Ichos Magazine, September, 1975
I met Vangelis Papathanasiou in London where he has settled recently, with the eventual purpose to record a new album. He intends to remain in the capital for a while, because it offers him plenty of artistic activities.
Vangelis compositions are original and spontaneous variations - usualy performed by himself while afterwards recorded using various channels, and only during the mixing stage being harmonized into real pieces of music - condensed with classical elements but also byzantine sounds. Presently Vangelis is a personality on the musical horizon of France, being considered as a composer of upper taste society. When he presented his own concert, a long time ago at the Olympia of Paris, well-known French newspapers like Figaro and Le Monde wrote about the Greek composer. They called him nothing less than a prophet of music, emphasizing that France must feel pride to have a composer like Vangelis Papathanasiou in her own musical area. So it might be considered quite justifiable for the London public to be impatient for when he will personally present his creations. In his comfortable apartment somewhere behind the Albert Hall, I met Vangelis and we had an interesting conversation.
What is your opinion on Greek music?
Greek music suffered and suffers still from an obsession with anything foreign. It replicates foreign paradigms, without caring at all if they are able to be grafted and come to fruition in our country. While the opposite actually happens. When they get passed fashion, they are dismissed like foreign bodies. Since the time of Attic [popular lyric writer - composer in Greece during 1920's -30s], this replication has been a bad demon for greek music, where instead turning over and drawing from the tradition and seeming clearly like a Greek continuation, it loans insistently from foreigners. Without taking into account that this someday must pay iniquitous rates of interest. Something bad in this occasion is that while there are considerable musicians and composers in Greece, by any oppression that results in insecurity and lack of self-confidence, they stop at foreign paradigms, without going further and believing in their own creation.
What is your opinion on political songs?
I don't believe that any political songs exist. What I believe is that what's being promoted as political songs is nothing more than a way of projection and self-advertisement by their creators. I also don't believe that any song taking a stand against the establishment is political.
What is your opinion on Greek composers?
In many places of the world, they talk a lot about Mikis Theodorakis, of course not unfairly. As a composer has tremendous qualifications, but personally I don't like parts of his own work and specifically that which contains political elements. Though I am expecting from him, because he's got unlimited abilities giving something else. That is a more classical work. You talk about Canto Heneral me: I haven't heard it yet. I asked for it and they will send it to me from Paris, and if it's a good work then I will erase my doubts that I have about certain works of Theodorakis. And until then I will insist on giving my preference to Manos Hatzidakis, whose musical sensibility moves me. I like also Stavros Xarhakos, whom I think is gifted with many musical qualifications.
I am asking Vangelis about Greek singers, but I can't complete my question....
A Byzantine singer like Grigoris Bithikotsis never made Greece or will ever make it. All the others, regardless of any reputation that follows them still they are in the stage of attempt, and it's doubtful whether one of them could reach Bithikotsis' height. About Maria Farantouri, I don't have any reservations. She's got a very nice vocal. But I don't like the genre of songs she interprets.
Finally why didn't you play with Yes, the famous English group who asked you
to join them after the departure of keyboardist Rick Wakeman?
I rejected this proposal to collaborate. I don't want to, I don't like commitments. I want to preserve my professional freedom.
Translated by Jani (email@example.com)
Edited by Dennis Lodewijks