“Greek Democracy in Crisis or Stasis”

“The decade of the Greek 2010s may be understood in two very different ways, both of them based on Leftist views of the explosive December of 2008: Either in terms of a biopolitical crisis whose victims need the government΄s pastoral care or in terms of stasis whose actors contest self-rule agonistically.  I will argue that stasis, understood as internal contestation of power, provides an alternative model of institution to the dominant model of crisis according to which Greeks continue to be governed.  I will base my discussion on a comparison of the manners in which fiction and poetry have been rendering the crisis and the stasis respectively legible.”


Greek translation

August 14, 2018


Posted in Autonomy, Crisis, Culture, Friends, Greek Literature, Greek Poetry, Left, Melancholy, Revolt, The Common

Recent popular songs referencing classical music

[In this post I am happy and proud to host Erin Mays, a former student of mine and very successful professional in software product management, who has an admirable command of music as a performer, listener, thinker, administrator, even fundraiser.  Given her love for things Greek, I thought I might introduce her reflections with a demo of how to dance … Mozart’s 4oth Symphony.  Below is her post.]

In the years since I took classes with Vassilis at the University of Michigan many (many) years ago, our shared passion for classical music and opera has given us a reason to stay connected, whether it’s disagreeing over Matthew Polenzani’s Werther (he’s a fan, I’m not), comparing notes on the Lyric’s commission of Bel Canto, or geeking out over Joyce DiDonato (as one does). Vassilis has invited me to share my “happy retirement” card to him, inspired by some of the lists he’s posted to this space. It consists of 10 songs in semi-recent popular music that reference classical works (some less obviously than others). While I know the sources need to be there, I think it’s pretty meta to be missing citations in a post about a practice that rarely includes citations. We hope you might help us add to this list by sending in your suggestions of recent songs with classical references.

10. “Lacrymosa” by Evanescence (Requiem by Mozart)

9. “Breathe Me” by Sia (“Metamorphosis One” by Philip Glass)

8. “Little Me” by Little Mix (Pavane by Fauré)

7. “Intergalatic” by the Beastie Boys (they directly sample Night on Bald Mountain by Mussorgsky, with an easter egg of Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C# minor within the song itself)

6. “I Belong to You” by Muse (“Mon cœur s’ouvre à ta voix” from Samson et Dalila by Saint-Saëns)

5. “Alejandro” by Lady Gaga (“Csárdás” by Vittorio Monti)

4. “Love of My Life” by Santana and Dave Matthews (Symphony No. 3, third movement, by Brahms)

3. “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes (Symphony No 5, first movement, by Bruckner)

2. “Exit Music for a Film” by Radiohead (Prelude No. 4 in E minor by Chopin)

1. “Butterflies and Hurricanes” by Muse.  This one might be cheating — I don’t believe Matt Bellamy actually references here, but his cadenza right in the middle of the song is clearly inspired by Rachmaninoff; probably his 2nd Piano Concerto.

There are some terrible examples I chose not to include here… Do not listen to “If I Had Words” by Scott Fitzgerald and Yvonne Keeley if you enjoy Saint-Saëns’ Organ Symphony. It’s (almost) aptly named – I have no words.

Erin Mays

June 1, 2018

Posted in Classical Music, Popular Music

Are there any Greeks in this publication? (3)

A few weeks ago the Times Literary Supplement published a letter about its abysmal coverage of modern Greek literature.  The correspondent complained that they “rarely list Modern Greek poetry and prose.”  I was not surprised that no other letters on this topic followed, since they would have been in vain.

I have been reading the TLS for half a century, and know well its low esteem for new writing in Greek. Furthermore, I have seen this esteem evaporate since Classics Editor Mary Beard and Editor Peter Stothard adopted their infamous anti-Hellenic policy some twenty years ago.  Dame Mary assumes that nothing ever admired as Greek deserves its reputation while Sir Peter has declared that nothing of interest has been coming out of Greece.  (I know, I have invited both of them to lecture on campus.)

There is a problem, of course.  Greeks may be downgraded or ignored but Greece cannot be obliterated. What to do?  Let non-Greeks write about it, as they have been doing anyway since at least the Grand Tour.  A look at recent TLS issues confirms that this editorial policy remains firmly in place.  Thus we find British (Lawrence Durrell, Patrick Leigh Fermor), American (A. E. Stallings), Turkish (Sevan Nisanyan), and other writers and scholars writing about their lives among the Greeks.  This may be called the Mamma Mia! approach to Greece where the natives are silent and part of the decor while the foreign visitors are busy finding their selves and myths.  Why should the TLS listen to today’s Greeks speak by reviewing new Greek-language books if it can empower others to speak on their behalf?

June 30, 2018

Posted in Greek Literature, Greeks, Hellenism, The "Greeks"

Goethe’s Mignon sings to Wilhelm Meister

From Beethoven to Berg and beyond, a great number of major composers has set to music the poem Kennst du das land (Do you know the land) from Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship (Book III, Chapter 1, 1795) where the enigmatic adolescent Mignon tells Wilhelm Meister about her Italian homeland.

These songs vary greatly, despite the limited range of the verses.  Listening to my “other self,” collaborative pianist Dr. Pantelis Polychronidis, listening to them I concentrate on the piano (or other instruments), which is not merely accompanying the voice but is singing with, or commenting on it.

As I travel to Mignon’s land through these renditions, it is the piano that makes me notice their distinct approaches.  Listing 15 of them here (in chronological order) is a way to trace the evolution of the art song over two centuries but also celebrate Pantelis’ name day today.

Reichardt: Lieder Der Liebe Und Der Einsamkeit – Das glückliche Land (“Kennst du das Land?”).  Tania Bussi–Paolo Mora (violino)–Lorenzo Montenz (basso continuo)

Zelter:  “Kennst du das Land”. Bettina Pahn–Tini Mathot

Beethoven: 6 Gesänge op.75 – 1. “Kennst du das Land”.  Adele Stolte–Walter Olbertz

Schubert: “Kennst du das Land”, D321. Gundula Janowitz–Irwin Gage

Spohr: “Mignons Lied”.  Danuta Debski–Krzysztof Debski (guitar)

Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel: “Kennst du das Land”.  Elena Cecchi Fedi

Liszt:  “Kennst du das Land”.  Brigitte Fassbaender—Jean-Yves Thibaudet

Schumann: Lieder und Gesänge aus ‘Wilhelm Meister’, Op.98a – 1. “Kennst du das Land”. Edith Mathis–Christoph Eschenbach

Thomas:  Mignon’s romanza, “Connais-tu le pays?” (sung in German as “Kennst du das Land”), from Mignon.  Elisabeth Grümmer

Duparc: “Romance de Mignon” (“Kennst du das Land”). France Duval–Marc Durand

Gounod:  “Mignon”. Marie Bejjani Daher

Wolf: “Kennst du das Land”. Irmgard Seefried—Erik Werba

Berg:  “Kennst du das Land”.  Jessye Norman–Ann Schein

Adamo:  Bhaer’s aria, “Kennst du das Land?”, from Little Women. Matthew Scollin

Blume: “Kennst Du das Land?” for bass clarinet, violin, cello, and piano

July 26, 2018




Posted in Listening, Literature, Piano | Tagged

“What is trans-national about Greek American culture?”

December 30, 2016
Posted in Greek Literature, Greek Poetry, Greeks, Hellenism | Tagged , ,

“Η ποίηση ως διαρκές γίγνεσθαι”

Το επίμετρό μου σε μια μοναδική έκδοση για την ποιητική όπου οι ίδιοι οι ποιητές διερευνούν από πολλές απόψεις το ποιητικό φαινόμενο σήμερα.  Πρόκειται για το τελευταίο από 3 κείμενα που δημοσίευσα την άνοιξη του 2018 για την ποιητική Γενιά του 2000.

Ευχαριστώ τους λαμπρούς συνεργάτες του περιοδικού [φρμκ] που με κάλεσαν να επιλογίσω την πλουσιότατη συζήτησή τους.

June 1, 2018

Posted in Culture, Greek Poetry, Literature

“Η ελληνική ποιητική γενιά του 2000”: Mιά συνέντευξή μου στη ‘Βαβυλωνία’

“Αντί η ποιητική γενιά του 2000 να πενθήσει τη χαμένη επανάσταση, προτίμησε να μείνει πιστή στο αριστερό πρόταγμα της αυτονομίας και στην ιστορική ρήξη της εξέγερσης.  Έτσι καλλιέργησε μια ριζοσπαστικοποίηση του στίχου προς αναρχίζουσες κατευθύνσεις.  Οι καινούργιοι ποιητές απορρίπτουν την μεσσιανική ουτοπία της επανάστασης και στοχάζονται το εκρηκτικό συμβάν της εξέγερσης που συναθροίζει πολίτες και τους συσπειρώνει στο κοινό.”                κάνετε κλικ εδώ για τη συνέντευξη στη ‘Βαβυλωνία’

Τρία παλαιότερα ελληνόγλωσσα γραφτά μου επίσης για την ποιητική γενιά του 2000:




Ευχαριστώ θερμά τον συγγραφέα και εκδότη κ. Θάνο Γώγο που πήρε τη συνέντευξη και το εξαιρετικό περιοδικό Βαβυλωνία που τη φιλοξένησε.

May 15, 2017

Posted in Collaboration, Crisis, Culture, Greek Poetry, Left, Melancholy, The Common | Tagged