- Briefs / Feuilletons
The Archive of Nikos Skalkottas (1904–1949) at the Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri. “A Mozart of our time”, “The voice of a Mediterranean Bartók”, “A volcanic genius” are just some of the qualities attributed to Nikos Skalkottas, on an international level, regarding his compositions, but only after his death. His undeniable value as a composer was restored thanks to the initiative of his friends and admirers who founded the “Society of Friends Skalkottas” with the goal to preserve and disseminate his work. Today, Nikos Skalkottas is considered one of the most important composers of the twentieth century. The Austro-British musicologist and critic Hans Keller stresses this fact and lists Skalkottas as one of the top composers of the twentieth century, as one of the four “S”s: Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Skalkottas, and Shostakovich.
Nikos Skalkottas was born in Chalkis on 8 March 1904. He started playing the violin at the age of five, and in 1910, he moved with his family to Athens in search of opportunities for a complete music education. He enrolled at the Athens Conservatory, and in 1918 graduated with the highest distinction for his performance of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. A few years later, in 1921, he received a scholarship from the Averoff Foundation for higher-level violin studies and departed for Berlin where he remained for more than ten years. In Germany, he was introduced to new trends and showed high interest in composition, which he studied with teachers such as Kurt Weill, Philipp Jarnach, and Arnold Schoenberg. During his time in Berlin, he wrote more than seventy works, most of which are lost. He returned to Greece in 1933, where he faced suspicion and repudiation from the local music community. Because of his undiscovered talents and that he had to make ends meet, he developed a career as a violinist in the Athens State Orchestra. At that time, during his second creative period (1933–1945), he composed over one hundred masterpieces in his own personal style. During his third creative period (1946–1949) and until his early death, he composed some of his most important works.
In May 2018, following an agreement between the Friends of Music Society and the Foundation of Emilios Chourmouzios – Marika Papaioannou, the complete archive of the famous Greek composer was given to the Music Library “Lilian Voudouri” by the Friends of Music Society, so that the specialised staff of the Library could document and curate the material, making it available to scholars and researchers for study. The archive is now housed at the Music Library of Greece and a new period launched in the effort to promote the work of Nikos Skalkottas. The archive consists of autograph works in various versions as well as writings, correspondence, printed editions, recordings, photographs, programs, etc. This material will be catalogued and placed in special archival boxes for proper storage and preservation. The scores, as well as many recordings of the works, have been digitised and will be available to researchers soon. In the context of the activities to promote the work of Nikos Skalkottas and the optimal promotion of his unique archive, a part of Greek cultural heritage, the Friends of Music Society is planning a series of events such as editions, exhibitions, conferences, concerts, and educational programs.
The Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” (http://www.mmb.org.gr) is a private institution funded by the Friends of Music Society. It opened to the public in 1979 with the aim to gather material that will support music and musicological research at the academic level in as many fields related to music as possible. The Greek Music Archive is one of the most important components of the Library and serves as a specialised institution that collects, [End Page 52] preserves, and documents all kinds of material that relate to Greek musical life. With its threefold focus—archival, research and educational—it has become the center for the rescue, preservation, and study of Greek music by promoting and supporting research and knowledge on the subject and making its resources available to researchers from...