Repertories and identities of a musician from Crete (Magrini)

Musical Identities of Kostas Papadakis:

1. Crete: Learning violin and its repertory

map thumbnail Papadakis was born in 1920 at Kastelli, a village in the gulf of Kisamos, in the westernmost region of Crete.
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A Turkish song sung in Greek, performed in Crete in 1979
Crete had been annexed to Greece just eight years earlier, in 1912, after 229 years of Turkish occupation. Under Turkish rule many rebellions took place, the last ones in 1866 and 1897, which give evidence of the resistence against Turks. The resistence is associated by the people of Crete to the repertory of rizitika songs, which originated in the western mountainous area of the island. Thanks to mass media in the twentieth century, this repertory became a strong symbol of identity for all people of Crete, but it should be remembered that Cretan music in the twentieth century also includes Turkish dances and songs, and repertories which merge Greek and Turkish elements developed during and after the Turkish occupation, such as the tabachaniotika.
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Mandinades couplets on syrtss dance music
Also, 465 years of Venetian occupation which preceded the Turkish occupation left elements in the musical culture of Crete such as mandinades (improvised couplets of fifteen-syllable lines whose name comes from the Italian mattinate), and the violin.
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Papadakis plays the pentozalis, a traditional Cretan dance
Papadakis belongs to a family of violin players who were semiprofessionals, as is often the case with Mediterranean instrumentists. At an early age, Kostas Papadakis learnt from his father, Vassilis Papadakis, a wide repertory of dances from Crete (see Kaloyanides 1975, Magrini 1981), Turkey, and from other Greek regions like Epirus and the Dodecanese (see Loutzaki 1992 for an overview of Greek dances).
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Traditional wedding in Crete
He began playing violin as a semiprofessional early, in taverns and later at weddings and was well paid , evidence of the value Cretans give to musicians (see interview). Papadakis played in all traditionally important occasions of the musical life in Crete. These occasions include paneghiroi (saints' feasts) and feasts connected to the life cycle: baptisms, name days, engagements, and especially weddings, a very demanding task for musicians, who had to play for several consecutive days and nights.
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Group of musicians from Crete, 1994
The musicians who performed dance music on these occasions were well-integrated in Cretan society, enjoying good reward and status: Grigoris Mathiudakis (in photo at left), a violin player and excellent singer of rizitika and mandinades, was the mayor of Polyrinia village. Musicians generally had a second job, a common practise in Mediterranean countries.

Papadakis might have shared this type of existence, but his life underwent a crucial change in 1933. As do other Mediterranean peoples, Cretans practise vendetta. A vendetta may begin over many different reasons: bride abduction; dishonouring a woman; disagreement among families about the boundaries of adjoining farms; sheep-stealing. Sheep-raising was a widespread activity in traditional Cretan society and sheep-stealing was a sort of initiation rite for young men, who showed in this way their valour, an aspect of what Cretans name egoismós, a word that includes also the meaning of honour (Herzfeld 1985). Whatever the reason for a vendetta, the result is a series of murders which may go on for decades. A vendetta causing seventy five murders is still remembered in Crete (Lainakis 1994).

Papadakis does not tell the origin of the vendetta which involved his family, but the event which unsettled his life is well known in Chania (2). The brother of Kostas' mother was killed because of vendetta and in turn his mother shot the murderer while he was standing trial in Chania's criminal court. His mother was jailed until 1938; when she was released, the whole family moved to Athens to avoid a vendetta from the murderer's family. Beginning in 1938, Kostas underwent long periods of emigration from Crete, until the vendetta danger passed.

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