Written by Thomas Tamvakos
Panagiotis Theodossiou is not, as he should have been, widely known in
the world of scholarly music. Still, those who had the happiness of
hearing samples of his wonderful music in concerts, fully impressed, as
far as I know, do not forget their composer. So, this article comes as
a minimum contribution to making his life-giving artistic presence
His résumé mentions piano studies (initially) with Efi Agrafioti at the
“Kassiani Alexopoulou” Conservatory which resulted in a piano diploma
in 1996. He has also studied theory of music in the “N. Skalkotas”
Conservatory and in “Sychrono” Conservatory (1986-90) under professor
Michalis Travlos. He attended composition lessons under the same
professor which led to the – formal – acquisition of the diploma in
composition in 2005.
He wrote his first work as early as 1984. It is “Phos Ilaron” for mixed choir and it is based on a famous hymn of the early Christian church sung as the evening light disappears and the lamps are lit (Epilihnios”). In 1990 he starts teaching music, initially at the K. Alexopoulou Conservatory and then at the “Aioliki” School of Music. Moreover in the period 1989-94 he presents musicological programmes on the radio station of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece. His excellent “Paraklisis” (1991), a seven-part piece for solo clarinet is a fine specimen of his music. Written in a modern progressive idiom, it is based on the symmetry of intervals and their gradual transformation. Its theatrical presentation at the Festival of religious Music on the Island of Patmos in 2003 had a deeply stirring quality, of which the recording provides ample proof. In 1994 he returns with another work “Cadenzae” for clarinet and viola, written as a study in the style of the period of Mozart for Stathis Kiosoglou and Natasha Ananna, who were also the work’s first interpreters. 1995 marks the beginning of his very fertile cooperation with Geitonas School, where working as a music teacher he is also involved in several activities. In the meantime, as a founding member and a regular contributor to the “Ta Mousika”, a periodical publication on musicology, he publishes interesting articles, including among others an interview with the famous composer John Tavener. His religious pursuits (he is a graduate of Theology from the University of Athens), his personal experiences, his personal course through passion and resurrection, led him to write “Triodion”, a five part piece for alto flute, English horn and basset horn in 1996, an ode for the three monophonic instruments. The musical idiom here is closer to the traditional tonality with some hints of jazz harmony.
During the 1990s he attends a number of interesting seminars, which greatly help him expand his horizons. At the close of the decade (1999) another work, his sixth, is born, “Anakrasis”, this time for solo piano. In it P. Theodossiou observes symmetry in intervals in yet a freer manner mixing tonic elements. Using the particular sonority of various regions of the instrument, he describes the “anakrasis”, the transubstantiation of the consecrated bread and wine to body and blood of Jesus Christ in the ritual of the Holy Mass. And it is for the time being his only recorded work (Motivo Records).
The twelve “Little Studies” for piano follow (1998-2002) each of a different character and style. They span the range from a simple tonic idiom to serialism. This work marks the beginning of the composer’s most fertile period which yields more than 20 works in just 3 years (2002-2005). It is in 2005 that he moves into larger forms in the collection “Music and Vision”. It is a collection of compositions combined with image (TV, film, theatrical or imaginary). It includes 4 short works (a) “Barcarole”, a short orchestral “comment” in a romantic-impressionistic style (b) “Epic Overture” for synthesizers and a large orchestra in an epic-romantic style for a hypothetical high budget film production.(c) “M” for piano, double bass and orchestra. A symphonic study in the jazz style dedicated to Michel Legrand, (d) “Landscape in Heaven” for mixed choir and orchestra. In the above collection the composer also includes the works: a) “Strange Visitors” for a string quartet, a suspense sequence for a hypothetical horror film, b) “Prelude” (Occhi di Mare), a piece in the 3-part form of a lied, c) “Music for a hypothetical T.V. Series of the 70s” for a jazz orchestra. Eight small ethnic-jazz-funk rock pieces written for commercials belong in the same collection. A very productive year, 2002, closes with “Tristraton” (Blind Oedipus) for oboe and percussion, written for a hypothetical performance of the famous scene from the tragedy “Oedipus Rex” by Sophocles. Another great work “Nocturne” for flute, oboe, cello and piano (2003), the cello in the leading role clearly shows that the composer has conquered a bright personal musical idiom of excellent quality. Also in 2003 two dance composition follow: a) “Dance Scenes” for a wind quintet, in a more austere abstract twelve-tone technique (a reference to Webern to whom it is dedicated) with an emphasis on the relations between intervals within the serial order, and b) “Dance Sketches” for violin and piano, 4 concert pieces each of them a portrait of a composer (Skalkotas, Berg, Hindemith, Handel and Stravinsky) and a study in their respective styles.
In 2004, he composes “Temptations” for clarinet and viola, a series of variations in a virtuoso spirit, atonal idiom and programmatic character, which are to be recorded shortly. He also finishes the first part of his “Concert for cello and orchestra” dedicated to Manos Hatzidakis. Also in 2004, he composes “Eros” for cello. The work, which carries explicit references to the work of Sappho, was commissioned by the “Thomas Tamvakos” Archive of Greek Composers in order to be presented to a concert of the “Kelados” Ensemble dedicated to the famous Ancient Greek poetess. It is based on a type of extended serialism to create a strong construction under a new perspective of vertical and horizontal composition. In 2004 he joins the Association of Greek Composers.
His work includes several imaginative arrangements and transcriptions of the works of Scriabin, Prokofiev, G. Konstantinides, M. Hatzidakis etc. and a large quantity of excellent teaching material: piano exercises, arrangements for piano, piano and fife, music for short films etc. We and the art of music have much to look forward to from the exceptionally talented composer. Sources Thomas Tamvakos Archive of Greek Composers, Recordings ”Anakrasis” on CD (Motivo, 2000)
PANAGIOTIS THEODOSSIOU A model of modesty and character, a talented composer, who has written few but excellent works, has made several arrangements and transcriptions, and a music teacher, whose work “Eros” will be performed in the coming concert of the Kelados Ensemble, of the Thomas Tamvakos Archive of Greek Composers (on 20/4/2005), at the Nakas Conservatory Concert Hall)