composer was to implement folk song material in his musical language in such a way that the two elements, folk song and art music, would become indistinguishable.

Mutual benefits for him also meant mutual compromises: folk music had to sacrifice its non-tempered intervals, while art music had to bend basic harmonic rules. Although he finally harmonized an albeit small number of folk songs, these were neither simple harmonizations nor part of a collection informed by a (pseudo-) scientific motivation, nor were they considered as a first step toward the creation of a Greek national music (as Aramis considered his musical performances). Rather, they either served educational purposes (showing how to make choral arrangements), or they entered the repertoire of Greek national music,26 as music of lesser importance than his operas, symphonies, and sonatas. At once targeting Bourgault-Ducoudray and Aramis and anticipating the work of Zacharias and Remantas and Lambelet, Kalomoiris scorned simple harmonizations, especially when he thought they were posing as national music.

If Kalomoiris’s vision ultimately concerned the creation of a Greek national music that could withstand comparison to the music of what he called the “musically advanced nations,”27 others such as Prokopios Zacharias and Adamantios Remantas saw musical nationalism’s major challenge as presenting evidence for Greek continuity.

Aramis/Bourgault-Ducoudray and the Arion Collection

In 1917, Adamantios Remantas and Prokopios Zacharias published Arion, a collection of harmonized melodies. In their choice of 66 pieces, the authors performed a notion of the ethnic continuity of Hellenism indebted to the tripartite scheme of Paparregopoulos. The collection begins with the pseudo-Pindaric A’ Pythian Ode28 and, after nine ancient Greek and six Byzantine melodies, concludes with 51 folk songs. The Arion project is transfixed by the anxiety of proving Greek ethnic continuity—an anxiety different from the one attested in Kalomoiris and his spokesman, music critic Theodoros Synadinos, namely, the need for Greek music to catch up with the “musically advanced [End Page 66] nations” (from Kalomoiris’s 1908 manifesto, cited in Frangou-Psychopaidi 1990, 128) and make up for lost time, after having been subjugated for centuries to “the most retarded and uncivilized nation in the world” (Synadinos 1932, 11). In a sense, Zacharias and Remantas’s vision was Kalomoiris’s nightmare: if folk song harmonizations sufficed to ensure musical Greekness, then what was the value of new, more elaborate compositions? Surely, Kalomoiri’s aim of catching up with the “musically advanced nations” was seriously compromised in the Arion project.

The part of the “Prologue” bearing the subtitle “Our National Muse” paid due respect to the precedent of Bourgault-Ducoudray. However, Remantas and Zacharias hastened to add that “[Bourgault-Ducoudray] did not manage to find the right way of writing or the polyphonic accompaniment appropriate to each ancient mode” (Zacharias and Remantas 1917, xxv). The two authors proposed a complex method for what they considered to be the correct harmonization of folk songs, that is to say, the squaring of non-Western modal folk melodies with Western tonality and chord progressions. In preparation, they claimed the composer had to find the right ambitus, that is to say, the range of pitches of the melodic line for the song in question, with their criterion being the fewest accidentals possible—something like a simplicity principle. In this way, they suggested that the ancient mode would emerge naturally. Then, the ultimate solution to the harmonization problem seemed to come in a triumphant Archimedean “Eureka!” tone: “The rule of polyphonic accompaniment [= harmonization] has been found. The polyphonic accompaniment should contain only tones of the diatonic scale and nothing else” (Zacharias and Remantas 1917, xxv). According to the two authors, if this normative framework were applied, the musical idea of the songs would spontaneously appear. It seems remarkable that not only the relation of folk songs to the ancient modal system but also the need for harmonization are taken for granted by the two authors. They seem to imply that the ancient modes subsist in a dormant condition in the folk songs, only to be brought back to life by the kiss of Western harmonization, as it were.

Conversely, one is bound to fail in the harmonization task in any case—whether one takes into account the chromatic elements (which are duly dubbed «ηδονικά» [hedonistic]; Zacharias and Remantas 1917, xxvi) at the expense of the “main diatonic and harmonic elements,” or if one adapts the style of a folk song “violently to the European major and minor modes” (1917, xxvi). Following this, the two authors ask in rhetorical indignation how is it possible that Western Europeans could ascribe to ancient Greek music the property of being monophonic, that is, “a characteristic of boorish and uncivilized people,” since it is clear that ancient music “could not possibly be based on a different musical conception [than the European harmonic one]” (Zacharias and Remantas 1917, xxvi). [End Page 67]

Certainly the relationship of Greece to the West in Zacharias and Remantas has lost the clarity of Bourgault-Ducoudray’s mutual benefits thesis. On the one hand, according to them, the West is responsible for the decay of the Greek harmonic element; on the other hand, harmonization practice is Western by its very definition. The source of the confusion is the semantic stretching—and ensuing ambiguity—of the term “harmony” to cover both Ancient Greek and Western music. “Harmony” is used by the two authors to refer both to something Greek that is latent in Greek folk songs and should be brought out through harmonization and to something European, which caused the decay of the Greek harmonic element especially when folk songs are adapted “violently to the European major and minor modes.” The blurring of the distinction between the ancient Greek usage of «ἁρμονία» (a technical word applying to monophonic modes) and modern “harmony” (implying polyphony) allows for the false conclusion that the harmonization of a folk song could bring out the hidden harmony lying in a dormant condition, as it were, in the folk melody.

The discourse of Zacharias and Remantas is permeated by radical anti-modernism. At one point, the authors grieve for the sorrowful state of the Modern Greek urban individual, which they explain as having been caused by severance from the Greek tradition. According to them, one can see Greek life—and Greek music—in its purest form in the mountains, in the guise of male dancers who are identified as the immediate heirs to the tradition of the armatoloi and klephtes.29 It is worth noting that at about this time the mountainous landscape functions as a metaphor for Greekness and tradition in many texts—for example, in the emblematic youth novel Ψηλά βουνά (High mountains, 1918) by Zacharias Papantoniou (1877–1941).30 In that novel, a group of boys comes of age through their wandering in Greece’s high mountains, where they encounter paragons of pristine Greekness, including Vlach shepherd boys. In both Arion and Papantoniou’s novel, the antimodernist discourse falls back on a Herderian apprehension of Kunst (high art) versus Volkspoesie, the poetry of the folk, which it transfers to the mountains of Greece and opposes to European music. In the first decades of the twentieth century, Herderian influence in Greek attitudes vis-à-vis folk music coexisted both with traditionalist animosity against modernism, and with the even more authentically Herderian emphasis on the particularity of the national κλίμα (klima, climate) that was an emergent trend.

As far as Greek reception of Herderian ideas is concerned, Theodoros Manousis (1793–1858), the first Professor of History at the University of Athens, was crucial in connecting Herder’s ideas with Greek folk poetry and song (Dimaras 2004, 449). A likely earlier route through which Herderian ideas on folk song may have found their way into Greece was Claude Fauriel’s prologue to his collection of Greek folk songs. (Fauriel was probably introduced to Herder by Mme. de Staël and the Auteuil Circle of the intellectuals who called [End Page 68] themselves “les Ideologues”).31 Herderian ideas on the relationship between race, music, and climate were particularly important to the musical Nationalism of Georgios Lambelet, whose 1901 manifesto on National Music appeared seven years before Kalomoiris’s manifesto of 1908 (Lambelet 1901).

Aramis/Bourgault-Ducoudray and Georgios Lambelet

According to current musicological opinion, Athens-based Corfiote nationalist composer Georgios Lambelet initiated the debate on national music with his 1901 polemical essay, «Η εθνική μουσική» (National music, see Samson 2013, 234). Lambelet’s approach in this and later works was racist in the weak sense of the belief in race as the determinant of distinctive human characteristics and abilities—without involving the Aryan argument. Thus, his discourse could be described as simply patriotic or nationalist, with an emphasis on the Greek environment and nature (for example, see Lambelet 1901, 1928).

After a lifetime dedicated to the national music cause in his capacities as both a composer and a theorist, Lambelet published his set of 60 folk song and dance harmonizations in 1933. Lambelet had been critical of both Bourgault-Ducoudray’s and Aramis’s harmonizations on more than one occasion (Lambelet 1901, as quoted in Frangou-Psichopaidi 1996, 236–237; Lambelet 1928, 25–26; 1933, 7). His argument was similar to that of the Arion writers: for either not being Greek (Bourgault-Ducoudray) or not being Greek enough (Aramis qua a Greek of the diaspora), Bourgault-Ducoudray and Aramis both lacked the required feeling for Greekness that would secure a successful harmonization practice. Lambelet also shared with the authors of Arion a normative approach to harmonization practice. Indeed, he was concerned with showing the correct way of harmonizing Greek folk music. Furthermore, he shared with Arion ideas about the continuity of Ancient Greek music and modes with Modern Greek folk music. Like Aramis, he had a broad conception of national music, one that included not only Grieg but also Wagner. Both folk music and an academically trained composer’s musical language were, for Lambelet, metaphysically conditioned by the composer’s physical and cultural environment. He considered harmonizations as a simple specimen of national music, the principal task of the εναρμονιστής (harmonizer) being to “enhance the expression and the coloring” of the more representative Greek folk songs (Lambelet 1933, 5, 32). In comparison with Kalomoiris, he was musically more conservative, as well as more favorable to harmonizations and to using actual folk songs in art music, whereas Kalomoiris thought that Greeks should be released “from the burden of their distant Hellenic tradition” (Samson 2013, 304) and that folk song material should rather act as a catalyst in the musical language of a composer of σοφή μουσική (his direct translation of musique savante, that is, learned music; see Kalomoiris 1930, 225). [End Page 69]


The publication in 1901 of Georgios Lambelet’s manifesto is considered to mark the emergence of a “self-conscious” Greek nationalism in music (Samson 2013, 234). Lambelet is the obvious answer if it is taken for granted that the question is who is the Greek composer who initiated the discourse on national music. However, due to the contemporary Orientalist and Aryanist frames of mind, the laying of the foundations of a Greek national school of music goes back to the activity of French composer and scholar Louis-Albert Bourgault-Ducoudray. His 1876 collection served the explicit goal of being the first step toward the formation of Greek National Music. As explicitly stated in the introduction to his Breton collection (Bourgault-Ducoudray 1885), Bourgault-Ducoudray was pursuing ethnological studies in order to promote an Aryanist agenda. Although Bourgault-Ducoudray’s Greek collection contained no explicit reference to Aryanism, in hindsight it became part of his Aryanist project. The dedicatee of the Greek collection was Émile-Louis Burnouf, the director of the École Française in Athens, his host during his Athenian sojourn and a famous Orientalist, whose work assumed a racial hierarchy with Aryans at the top as a master race. It is most probable that Burnouf was responsible for Bourgault-Ducoudray’s Aryanist commitment. In the 1890s, he tried to disseminate his ideas on national music through the medium of concerts (actually, polymorphous events combining singing, lecturing, and dancing), especially in England and France, in collaboration with Greek baritone Periklis Aravantinos (alias Aramis), as part of a comprehensive Aryanist ideology. In 1903, Aramis visited Athens and gave a series of concerts and a lecture. While in Athens, despite the detectable indebtedness to Bourgault-Ducoudray’s thought, he avoided overtly Aryanist language; instead, he emphasized his vision of a national Greek music based on folk songs, following the example of, say, Norway (Grieg), Russia (Glazounov), or Germany (Wagner). He never came back to Greece and died in 1932 in Paris after a successful career as a singer and teacher. His and Bourgault-Ducoudray’s national music vision was partly vindicated in Rhea, an opera by their common friend Spyros Samaras. The approach of all three of them to the notion of national music, as well as to the relationship of a learned composer to his country’s folk music, goes back to Bourgault-Ducoudray’s lifelong mutual benefits argument: at the time of Bourgault-Ducoudray’s 1876 collection, folk song harmonization served a clear intention of laying the foundations of a Greek national music, on the basis of an argument for the mutual benefits for both Greek monophonic and European polyphonic music; after 1885, the mutual benefits argument for the creation of national music was reinterpreted in terms of an Aryan composer exercising the rights of his Aryan monophonic legacy. [End Page 70]

At about the same time, other approaches to national music and folk songs emphasized the special characteristics of the Greek race and nature (Lambelet), cultural continuity from Ancient to Modern Greek music (Zacharias and Remantas), or the challenge of catching up with the “musically advanced” European nations (Kalomoiris). It was Kalomoiris and his followers, inspired by Greek folklore and folk song, demotic poetry, as well as by foreign national schools of music and the work of Wagner, who finally came to be identified with the Greek National School of Music, with the so called Kalomoiris era extending up to the 1950s.

Panos Vlagopoulos
Ionian University At Corfu


Many thanks to Theodossis Nikolaidis, Polina Tambakaki, Harris Xanthoudakis, Katy Romanou, Christophe Corbier, and Jim Samson, as well as my editors at JMGS for long and insightful discussions; to Stefanie Merakos and the staff of the Music Library of Greece Lilian Voudouri (at the Athens Megaron) for their always helpful and friendly advice; to Stella Kourbana for access to the Athens Conservatory Archive; to Kenneth Owen Smith and Vassilis Kalis of the Cyprus Music Institute, who invited me as a keynote speaker at the First CMI Mediterranean Conference in 2009, where this project began. This paper is dedicated to the memory of Katerina Kakouri, a Bourgault-Ducoudray scholar and my esteemed colleague during the early years of the Megaron Music Library.


1. “Frame” is here understood in the sense of Erving Goffman (1972). “A frame is the answer to the question ‘What is it that’s going there?’” (Brownell 2008, 7).

2. Recent, excellent studies (for example, Matthiopoulos 2005 and Pasler 2008) deal either with Aryanism or with theosophy and the occult in fin-de-siècle Europe. An exception remains Mosse’s pioneering study (Mosse 1978), where the distinction between the pseudo-scientific and the “mystical” race notion is made. A possible reason for the often seen combination of Aryanism and theosophy in many members of the social, intellectual, and artistic elite could be that both were elitist attitudes of exclusion, distinguishing the uneducated mass from the refined few, the Aryan sages who guarded the keys for unlocking the mysteries of original divine consciousness. Richard Wagner was both a member and the cultural icon par excellence of this elite.

3. All translations from French and Greek are my own unless otherwise indicated.

4. See also Fallmerayer 1836, ix: “Der Nimbus des Perikleismus, des Praxitelismus und Platonismus, welchen schwärmerische Freundschaft den Moraiten und Roumelioten geliehen hatte, zerfließt unter unsern Augen in das Nichts, und die innere Zerrissenheit des Volkes, die beiden grossen Fractionen der Slawen und Arnauten mit gänzlicher Erstorbenheit des althellenischen Nationalwesens, treten mit jedem Tage deutlicher hervor.”

5. Paparregopoulos refuted Müller’s argument on the migration of the Dorians from the north in an 1855 speech in which he did not deny the mixing of peoples in Greece through successive migrations but emphasized the assimilatory power of Hellenism (Paparregopoulos 1858).] He enriched his refutation by a musical argument involving the Dorian mode in the Histoire de la civilisation hellénique (1878), a French summary of his Ιστορία του Ελληνικού Έθνους; see Corbier 2015. [End Page 71]

6. Nazi icon H.C. Chamberlain was Richard Wagner’s son-in-law, as well as a most prolific writer and propagator of the Aryanist cause; see Lobenstein-Reichmann 2008.

7. For the important Ρωμιός-Έλληνας distinction and its role in contemporary discussions, see Leontis 1995, especially Chapter 6.

8. Psichari had also come to “Greece and the Orient” in 1886 on a mission by the French Ministry of Education to study the Greek linguistic landscape; see Psichari 1996, 16.

9. According to Clevenger 2001, 302, Debussy must have evaded the (otherwise mandatory) Bourgault-Ducoudray music history classes.

10. On Bourgault-Ducoudray’s activities during his Greek mission, see Kokkonis 2011.

11. Most probably, the anonymous interviewer must have been the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Timoleon Philemon (1833–1898), who took over Aion in 1857 and stayed in office until 1887. The newspaper was founded by his father, Ioannis Philemon, historian and secretary of Dimitrios Ypsilantis. Timoleon was a high standing free-mason and the translator into Greek of Fustel de Coulanges’s La cité antique.

12. Kourbana 2010 originally published the letter in French with a Greek translation.

13. Bourgault-Ducoudray’s works include an overture titled Le carneval d’Athènes (1881) and a Rhapsodie Cambodgienne (1882). In 1883, he was commissioned to compose the Trois hymnes (“Appel aux Énergies humaines,” “Le Chant des Moires,” and “Apothéose de Héros”) for the inauguration festivities in the Zappeion School of Girls in Constantinople; see the report of the event in Le Menestrel (1886), as well as the one on its publication (Laloy 1901).

14. Maurice Emmanuel used a similar argument—with the same mining metaphor—in the inaugural lesson that he delivered on 9 December 1909 upon taking over from Bourgault-Ducoudray the music history class at the Conservatoire, in the latter’s presence: “I remain confident, my dear Master, that the river still carries flakes of gold, and I exhort you, my dear Friends, to collect them.” In doing this, his pupils can at the same time be modern, “even avant-garde” (Emmanuel 1910, 29–30; my emphasis). Bourgault-Ducoudray’s legacy is evident in such phrases as the following: “Le Corps de l’Harmonie parait être une des plus solides traditions de la race aryenne” (Emmanuel 1919, 184; see Vlagopoulos 2008).

15. Reference to “the oriental scale” in the singular makes this term closer to a definite description than to an artifactual/musical kind. In other words, the use of the singular presents an existential (versus referential) claim, emphasizing the abstract quality of being a chromatic scale, of which the chromatic modes of Oriental music are but concrete instantiations.

16. Jacques was the program annotator of the Proms, as well as a well-known publicist and lecturer on music. As a musicologist, he tried to apply Spencerian ideas on laws of cultural evolution and progress to music history (Jacques 1888–1889).

17. The program included folk song harmonizations, songs by Émile Paladilhe (“Premier miracle de Jésus”) and Franceso Paolo Tosti (“Ave Maria”), as well as one by Aramis himself (“Éperdument”), together with pieces for the solo piano and for the violin and piano. Aramis appeared in this concert together with Laura Ebling-Lafont (violin), Hermann Lafont (piano), and Laurentios Kamilieris (piano), all professors at the Athens Conservatory. On 28 November 1903, Hermann Lafont played for Isadora Duncan during the first Athenian sojourn of the “Clan Duncan” in 1903 and 1904). Later, the Lafonts decided to follow Duncan when she decided to leave Greece (Skrip 1903d). Hermann Lafont became subsequently her permanent pianist.

18. Aramis appeared with the Athens Conservatory Choir (directed by Lavrentios Kamilieris) and Orchestra (directed by Georg Knauer). The program included folk songs featuring Aramis with the Choir, as well as Grieg’s Peer Gynt and a Marche Slave by Tchaikovsky (most probably, the well-known op. 31).

19. After his Royal Theater concert, the mayor of Athens (Spyros Merkouris, Melina Merkouri’s grandfather) asked Aramis to appear before the poorer classes for a reduced-price ticket (“since ticket-prices have been anything but ‘folk’ so far”; Skrip 1903b). [End Page 72]

20. King George I and Queen Olga had subsidized two years earlier leading demoticist Alexandros Pallis’s Modern Greek translation of the New Testament and had enthusiastically applauded Psichari’s famous lecture on the Kiss in 1893 (Psichari 1996).

21. In the 1894, the two Athenian paians were unearthed during French excavations at Delphi. The Limenios paian, under the title Hymn to Apollo, was transcribed in modern notation by Théodore Reinach and was presented a number of times during the 1890s in the harmonization of Gabriel Fauré, In his memoires, Baron Pierre de Coubertin claimed that “the performance of the hymn at the first International Olympic Congress in June 1895 created an “antique eurythmie,” which inspired the international cooperation required for the ultimate success of the Olympic movement” (Solomon 2010, 497). Fauré’s harmonization consists in colla parte in the upper right-hand piano voice, accompanied by the simplest diatonic three-voice chords possible. The meaning of the task assigned to Fauré by Reinach was to make the Hymn suitable for public presentation. Fauré responded accordingly to this task. Fauré did nothing more than “washing and combing the hair” of the hymn, as Aramis might have put it.

22. The “marked/unmarked” distinction belongs to Roman Jakobson; see “The Concept of Mark” in Jakobson 1990, 134–140.

23. As Romanou rightly points out in connection with the vehement polemic against Aramis by Georgios Axiotis: “The attribution to Aramis [by dithyrambic critics] of the role of the first creator of Modern-Greek [national] music infuriated, more than anything else, Axiotis” (Romanou 1996, Vol. 1, 169).

24. Two years later, in a concert given for the international academic audience of the first International Archaeological Congress (Athens, 25–31 March 1905), “Aramis songs” were chosen to be presented by the Athens Conservatory choir and orchestra under Laurentios Camilieris, together with Georgios Mistriotis’s production of the Sophoclean Antigone in the original, two “ancient hymns” (?), and dramatic performances (Renan’s Prière sur l’Acropole) by Comédie Française members (Neon Asty 1905). In 1921, Aramis wrote an angry letter to the editor-in-chief of Μουσική Επιθεώρησις, claiming authorship for a harmonized folk song published in this journal (Romanou 1996, Vol. 1, 169).

25. On the cultural politics surrounding the formation of Kalomoiris’s national school of music and the 1908 concert and manifesto, see: Frangou-Psychopaidi 1990; Samson 2013, 256–257. On Kalomoiris’s relationship to folk music and the practice of harmonizations, see Maliaras 2001.

26. For example, the orchestral Twenty Folk Songs (1922), of which only ten were published. He never fulfilled his promise to the publisher for the other ten (Tsalahouris 2003, 45).

27. This phrase is from his 1908 manifesto, as cited in Frangou-Psychopaidi 1990, 128.

28. Its source is Musurgia universalis (1650) by Athanasius Kircher. Scholars quarreled for centuries on the question of its authenticity, but today it is unanimously accepted as being a forgery. Arion gives as its sources von Kralik 1900 and Riemann 1904. Note that the use of a mixed meter (7/8), which the Arion authors suggest as a correction of their German sources, is already found in Forkel 1788.

29. “According to Socrates, the best dancers are also the best warriors; this is still valid for our mountain communities” (Zacharias and Remantas 1917, xxvi). Bourgault-Ducoudray believed that the racially purest musical samples are to be found in the mountains; see also his 1884 article on “La musique primitive conservée par les montagnes,” cited in Pasler 2008, passim.

30. This twentieth-century Greek literature classic was originally published as a textbook for the third grade in elementary school, in the framework of the 1917 Venizelos educational reform. The book was dedicated by the author to the “sacred memory” of his father, an elementary school teacher.

31. For the relationship of art versus folk (or “natural”) poetry, see Fauriel 1824, cxxvii; for the impact of climate on the character of Greek people and poetry, see Fauriel 1824, xx, xliii, lxvii, especially, cxxviii. For the Greek reception of Herderian philosophy of history, see Dimaras 2004. [End Page 73]


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