Georgios Jakobides

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Painter, Scholar (1853 – 1932)

Georgios Jakobides was one of the chief representatives of the Munich School. His paintings have earned him the nickname “Painter of Childhood” because they depict scenes with children. He held a significant number of powerful positions in the academia, allowing him to influence and direct the art movement in Greece. He is considered one of the most important oil painters of modern Greece.

He was born in the island of Lesbos in the then Ottoman Empire. He studied sculpture and painting in Athens. One of his teachers there was Nicephorus Lytras. After earning a scholarship, he continued his studies in Munich. There, he founded his own art school for girls. He was member of the German Museum of Nuremberg.

Jakobides painted primarily sceneries from everyday life, which included children, flowers, nature and in-door places. He also painted portraits. Some of his most well-known paintings are The Naughty Grandson, Girl with Distaff and Spindle, The First Steps, The Flower Seller, Grandma’s Favourite, Children’s Concert, Cold Shower, Reversal of Roles, The Smoker, Granddaughter’s Combing and The Toilette. His paintings were characterized by realism expressed through movement, vivid colours and lighting.

He was the recipient of numerous achievement awards, namely the golden medal of Athens in 1888, the honour award from Bremen in 1890, the economian award of Trieste in 1895, the golden medal of Paris in 1900, the excellence award of Letters and Art in 1914 and many others. He became the first headmaster of the National Art Gallery of Athens in 1900 and was a professor of fine arts in the University of Athens. With the foundation of the Academy of Athens in 1926, he was chosen as one of its initial 38 members. Jakobides was one of the few wealthy painters in Greece as well as the most beloved painter of the royal family as shown by several of his portraits of the Kings and Queens of Greece.

By the end of his life, he had painted almost 200 paintings. Today they are found in museums all around the world, primarily in Greece and America.

Bibliography

  1. Uzunoglou, Maria-Zografou. ΙΑΚΩΒΙΔΗΣ!!Ο ΖΩΓΡΑΦΟΣ ΤΩΝ ΠΑΙΔΙΩΝ!!. ΤΕΧΝΗ ΚΑΙ ΖΩΗ. Texni-zoi.blogspot.bg. Web. November 7, 2014.
Georgios Jakobides

Nicholas Christofilos

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Physicist (1916 – 1972)

Nicholas Christofilos was an autodidact physicist, a pioneer in the field of accelerator and nuclear physics, who first conceived the strong-focusing principle. The “Crazy Greek” as he was nicknamed by the press, went on to have a highly prestigious career in the United States and his name today is connected with one of the largest space experiments ever conducted on Earth, Operation Argus.

As a child, he would invent improvised radio transmitters. Christofilos graduated from the University of Athens with a degree in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. During the axis occupation in Greece, he worked in an elevator manufacturing company – he would later found his own – and in the meantime, studied physics by himself from various American and German books he could get his hands on. It was then that he made the discovery of the strong-focusing principle of the synchrotron accelerators. His original patents on the synchrotron particle accelerator, a circular accelerator combining electric and magnetic fields to accelerate charged particles in enormous velocities was first patented in 1946. However, it was left unpublished for many years, until scientists across the Atlantic recognized his discovery’s importance and offered him a place in the Brookhaven experimental laboratory.

Having all of a sudden become from an elevator technician in Greece to a nuclear physics researcher in one of the most important research institutes in America, Christofilos began participating in top-secret physics research projects in the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The most famous one, which was proposed by him, was Operation Argus. The operation, which was prepared in less than 4 months and was approved by President Eisenhower under complete secrecy, aimed at creating some sort of magnetic “mirror”. Thus, in 1957, in the midst of the Cold War, three atomic bombs were launched into space. Their explosions released countless of high-energy electrons that were entrapped in the Earth’s magnetic field, creating, as Christofilos had predicted, an artificial zone of electrons around the Earth’s magnetosphere between the zones of Van Allen, which lasted for nearly 2 weeks. It turned out to be even more successful than anticipated.

Operation Argus was one of the largest and most impressive space operations ever to be conducted by the American government. The nuclear blasts from the atomic bombs were so strong that disabled every satellite and blacked-out all radars above the North Atlantic, including the Russians’ satellites in orbit. It also marked the first time man created an artificial aurora.

Today, over 200 research papers bear his name, mostly on nuclear fusion such as the proposed Astron, antennas of continental dimensions and particle accelerators. They also include multiple other operations of huge proportions such as: Operation Sanguine, a project on telecommunication with extremely-low frequencies between submarines and Operation Starfish, a nuclear-war scenario project that turned night into day, creating yet another aurora which took 10 years for the Earth’s magnetic field to recover. His principle that was put into action in Operation Argus was named the Christofilos effect after him. He was awarded multiple prizes and recognition for his everlasting contributions to nuclear and particle physics. The fact that he could put his knowledge to effect in such terrifying nuclear experiments proved that he was two things in life: a visionary and a crazy Greek.

Bibliography

  1. Δαγκλής, Ιωάννης. Νικόλαος Χριστόφιλος: ο τρελο-Έλληνας του πειράματος “Argus”. Secret Real Truth. Thesecretrealtruth.blogspot.com. Web. September 30, 2012.
  2. Lahanas, Michael. Nicholas Constantine Christofilos. Mlahanas.de. Web.
  3. Νικόλαος Χριστόφιλος, ο «ατομικός» Έλλην πίσω από τους διαστημικούς και πυρηνικούς θριάμβους των ΗΠΑ!. Triklopodia.gr. Web. August 14, 2016.
Nicholas Christofilos

Altani

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Writer, Researcher (1933)

During the Renaissance, Greek scholars that fled to the West struggled to keep the candle of Hellenism flaming so that the eternal wisdom of the Ancient Greek philosophers be disseminated to the peoples of tomorrow. Altani is one of today’s such people, one of the most erudite philologists, who continues to pass on the hidden knowledge of the Ancient Greek thought in a deciphered way, so that it affects the readers’ souls.

She studied philology and foreign languages, then continued her studies in music in Conservatio di Santa Cecilia di Roma and in the Royal School of Music in London. Thereafter, she got involved in studying the Ancient Greek philosophy and mythology.

The writer’s first book that started it all was Epidauros Tholou Apocalypsis. It was the beginning of a series of books of mythological-philosophical-psychological content called Arrhetoi Logoi, and which bridged mythology with philosophy, proving the former’s profound meaning on man’s soul. In it, Altani first made a worldwide discovery about the heliocentric system and the precession of the equinoxes exactly displayed on the pavement of the Tholos of Epidaurus, 40 years before its discovery by Aristarchus and 170 years before the birth of Hipparchus, respectively. The analogic relationship between the microscopic human being and the macroscopic celestial universe has been realized.

In the following books were introduced or decoded key concepts of understanding the Greek philosophy, such as symbols, Gods and deities, archetypes, Pythagoras’ arithmosophy and the Pythagorean theorem, anagrammatisms of the Greek language based on Plato’s Cratylus and the “monsters of the soul”. In the fourth book, Altani managed to reconstruct the ancient system of Greek Meditation (Ἑλληνικὸς Διαλογισμὸς) by putting together the lost pieces of the puzzle based on the surviving works of Orpheus, Hesiod, Homer, Plato and Pythagoras. Its enormous success attracted the interest of academia, where Greek psychiatrists confirmed the practical importance and the beneficial effects of the Greek Meditation. Her works are products of the Greek Meditation.

The cultivation of the ancient Greek inheritance and the promotion of the Greek philosophy and thought are but a result of Altani’s hard work. The greatness of her work lies in her ability to decipher what eminent scholars cannot, provide us with a clear understanding of the profound wisdom of the Ancient Greeks and most importantly, her achievement to rebuild an incredibly ancient and complicated method that was lost thousands of years ago. That method’s purpose is not only to give valuable fruits to the meditationist but also to aid humanity’s soul to become one with the Divine. Such work can only be undertaken by people with virtue, memory and discipline.

Bibliography

  1. Altani. Arrhetoi Logoi Thaumas enanti Exousiaston Titanon. Kaktos: Athens, 2017. Print.
  2. Altani. Arrhetoi Logoi Hellikos Dia-Logismos. Georgiades: Athens, 2006. Print.
Altani

Manolis Kalomiris

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Composer (1883 – 1962)

Musician and composer Manolis Kalomiris is heralded as one of the most important composers in modern Greek history. He is the founder of the Greek National School of Music and one of the musicians who helped create the identity of the Greek music.

Kalomiris made his debut in 1908 as a composer in one of the most renowned concerts of the Odeon of Athens. He wrote a total of 222 works, including operas, orchestral music, symphonies, songs, chorals, room music etc. His most famous ones, The Mother’s Ring (1917) and Symphony of Leventia (1929) have received significant attention outside Greece. Other important works include The Protomastoras (1915) and Magivotana (1912-1913), a series of poems by Kostis Palamas set to music. His music was influenced by a multitude of factors, namely Wagner, national Russian music, the Greek demotic songs and by Greek poets such as Angelos Sikelianos and Nikos Kazantzakis.

Apart from the Greek National School of Music, Kalomiris also founded the Greek Odeon and co-founded the Union of Greek Composers. He served for the first time as Director of the National Opera in 1945, was elected member of the Academy of Athens, the first musician to achieve such a distinction and served as Inspector Archmusician of the army. Kalomiris was a pedagogue of music and scholar; he wrote numerous children’s books on the theory of music and taught in the University of Athens. In this way, he became the founder of the Greek pedagogic system of music.

His influence on the Greek music in the first half of the 20th century was enormous not only as a musician and a composer, but also as a pedagogue, a music critic, an author and a manager, the main representative who shaped the national Greek music.

Bibliography

  1. Μανώλης Καλομοίρης. Σαν σήμερα. Sansimera.gr. Web. Retrieved on March 19, 2017.
  2. Politopoulos, H. The Composer. Manolis Kalomiris. Kalomiris.gr. Web. December, 1999. Retrieved on March, 19, 2017.
  3. Tsetsos, Markos. Ο ΜΑΝΩΛΗΣ ΚΑΛΟΜΟΙΡΗΣ ΚΑΙ ΟΙ ΜΟΥΣΙΚΟΙ ΘΕΣΜΟΙ. Tar.gr. Web. Retrieved on March 19, 2017.
Manolis Kalomiris

Dimitri Mitropoulos

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Conductor (1896 – 1960)

Dimitri Mitropoulos was one of the greatest conductors in history. He was also a pianist, a composer, pedagogue; an archmusician who served as Music Director of the Philharmonic of New York from 1949 to 1958. He was honoured with the highest distinctions by the Greek state, as well as from some of the most distinguished institutes of music in Europe and the Americas.

In 1915, at the age of 19, he directed for the first time the orchestra of the Odeon of Athens. In 1927, having already achieved widespread fame in Greece, he assumed the direction of the Symphonic Orchestra of the Athens Odeon. He made his debut abroad in 1930 as the conductor, soloist and composer of the Philharmonic of Berlin. He performed in famed cities such as Paris, Rome, Milan, Monte Carlo, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Warsaw etc. His fame brought him to the United States, where he assumed the direction of the Orchestra of Minneapolis and Boston and finally the Metropolitan Opera in 1954. Mitropoulos was one of the first who performed in Ancient Greek theatres (Epidaurus, Herodeion).

He directed over 2000 performances in his lifetime and 764 performances in a period of 20 years throughout the world, conducted 50 world premiers and directed 45 of the world’s greatest orchestras such as the Philharmonic of Vienna, the Philharmonic of Berlin and the Orchestra of La Scala in 1952, where he conducted operas such as Alan Berg’s Wozzeck. Furthermore, he introduced the works of Mahler, Schoenberg, Shostakovich and Prokofiev to the American public. He was chiefly admired for the innovation of his performances and his expressionism (he did not use a baton but his hands instead). As a pioneer of the 20th century music, he developed his own personal technique where he could visualize music, impart his own changes and adapt to the special requirements of each style.

Mitropoulos was known for his extraordinary memory, which he had trained for years. He would rehearse from memory and would remember every single note by heart, always conducting without any sheet music in front of him, not even during the rehearsals. He was one of only few, who could play a concerto in the piano while simultaneously conducting an entire orchestra. His prodigious talent enabled him to write stage music, room music, songs, operas and symphonies.

He died of a heart attack while on the podium, conducting Mahler’s Third Symphony on a rehearsal in La Scala of Milan. By the end of his 37 year career, Mitropoulos had been recognized worldwide as a thaumaturge of music, a conductor of global influence, a unique man gifted by the Muses.

Bibliography

  1. Dimitri Mitropoulos. New York Philharmonic. Nyphil.org. Web. Retrieved on March 4, 2017.
  2. Δημήτρης Μητρόπουλος. Musicale. Musicale.gr. Web. Retrieved on March 4, 2017.
  3. Kostios, Apostolos. Δημήτρης Μητρόπουλος (1896 -1960). Dimitrimitropoulos.gr. Web. Retrieved on March 5, 2017.
Dimitri Mitropoulos

Alexander Papadiamantis

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Novelist, Poet (1851 – 1911)

He is one of Greece’s most highly respected and commemorated novelists of the modern era. He has been characterized as the “top of the tops” by Constantine Cavafy and as the “Saint of Greek letters” unanimously by the Greek literary world. Nobel-prize laureate Odysseus Elytis’ words “Commemorate Dionysius Solomos, commemorate Alexandros Papandiamantis” reflect the prestige of Alexander Papadiamantis, the “pure child of the Orthodox Church” as he called himself, and his massive influence on the Greek letters of the 19th and 20th century.

Alexander Papadiamantis was born in the island of Skiathos. He studied philology in the University of Athens, but did not complete his studies. Nevertheless, he was a highly spiritual figure with profound knowledge on the Ancient Greek writers and philosophers. He spent a big part of his life as monk in Mount Athos, had a small circle of friends and was a very religious and conservative man. He made his editorial debut in 1879 as a novelist, a translator and a journalist.

He wrote multiple novels and poems, starting with The Emigrant and The Merchant of the Nations. These followed with The Boundless Garden, Around the Lagoon, Christos Milionis and Love in the Snow. One of his most successful serial novels became The Gypsy Girl, a story centered on a gypsy girl and her love with Machtus, a gypsy man, set during the final days of the Byzantine Empire, as well as her conflict with Georgios Plethon – Gemistus, the chief representative of the continuation of Hellenism, who culminated the Byzantine world during its last years, playing a central role in the novel’s plot. Papadiamantis’ most widely known novella is The Murderess, a story of an elderly woman who kills young girls out of pity, believing that she will relieve the girls from their sorrow in society. Papadiamantis wrote over 100 short stories or “short masterpieces” as they came to be known. Some of the most notable ones include The Carrion, The Little Star, The Poor Saint, The Housemaid, The Seal’s Dirge, Dream on the Wave and Little House on the Meadow.

Papadiamantis’ works are characterized primarily by love for three things: nature, Christ and the Greek traditions and values. Since his death, they have occupied a special place among the Greek letters for their vivid ethographic character, religiosity, realism and psychography of the characters. Nobel-prize laureate Georgios Seferis considered him as perhaps the most important prose writer of modern Greek literature, together with Yiannis Makriyiannis. His bibliography ultimately influenced the succeeding novelists and poets to a significant degree. Today, his house in Skiathos is a museum.

Bibliography

  1. Αλέξανδρος Παπαδιαμάντης 1851 – 1911. Σαν Σήμερα. Sansimera.gr. Web. Retrieved on February 25, 2017.
  2. “Papadiamantis, Alexandros”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens, 1946. Print.
  3. The Father of Modern Greek Literature. Ellines.com. Web. Retrieved on February 25, 2017.
Alexander Papadiamantis

Vasilis Tsitsanis

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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.

Bibliography

  1. Vasilis Tsitsanis. Greeksongs-greekmusic.com. Web. Retrieved on January 15, 2017.
  2. Βασίλης Τσιτσάνης 1915 – 1984. sansimera.gr. Web. Retrieved on January 15, 2017.
Vasilis Tsitsanis