Stavros Xarchakos

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Stavros Xarchakos
Σταύρος Ξαρχάκος
Born (1939-03-14) 14 March 1939 (age 84)
Athens, Greece
Occupation(s)Composer, conductor

Stavros Xarchakos, Greek: Σταύρος Ξαρχάκος [ˈstavros ksarˈxakos] (born 14 March 1939) is a Greek composer and conductor.

Stavros Xarchakos was born in Athens, where he studied at the Athens Conservatoire. He has family origins from the Mani Peninsula. He emerged in the Greek music scene around 1963, composing music for the theatre and cinema. Among his collaborators was lyricist Lefteris Papadopoulos and singer Nikos Xylouris.

In 1967 he went to Paris to study with Nadia Boulanger. He stayed in Paris for four years, and then studied with David Diamond at the Juilliard School of Music in New York. He served as director of the National Orchestra of Greek Music.[citation needed]

He was later involved in politics and was elected Member of the Greek Parliament twice, before becoming a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from 2000 to 2004. He was again a candidate for the European Parliament with New Democracy, in the elections of 25 May 2014, but was not elected.


Εarly years Stavros Xarchakos was born on March 14, 1939, in the centre of Athens, where he lives to this day. He comes from Laconian Mani. Growing up in a neighbourhood of the capital, where the arts flourished, he came into contact with folk and rebetiko songs, but also with the European music, broadcast on the radio, while he was strongly influenced by church music. He also received musical inspiration from his grandmother, who played the guitar and sang along with arias from operas and cantadas. From an early age he showed an interest in music and attended cello and piano lessons.

Studies In 1958 he was admitted to the Athens Conservatory, where his first studies in music took place. In 1968, while he was at a very productive moment in his career, wishing to develop his music and broaden his knowledge, he decided to study music and composition in Paris, as a student of the leading French musicologist and pedagogue Nadia Boulanger, until 1973.

In 1978, wishing to study the technique of classical music and immerse himself in harmony, composition and orchestra conducting, he decided to continue his studies at the Julliard School in New York, at the urging of Leonard Bernstein, with whom he corresponded, after he was brought into contact with him by Kimon Friar, an internationally renowned academic and translator of the work of Nikos Kazantzakis. At the Julliard School he studied alongside David Diamond for three years. He was taught score analysis under Bernstein for two years and conducted many concerts. An example is the concert held in New York, in which he conducted the city's Symphony Orchestra.

Discography - Performances At the beginning of his career, he distinguished himself as a composer of film and theatre music. His album production begins in 1963 and includes more than –45- records, music for –21- films and -15- television productions.

In 1961 he composed music for Jane Arden's play "The Party", while in 1963, at the age of 24, he took over the music composition for the emblematic film "Ta kokkina Fanaria", directed by Vassilis Georgiadis. The film received rave reviews and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1964 and was suggested for nomination for the Palme d'Or prize at the Cannes Film Festival. The same-titled album was released that year and was enriched with new songs. A little later he composed music for the film "Lola" directed by Dinos Dimopoulos. Among the musical themes and songs of the film, "Hathike to Feggari" stood out, performed by Vicky Moscholiou.

In 1964, he composed the music for the songs included in a series of documentaries entitled "Melina's Greece", which were created by the American television network ABC to promote Greece. Melina Merkouri, performed the songs "Ti exei kai klaiei to paidi" and "Na me thymasai” with lyrics by Eftychia Papagiannopoulou and Vangelis Goufas, respectively.

In 1965 he composed the music for the film "Monterna Stachtompouta (Modern Cinderella)" written and directed by Alekos Sakellariou, while the following year for the film "Diplopenies" directed by Giorgos Scalenakis. The second film features the songs "Matia Vourkomena", "Stou Othona ta chronia" and "Me ti kardia (Farewell)", in lyrics by Nikos Gatsos, performed by the actor Dimitris Papamichail. The film was presented at the San Sebastián festival and the Cannes Film Festival under the title "the syrtaki" and travelled to Japan, England and France. The album was released the following year in an English version, with Grigoris Bithikotsis, Vicky Moscholiou and Stamatis Kokota as performers. In 1966, the album "I Ellas xwris syntrimia" was released, which includes his and Theodorakis songs. His music had accompanied the documentary of the same title by Angelos Lambros.

In 1968 he composed the music for the film "Koritsia ston Hlio", directed by Vasilis Georgiadis, which won -4- awards at the Thessaloniki Film Festival, including best music, while in 1969 the movie was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film. In 1968, his first work on the rebetiko song titled "Markos o daskalos mas" was released, which includes –12- songs by Markos Vamvakaris, from his own perspective.

In 1972, the film was presented in Japan. He also composed -5- of the songs included in Nana Mouschouri's album "Spiti mou Spitaki mou", with lyrics by Nikos Gatsos. In the same year, he composed the music for the film "Lysistrata", the well-known ancient comedy of Aristophanes. In 1973, he composed the music for the TV series "Oi emporoi twn ethnwn", based on the same-titled novel by Alexandros Papadiamantis. There, the memorable song "Htane mia fora" performed by Nikos Xylouris is heard for the first time.

In 1973, he also composed the music for the theatrical performance "To megalo mas tsirko", by Iakovos Campanellis, in which - using satire and drama - a look back at the modern history of the country takes place. The play became a vehicle for expressing the protest of the Greek citizens against the dictatorial regime and the actors were persecuted. After the restoration of democracy, he composed the music for the song "Proskynima" which was added to the performance to honour the victims of the Polytechnic University. In 1966, together with Manos Hadjidakis and Mikis Theodorakis, they fought for the abolition of art censorship, which had been imposed by the dictatorial regime. He and the performer Nikos Xylouris, used to sing at the Polytechnic University supporting the anti-dictatorship struggle of the students.

In 1974, the album "Nyn kai aei" was released, performed by Viki Moscholiou and Nikos Dimitratos, as well as the album "Syllogi" performed by Nikos Xylouris. In 1976 he composed the music for the play "O peirasmos" by Grigoris Xenopoulos, with the album of the same title released the following year with the protagonist of the play, Aliki Vougiouklakis, as the performer.

Also, driven by his love and interest in classical music, in addition to folk and art music, he has composed works for a symphony orchestra, among which stand out the symphonic poem of 1969 "Kyra-Panagia", the "Piano Concerto" of 1971, "Endopsis" of 1979 for baritone and orchestra, in poetry by Giorgos Seferis, the suite for orchestra of 1982 "Anamniseis".

Returning from his studies in New York in 1983, he composed the music for the film "To Rebetiko", directed by Kostas Ferris. The lyrics of the songs were written by Nikos Gatsos. The film won -4- awards at the Thessaloniki Film Festival, including the special music award. The film won the Silver Bear award at the 34th Berlin Film Festival, while at the same time it was distinguished at the Valencia and Alexandria Film Festivals. In the same year he composed the music for the BBC television series "The dark side of the Sun", filmed in Rhodes, while in 1986 he composed the music for the film "Sweet Country", directed by Michalis Kakogiannis, which deals with the events of the dictatorship in Chile.

In 1986, his song "Ta traina po fygan" was performed by the Greek mezzo-soprano Agnes Baltsa, to be included in the album released internationally entitled "Songs my country taught me". His collaboration with Mpaltsa includes concerts in major theatres of the world in Austria, Japan, the USA and Germany.

In 1988, a concert was held at the "Pallas" theatre in which Giorgos Dalaras and Dimitra Galani performed, while an album was released the same year under the title "Synaulia". In 1989 he met musically - for the first and last time on stage - with Manos Hadjidakis and Mikis Theodorakis at the Olympic Stadium. He conducted the orchestra for a large part of the concert, with Mikis Theodorakis performing popular songs. Their musical coexistence in the concert that took place is one of the most emblematic moments in the history of modern Greek music.

In 1989 he was elected a municipal councillor in the Municipality of Athens and served as deputy mayor for Cultural Affairs. He was also elected as a Member of Parliament in Athens from 1989 to 1990, when he resigned.

In 1991, the album "To kata Markon" was released with lyrics by Nikos Gatsos and performance by Giorgos Dalaras. In 1994 he collaborated again with Nana Mouschouri, composing the music for the album "Agapi einai Zoi", for which lyrics were written by Nikos Gatsos and Manos Hadjidakis. In that year, he composed the music and took over the theatre direction for the play "Aman - Amen", which presents the history of the Rebetiko song. He was also awarded as Doctor of Fine Arts at Adelphi University of New York.

In 1995 he took over the artistic direction of the State Orchestra of Hellenic Music (KOEM) which he conducted in many concerts, nationally and internationally. In 1996 he composed the music for the lyrical tragedy LLanto por Ignacio Sanchez Mejias (Funeral Song for Ignacio Sanchez Mejias), based on the same-titled poem of Federico Garcia Lorca, which was directed by Pierre Jourdan and presented at the Imperial Theatre of Compiegne.

In 1996, he also held a concert at the Berlin Opera with the participation of Dimitra Galani and KOEM, while in 1998, in collaboration with the Gennadeion Library of Athens, he presented the performance "Ode Poreias - Ode for Journey", conducting KOEM at Carnegie Hall of New York. In 1999, he conducted the musical performance "Magikes Nychtes", which took place at the Herodes Atticus Conservatory. As a tribute to the fifteen years since the death of Vassilis Tsitsanis, -25- top songs were presented, in his own orchestrations.

In 1999, the "Requiem - Night and Light" concert was held, co-produced by Greece, France and Belgium, under the light of the full moon, and under the imposing rock of Meteora, Thessaly. The performance was inspired by the unfinished "Requiem" as composed by Mozart. He conducted the National Symphony Orchestra of Lithuania, while the choirs of Philippopolis, Lithuania and Belgrade also participated. In 2000, conducting the State Orchestra of Greek Music, he held a tribute concert at the Herodes Atticus Conservatory, for the 75th anniversary of Mikis Theodorakis birth, in which the composer was present. At the same year he presented the opera "Le visiter", while the following year he curated a concert - a tribute to the work of Mikis Theodorakis- in which he conducted the KOEM. Both performances were held at the Imperial Theatre in Compiegne, France.

From 2000 to 2004 he was elected and served as a Greek Member of the European Parliament. During his term of office, he focused his interest on culture and education issues, making speeches and submitting relevant proposals and suggestions, within the framework of his institutional role. From 2000 to 2002 he was a substitute member of the Culture, Youth, Education, Media and Sports Committee, while from 2002 to 2004 a regular member of the same Committee. Among other things, he was a regular member of the Development & Cooperation and Reports Committees.

In 2001, the world-famous tenor Jose Carreras, accompanied by the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, performed the song "Ta traina pou fygan" which was included under the title "Volve" on the album "Around the World".

In 2004, he composed the emblematic music, which was heard at the opening ceremony of the 28th Summer Olympic Games in Athens, "To zeibekiko tou Dia", by which he travelled Greek music all over the world. At the same time, he composed the music for the ancient tragedy "Troades" by Euripides, directed by Diagoras Chronopoulos. The premiere of the film took place in the ancient theatre of Epidaurus and from there it travelled to Turkey, where it was presented for the first time in the ancient theatre of Troy. From 2005 to 2006 he was the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Hellenic Cultural Foundation.

In 2006, he orchestrated the album "Erimia" by Mikis Theodorakis with lyrics by Lefteris Papadopoulos, with performers Maria Farandouri and Manolis Mitsias. In 2008, he conducted the KOEM in a concert with the mezzo-soprano Agnes Baltsa at the Athens Concert Hall, the proceeds of which were allocated to the charity "I Agapi". In 2009, he presented his opera "Syrano and Roxani" at the National Opera, in a co-production with the Compiagne Imperial Theatre of France.

With a continuous presence at the Conservatory of Herodes Atticus, which constitutes a place of indescribable value and beauty for the world's cultural heritage, he has created and performed unforgettable evenings celebrating music. In 2009, it was the place where his partnership with Agnes Baltsa was repeated with the concert entitled "The songs of my homeland". In 2011 he presented songs by Hadjidakis, Theodorakis and his own, allocating the proceeds to the charity organization "together for the child". Also, in 2013, as part of a tribute to Melina Merkouris, he held a concert, in the second part of the show, presenting songs performed by the great Greek actress. In 2014, a retrospective of his musical career took place, through the show "Mana mou Hellas".

A landmark is the concert held at Carnegie Hall in New York in 2014 entitled "Greece for a Lifetime" in which a nine-member folk orchestra participated, while Stamatis Kokotas and Iro Saia sang. In 2015, he composed music for the poem by Yiannis Ritsos "I sonata tou Selinofwtos" and held a performance at the Herodes Atticus Conservatory, in which the songs were performed by the famous Greek singer Marinella.

As part of his charity action, in 2016, he held a grand concert, with the aim of collecting food, in which he presented top songs of his musical career, in the packed Panathinaikos Stadium (Kallimarmaro). His songs were performed by renowned Greek singers.

He presented three major concerts in Cyprus in 2017, while in 2018, he held an opening concert at the international Oud artistic festival in Jerusalem. In 2019, he held a concert in Safra Square in Jerusalem, which was attended mainly by Israeli citizens, who love Greek music.

In 2018, the President of Israel awarded him at a ceremony which was held at the Ambassador’s residence in Athens, for his valuable contribution and promotion of the development of Israel’s and Greece’s cultural bonds and relations. At the same year, he was awarded as an honorary Doctor of the Department of Digital Media and Communication of Technological Institute of Western Macedonia, while in 2019 he was honoured in the same way by the Department of Music of the Faculty of Philosophy of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.

In 2020, he held the concert "5 popular forms in an intensely erotic way", at the Herodes Atticus Conservatory, in the context of which songs from the works of Hadjidakis, Theodorakis, Tsitsanis, Vamvakaris and his own were presented. In 2021, on the occasion of the celebration of the -200- years since the liberation of Greece, he prepared and presented at the Conservatory a concert entitled "Thelei areti kai tolmi ... to tragoudi", paraphrasing the words of the Greek poet Andreas Kalvos. In 2022, a tribute concert to Nikos Xylouris was held, while this year two performances will be presented at the Conservatory, as part of the Athens and Epidaurus festival, during which he will enlist the power of songs which "point the way, are allies in the fight for a better life and banish fear", as he states.

His presence is intense and in a creative way and mood, he approaches Greek music by preparing performances, which are presented throughout the country, at festivals, archaeological monuments, emblematic theatres and places of historical value and importance. Through their conduct, he wishes to promote Greek songs and musical tradition and to contribute to their evolvement.

He has orchestrated many of his own songs, especially when they are going to be presented in concerts and performances, as well as other leading composers’ music in order to approach songs from his own perspective, bring out their identity and scope and breathe new life into them.

Together with Manos Hatzidakis and Mikis Theodorakis, they are considered the trio of leading Greek composers who created and established the "artistic folk" song, enriching its repertoire with popular songs and orchestral works.


While he mainly composed in the style of Greek popular music, Laïka, Xarchakos also composed in the classical music genre.

His music has been recorded to 42 albums, has been used in 21 movies and for 15 TV productions. Internationally he is known as the composer for the Rembetiko film score, composing the music for the Werner Herzog film Signs Of Life, and composing the music for the 1983 BBC TV mini series, The Dark Side of the Sun.

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