Singer, Musician, Composer (1915 – 1984)
In 1936, a 21-year old peasant from Trikala arrived in Larisa Station in Athens, completely penniless, carrying with him nothing but a bouzouki and a suitcase, with some notebooks of serenades and a bunch of clothes inside. His music would change the Greek musical world forever and he would be written down in history as one of the most influential and beloved Greek singers and composers of the 20th century.
Vasilis Tsitsanis never ceased composing ever since the age of 13, when he began playing the bouzouki. He started studying law in the University of Athens, but soon dropped out, since university was too little for him. To supplement his income, he performed at night clubs until he was approached by a successful singer, who took him to his recording studio. There, he recorded his first song S’enan teneke boukarane, followed by Hi Archontisa, which became a hit. The song, which was written during the 2nd World War, would be performed by numerous renowned singers, such as Markos Vamvakaris.
During the Axis Occupation, Tsitsanis opened the Ouzeri Tsitsanis in Thessaloniki, a small tavern where he performed some of his most successful and classic songs. By the age of 23, he had already become famous throughout all Greece. His songs were sung throughout the entire country and his name had become synonymous to that of a master musician and musical reformer of Laiko. He attracted numerous important figures of the Greek musical industry, namely Stelios Kazantzidis, Marika Ninou and Gregorios Bithikotsis. Some of his most famous songs became Whatever I say, I don’t Forget You, We Are Alania, I Was Born to Hurt, A Stroll Indside Greece, Tonight in the Seashores, Magic Nights, Acharisti, Beautiful Thessaloniki and most notably Cloudy Sunday.
By the end of his career, Tsistanis had composed and sang over 500 songs. He died on his 69th birthday on January 18, 1984. He was awarded posthumously the Charles Graux prize by the Musical Academy of France in 1985. To date, he is the only one of two Greeks to have been awarded this prize, along with Harris Alexiou. He passed down in history as one of the founders of Rebetiko and an important, innovative reformer of contemporary Greek folk music. His music inaugurated a new era in the Greek musical world, beginning as early as before the Second World War. To this day, Tsitsanis’ songs are considered masterpieces, Tsistanis himself as the greatest Greek musician.
- Vasilis Tsitsanis. Greeksongs-greekmusic.com. Web. Retrieved on January 15, 2017.
- Βασίλης Τσιτσάνης 1915 – 1984. sansimera.gr. Web. Retrieved on January 15, 2017.