RETURNManolis Kalomiris

Manolis Kalomiris

Composer and conductor
He was born in Smyrna on 14/12/1883. The son of a middle-class family of Smyrna, where he took his first music lessons, he went on to study piano in Athens and later on in Istanbul. He studied music at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna [Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien] (1901-06). Following graduation, he lived and worked as piano teacher in Kharkov, Russia – now, Ukraine – (1906-1910), where he became well acquainted with Russian music. He had a close friendship with writer Yannis Psycharis and poet Kostis Palamas. He sided with the “Demoticists” (advocates of the demotic Greek language) and Eleftherios Venizelos, using pragmatism to deal with the turbulent domestic historic setting (1900-1960). He was writing articles in Noumas journal and in 1908 he published his famous manifesto for the creation of a “National School” of Greek music, breaching away from the preexisting “Ionian School of Music.” Using the German (Wagnerian) and Russian Schools as models, he created the first great symphonic works in Greece. He composed five operas, chamber music and song cycles. His oeuvre started a School which, however, fell into decline after his death (1962). He served as a piano and advanced music theory professor at the Athens Conservatory (1911-19), Inspector General of Military Musicians (1918-20, 1922-37), vice president of the Grek National Music Council, president of the Hellenic Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (1947). In 1945 he was elected member of the Academy of Athens. He had a decisive contribution in organizing music education in Greece by founding the Hellenic Conservatory (1919) and the National Conservatory (1926), which he managed until 1948. He also founded and directed the short-lived National Opera Company [Ethnikos Melodramatikos Omilos] (1933-35). He was a co-founder and president (1936-45, 1947-57) of the Greek Composers' Union. He played a decisive role in shaping the musical landscape in Greece and even more so in the founding and development of the Greek National Opera, where he served as Director General and Chairman of the Board (1950-52).