Code SMH 200110
Date 2001
Country Greece
Type CD
Status active

(2002 Discography Award by the Greek Union of Drama and Music Critics)

The best extant recorded works of the avant-garde composer Jani Christou (1926-70) performed during his brief life, most of which under his personal supervision, guidance and instruction. The accompanying inset contains photographs of and texts by the composer, significative of his musical purposes or purely aesthetic and philosophical, along with texts for the better understanding and/or the circumstances under which the works were performed, written by such distinguished musicologists as John G. Papaioannou, Anna Lucciano, Yorgos Leotsakos, Piero Guarino, Hans Ferdinand Redlich and Michael Stewart.

One of the leading exponents of 20th century music, the composer-philosopher Jani Christou was raised in the wealthy milieu of the Greek community of Alexandreia, Egypt. He began piano lessons at an early age and went on to study under Gina Bachauer, who also initiated him in music theory.
Following his graduation from Victoria College, he went to England to study philosophy (linguistic logic under L. Wittgenstein and symbolic logic with Bert. Russell) at King’s College, Cambridge (1944-8). Meanwhile, he studied music theory with Hans F. Redlich at Letchworth and later he attended the summer theory courses at the Academy Chigiana in Sienna, Italy, with Vitto Frazzi and F. Lavagnino. He was initiated in psychology of the subconscious by his elder brother Evangelos Christou psychoanalyst, who was studying at the Jung Institute in Zurich, and whose thought and personality as well as his unexpected death in a car accident in 1956 –peculiarly prophetic of the composer’s own death – had a tremendous impact on him.

From 1949-50 on, he commenced his musical activities with compositions that relied on philosophical and metaphysical bases, in a world of myth, ecstasy and mysticism, where music is a ritual and where trivialities of everyday life are transformed. The personal character of his music is evident throughout his work, which is, as far as technique is concerned, based on the most avant-garde idioms of western music. However, the essence and psychology of his work has its roots in the philosophy of the great civilizations (from the pre-Socratics and Aeschylus to the eastern ancient civilizations) as well as in the future as envisioned by the composer.

  composer: Jani Christou
For orchestra, in five continuous movements (1948-9).
Greek Radio Symphony Orchestra (E.I.R.).
Conductor: Franz Litzschauer.
Kentrikon Theatre, Athens, April 3rd 1962.
  composer: Jani Christoupoetry: T. S. Eliot, Vocals: Alice Gabbai
For mezzo soprano and piano (1955).
Piero Guarino, piano.
Private recording, probably at the composer’s home, 1955.
  composer: Jani Christou
For solo viola (female), five actors, instrumental ensemble, tapes, various sound objects and a red cloth (1966-7).
Soloist: Rhoda Lee Rhea, viola.
Actors: N. Vouteris, N. Charalambous, S. Michopoulou, D. Asteriadis, A.Katsaridis.
Music Ensemble of Second Hellenic Week of Contemporary Music.
Conductor: Dimitris Agrafiotis.
World première, Athens Hilton Hotel, April 3rd 1967, during the 2nd Hellenic Week of Contemporary Music.
  composer: Jani Christou
For orchestra (1965-8).
Elaboration and mixing of four different recorded performances of the work (1969).
Oakland Symphony Orchestra.
Conductor: Gerhard Samuel.
World première, included Oakland, February 18, 1969.
Mixing at Polysound Studio, Athens, by the composer assisted by Stephanos Vassiliadis, 1969.