Biography

Kyriakos Sfetsas was born on September 29, 1945, in Amfilochia. He was raised in Lefkada where, at an early age, he studied music for the first time at the Philarmonic Band and the National Conservatory of the city with the late Fotis Vlachos. He continued his studies at the National Conservatory of Athens (1963-1966), where he studied the piano with Krino Kalomiri and theory of music with Michalis Vourtsis. On August 30, 1964, in Lefkada, he accompanied on the piano Maria Callas in her last performance in Greece. A few months after the 1967 dictatorship, he moved to Paris. There, on a French State scholarship (1969-1972), he pursued further studies with the composer and educator Max Deutsch (composition, analysis, orchestral conducting), while seeking the mentorship and advice of I. Xenakis, Luigi Nono and Henri Dutilleux.

The first public performance of his work (Episodes for piano solo) took place just after the uprising of May ’68 at the “Latin America Hall” in Paris, receiving favourable reviews. After that, his music was often performed and he had his first commissions (by French Radio and TV, the Ars Nova Orchestra and the Dance Group of Vitry). After that period, several of his works are performed in renowned international contemporary music festivals (Royan, Reims, Bordeaux and Paris); at the same time, he works on a regular basis with the contemporary dance group of Vitry and the choreographer Michel Cazerta. A portion of his Paris works were published by Editions Transatlantiques, and it was in Paris in 1974 that he released for the first time one of his works on record: Four-channel electro-acoustic music for the Ballet Smog, one of the first pieces written for four-channel tape in the world. In Greece, he made his debut as a composer at the 4th Hellenic Week of Contemporary Music (Athens, 19th – 26th September 1971) with his work Docimology.

He returned to Greece in Autumn 1975, this time to stay. At the invitation of Manos Hatzidakis, he worked at the Third Programme of the Hellenic Radio (1975-1976) as a free lance producer. In 1977, as a regular employee of the Hellenic Radio, he served as head of the music departments of the 2nd and 1st Programmes, and from the summer of 1982 to January 1994 as director of the 3rd Programme.

Since 1999 he lives and works in Lefkada, the place where he grew up and made his first steps in music.
From 1999 until 2002 he was the Artistic Director of the Cultural Center of the Municipality of Lefkada and cultural
institutions “Speech and Art Festival” “International Percussion Festival” and “International Folklore Festival.”

His body of work consists of a large number of compositions: symphonic, choral, ballet and theatre music, chamber, electronic, pieces for solo instruments, pieces in jazz and fusion style, songs on Greek and World poems. In the years after 1980, he also writes music for films. In 1980, his music for P. Tasios’ Paragelia receives first prize at the Film Festival of Thessaloniki. He also writes the music for Stigma, by the same director (1982), D. Panagiotatos’ The night with Silena (1986), M. Ditsas’ Night Exit (1991), N. Grammatikos’ U Turn (1991) and A time to kill (1993).

Since the now historic recording of Without Boundaries (1980), several recordings of his work have been released on several labels (EMI, CBS, ENM, PRAXIS etc.), always with at least favourable reviews. In the spring of 1991, he released his first digital recording (on CD), Silent Days, on UTOPIA; and in 1993, the CD Colours in Double, a tribute to the art of the great traditional music performer Vassilis Soukas, containing the works Colours in Double and Lyrical Suite (recorded live at the Festivals of Irakleion (’88) and Patra (’87)), in which the late musician had substantial solo parts. In 1999, his entire recordings were re-released in 8 CDs on FINEAS, a record label owned by S. Gavrielides Publications.

Most of his work in the last few years has been commissioned by Greek and other cultural authorities and organizations, and has been performed in Europe, Australia and America by renowned music ensembles, such as the Bolshoi Soloists, the Ensemble Modern of Frankfurt, Polyrhythmia of Sofia, the Okada percussion ensemble of Tokyo, the Russo and Mlada Quartets, the Symphony Orchestras of Leipzig, Ljubljana, ABC (Australian Radio), ALEA (Boston University), the Orchestra of the Hellenic Radio and the State Orchestra of Thessaloniki. And from its very early days, the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron) has on numerous occasions commissioned and hosted works by Kyriakos Sfetsas, performed by famous Greek and other soloists and ensembles, including the organist Daniel Chorzempa and the Camerata Orchestra.

In volume 9B of the Dictionary of World Biography, the music critic Giorgos Leotsakos notes, among other things: “No other Greek ‘avant-garde’ composer’s return to tradition was more impressive than that of Sfetsas. Before 1977, in France, he was distinguished by a sound ‘pointillisme': a marked harmonic sensitivity, with which he organized imaginative soundcolour combinations into ‘microstructures’ spread out in an imaginary sound canvas, bringing to mind the paintings of Joan Miro, who had charmed the composer at the time. (Docimology, one of his more beautiful and characteristic works, is from this period.) Chronologically, his musical turn Concert Music Slides, 1977 follows his coming home (1975): melody (tonal, modal, atonal), themes, elaboration as well as improvisation, ‘physical’ rhythms (sometimes asymmetrical and folkish), chords contradicted by unisoni, elements or inspirations from folk music (from Greece and Eastern cultures, either traditional or elaborated through ‘ethnic’ schools) and Byzantine music (his Love Song is performed by a cantor), and other codes or techniques of communication (e.g. jazz, rock). However, by replacing this ‘hermetic’ idiom with authenticated codes of communication, the music of Sfetsas expands sometimes into great lengths, and reveals a painful loneliness and a quest for the other, in which it is difficult to distinguish between the personal and the socio-environmental factors. Behind the persistence of his writing one can guess a dramatic need for communication. Despite the ruggedness of the themes and some instances of classical ‘elaboration’, the three parts of his gigantic (duration: 61’46″!) piano suite Cactus Light (’80-’83) often give the impression of one lonely pianist improvising. One of the most fascinating of his latest works is Moments of a Lonesome Town: within the aloneness and inhumanity of the modern world, the quest for the other continues, with a more emphatic lyricism. So, hope still persists.”

Orchestral

1. Situations, for symphony orchestra, 1967 Paris

2. Exposition, for symphony orchestra, el. guitar and el. bass, 1968 Paris

3. Images, for string orchestra, 1968 Paris

4. Osiris, for large symphony orchestra, el. guitars & percussion group, 1970-71 Paris

5. Concert Music Slides, double concert for Violin, Piano and orchestra, 1977 Athens  (Commissioned by violonist Spiros Rantos)

6. Sounding of present and future, for Oboe, Viola, Chamber orchestra and multi media (optonally) action,  1986 Athens (Commissioned by 1st International Patras Festival)  World premiere July 1986 at the old Patras Castle by “Bolshoi Soloists” under Alexandre Lazarev

7. Colours in double, for folk clarinet and Chamber orchestra, 1988 Athens (Commissioned by composer Theodore Antoniou) World premiere August 1988 at  Herakleion (Crete) festival by Vassilis Soukas folk clarinet and ALEA Boston University orchestra
under Th. Antoniou)

8. Concerto, for Tuba or Trombone and orchestra, 1988-89 Athens (Commissioned by Hellenic National Radio) World premiere July 1990 at Athens Festival by Yannis Zouganellis tubist and the Hellenic Radio Symphony Orchestra under Euthymios Kavalieratos)

9. Midnight music, for Violin and String orchestra: 6, 6, 4, 4, 2, 1992 Athens

10. Four in a game, symphony concerto for 4 brass: (horn, trumpet, trombone, Tuba) and large orchestra, 1993 Athens (Commissioned by O.M.M.A. the Athens Concert Hall Organization)

11. Greek Mass, for 4 Soli (S.A.T.B.), mixed choir and orchestra, 1995-97 Athens (poetry libretto by the composer) on verses by: Hesiodos, Hermes Trismegistos, Psalm RK’ 120, Genesis from Ancient Testament,  Vassilios the Great, Andreas of Crete, Plato, Skythinos of Tea, Kratis of Thebes, Palladas of  Alexandria, Andreas Kalvos, Miltos Sachtouris, Kleitos Kyrou, Hector Kaknavatos, Lefteris Poulios) (Commissioned by the Organisme “Thessaloniki 1997 Cultural Capital of Europe”)

12. The wind of my unknown soul, fantasia concertante for Vcello and string orchestra: 4, 4, 3, 3, 1, 1997 Athens World premiere December 2000 at Megaron (Athens Concert Hall) by Renato Ripo cellist and CAMERATA the “Friends of Music Society” orchestra under Alexandros Murat

13. Songs of lonely days, for plucked string orchestra, 2000 Lefkas Commissioned by DEPAP: Patras Municipality Cultural Association (Dedicated to Thanassis Tsipinakis)

14. Concerto, for Piano and Orchestra, 2000-2001 Lefkas (Dedicated to pianist Anastassios Pappas)

Chamber Music

1. Docimologie, for 13 players: ( 2 Fl (+2 Picc), Ob, Bsn, C Tpt, 2 Perc, El. Gtr, Pno, Vln, Vla, Vcl, Db), 1969 Paris

2. Formes d’ absence, for 13 players: (Picc, Bass Cl, El. Gtr, El. Bass, Vcl, 2 Db, 3 Vibr & Perc), 1969 Paris

3. String Quartet, No 0, 1969-70 Paris (training and apprenticeship work)

4. Sequences Picturales, for 19 players: (Fl+Picc, Ob, 2 Cl, Bsn, Hrn, Tpt+Picc tpt, 2 Trb, Tba, 2 Perc, Pno, El. Org, 2 Vln, Vla, Vcl, Db), 1971 Paris

5. Extrapolation, for 5 amplified instruments: (Trb, El. Gtr, Vln, Vla, Vcl), 1972 Paris

6. Ba-Ka-Akh, for 6 percussion players, 1972-73 Paris

7. Taqsim, for Vcello and Piano, 1974-75 Paris

8. Eight Miniatures, for Vcello and Bassoon, 1977 Athens

9. Double Image, for Violin and Piano, 1984 Athens

10. Music for a dance dream, for 15 players: (Ob, Cl, Bass cl, Bsn, Hrn, Tpt, Trb, 2 Perc, El. Pno, 2 Vln, Vla, Vcl, Db), 1985 Athens

11. Four pieces, for 2 Pianos (inspired by Aldous Huxley The doors of perception), 1986 Athens

12. Moments of a lonesome town, for 6 players: (Fl, Cl, Vln, Vla, Perc, Pno) 1986 Athens (Commissioned by Group “Symmolpa”)

13. String Quartet, No 1, 1987 Athens (Dedicated to Marcos Sfetsas)

14. Duo, (Remembrance), for Soprano sax and Piano, 1989 Athens (Dedicated to Philippos Vlachos)

15. Brassy sound, for Trombone and Piano, 1989 Athens

16. Cello sonata, (blue tint) for Violoncello and Piano, 1990 Athens (Dedicated to Olga Sfetsas)

17. Fiction moments, for C Trumpet and Piano, 1994 Athens

18. Blue Orient, for Viola and Piano, 1994 Athens

19. Desert flowers, for female voice and 12 instruments: (Folk Cl+Ten sax, Fl+sopr sax, Tpt, Trb, 2 Perc, Pno, Db & String quartet,
1994 Athens (Commissioned by O.M.M.A. the Athens Concert Hall Organization)

20. Soneto la rosa, poetry by Dionyssios Solomos (from his early Italian poems) for female voice, Vln, Vcl and Pno, 1994 Athens

21. Trio, for Violin, Alto sax and Piano, 1994 Athens

22. Oblivion, poetry by Lorentzos Mavilis, for female voice and 4 players: (Tpt, Vln, Vla, Pno), 1995 Athens

23. Concertino, for Piano and Strings: (4, 4, 3, 3, 1), 1996 Athens (Dedicated to Marcos Sfetsas)

24. Concertino, for Violin and Piano, 1996 Athens (Dedicated to Olga Sfetsas)

25. Time of beauty, for Vcello and Piano, 1997 Ahtens

26. Lost memories, for Soprano sax and Piano, 1997 Athens (in memoriam Kostas Yanoulopoulos)

27. The three faces of November, for Saxophone Quartet, 1998 Athens

28. Rev bows, for 6 Violoncellos, 1999 Athens

29. Night message, for Violin and Piano, 2000 Lefkas

30. Veneration thoughts, for 13 players: (Picc, Bass Cl, Sop. Sax, Ten. Sax, C Tpt, Trb, 2 Perc,Strings: 2, 1, 1, 1), 2002 Lefkas  (in memoriam Max Deutsch)

Vocal

1. Artefact, (onomatopoetic text) for Baryton, Bass and amplified ensemble: (Perc, Pno, Vcello, Dbass), 1971 Paris World premiere 1971 at the “Theatre de la Cite Universitaire” in Paris (Mario Haniotis bass, Spiros Sakkas baryton and instrumental ensemble  under professor Max Deutsch)

2. Love Song, on a poem by byzantine poet Makedonios Ypatus, for tenor (chanter) and 5 instruments:  (Fl, Cl, Vln, Vcl, Db), 1978 Athens  (Commissioned by Greek Society of Contemporary Music)

3. God forsakes Antony, poetry by C.P. Cavafy, for Mezzosoprano and mixed Choir a capella, 1979 Athens

4. Sacred way, poetry by Angelos Sikelianos for mezzo (or Tenor) and piano, 1981 Athens  World premiere, August 1981 at Nydri Lefkas (Thanos Petrakis tenor, Nelly Semitekolo piano)

5. The City, poetry by C.P. Cavafy, for Mezzosoprano, mixed Choir, String Orchestra, 7 Brass: (3 Tpt, 3 Trb, Tba)  and 2 Perc: (Timp, T-Tam), 1984 Athens (Recorded on the Third Radio Program on February 1985, Anne-Marie Muhle mezzo, Hellenic Choir & Symphony orchestra under Dimitri Chorafas)

6. Paysage, 5 songs on Miltos Sachtouris poetry, for Mezzosoprano and Piano, 1984 Athens World premiere Radio transmission at 1984 by France Musique (ORTF) (Marcella Hadjiano mezzo, Danae Cara piano)

7. Damocrates, poetry by Straton for mixed Choir a cappela, 1987 Athens (Written for and performed at Karditsa’s International Choir Festival)

8. To the Muses, poetry by Andreas Kalvos, for female voice and 5 instruments: (Fl, Vln, Vcl, Pno, Perc), 1992 Athens (Commissioned by the “House of Fine Arts & Letters) for the 200 years  commemoration of poet’s birth). World premiere December 16, 1992 at the Athens National Gallery by Savina Yannatou voice and Instrumental ensemble conducted by Alkis Baltas

9. Four songs, (in english) poetry by Charles Cotton for female voice and piano, 1989 Athens (Commissioned by Theodore Antoniou & Southeastern American College) World premiere, July 12, 1989 in “Rematia” theatre at Halandri (Susan Lambert soprano, Takis Farazis piano)

10. Five miniature songs, poetry by Yannis Negrepontis, for voice and piano, 1990 ÁèÞíá Written for the TV emission “Peregrinations” directed by Yorgos Emirzas  Performed by Spiros Sakkas baryton and Yorgos Couroupos piano

11. Ionian Lyre, poetry by Aristoteles Valaoritis, for female voice and String Orchestra: (4, 4, 3, 3, 1 or 8, 8, 6, 6, 2),  1994 Athens (Commissioned by Lefkas Municipality, a tribute to composer’s work.  World premiere August Sunday 7, 1994 at the Lefkas Castle

12. Desert flowers, for female voice and 12 instruments: (Folk Cl+Ten sax, Fl+Sopr sax, Tpt, Trb, 2 Perc, Pno, Db  and String Quartet), 1994 Athens  (Commissioned by O.M.M.A. the Athens Concert Hall Organization) World premiere January 28, 1995 at the Athens Concert Hall (Irini Karayanni voice, Thanassis Zervas folk clarinet + ten.sax, David Lynch flute + sopr.sax  and instrumental ensemble under Miltos Logiadis)

13. Soneto la rosa, poetry by Dionyssios Solomos (from his early “Italian Poems”), for female voice  and Vln, Vcl, Pno, 1994 Athens World premiere in Patras “Apollon” Municipal theatre on 1995  (Irini Karayanni voice and Trio: Vladislav Halapsis violin, Marina Kishlitsina vcello, Alla Halapsis piano)

14. Oblivion, poetry by Lorentzos Mavilis, for female voice and 4 instruments: (Tpt, Vln, Vcl, Pno), 1995 Athens (Commissioned by Patras University and Topalis Foundation) World premiere in Patras “Apollon” Municipal theatre on 1995

Solo Instrumental

1. Episodes, for Piano solo, 1968-69 Paris

2. Improvisation, for amplified Flute solo, 1969 Paris

3. Strophes, for Guitar solo, 1973 Paris

4. In the stream of the sun, Book I (Children’s magic world), for Piano solo, 1980-81 Athens

5. Three ballads, for Piano solo, 1986 Athens

6. Piano sonata, for Piano solo, 1990-91 Athens (dedicated to Sophia Sfetsas)

7. In the stream of the sun, Book II (Children’s magic world), for Piano solo, 1993 Athens

8. Four dimensions on a Lefkas landscape, for Piano solo, 2000 Lefkas

Ensembles

1. String Quartet, No 0, 1969-70 Paris (training and apprenticeship work)

2. Extrapolation, for 5 amplified instruments: (Trb, El. Gtr, Vln, Vla, Vcl), 1972 Paris

3. Ba-Ka-Akh, for 6 percussion players, 1972-73 Paris

4. Taqsim, for Vcello and Piano, 1974-75 Paris

5. Eight Miniatures, for Vcello and Bassoon, 1977 Athens

6. Double Image, for Violin and Piano, 1984 Athens

7. Four pieces, for 2 Pianos (inspired by Aldous Huxley The doors of perception), 1986 Athens

8. Moments of a lonesome town, for 6 players: (Fl, Cl, Vln, Vla, Perc, Pno) 1986 Athens
(Commissioned by Group “Symmolpa”)

9. String Quartet, No 1, 1987 Athens
(Dedicated to Marcos Sfetsas)

10. Desert flowers, for female voice and 12 instruments: (Folk Cl+Ten sax, Fl+sopr sax, Tpt, Trb, 2 Perc, Pno, Db & String quartet,
1994 Athens (Commissioned by O.M.M.A. the Athens Concert Hall Organization)

11. Soneto la rosa, poetry by Dionyssios Solomos (from his early Italian poems) for female voice, Vln, Vcl and Pno, 1994 Athens

12. Trio, for Violin, Alto sax and Piano, 1994 Athens

13. Oblivion, poetry by Lorentzos Mavilis, for female voice and 4 players: (Tpt, Vln, Vla, Pno), 1995 Athens

14. The three faces of November, for Saxophone Quartet, 1998 Athens

15. Rev bows, for 6 Violoncellos, 1999 Athens

16. September days, for Tenor saxophone and Brass quintet, 2002 Lefkas

Scores

  • Blue Orient for Viola and Piano, 1st Part. [Download]
  • Docimology for Instrumental Ensemble (13 players). [Download]
  • Songs of lonely days for Plucked String Orchestra. [Download]
  • The three faces of November for Saxophone Quartet. [Download]
  • Fiction moments for C Trumpet and Piano. [Download]
  • Concerto for Piano and Symphony Orchestra. [Download]
  • The wind of my unknown soul for Violoncello and String Orchestra. [Download]
  • Four pieces for 2 Pianos. [Download]
  • Time of Beauty for Violoncello& Piano. [Download]
  • Veneration Thoughts for Instrumental Ensemble (13 players). [Download]
  • Lost Memories for Soprano Sax.& Piano. [Download]
  • Duo (Remeberance) for Soprano Sax.& Piano. [Download]
  • Night Message for Violin & Piano. [Download]
  • Midnight Music for Violin & String Orchestra. [Download]
  • Four Dimensions of a Lefkas Landscape for solo Piano. [Download]
  • Love Song for Voice & Instrumental Ensemble. [Download]
  • Ionian Motion for Percussion Quartet. [Download]
  • Trio for Sax, Violin & Piano. [Download]
  • September Days for Tenor Sax.& Brass Quintet. [Download]

Reviews

  • None
  • Giorgos Leotsakos,
  • Giorgos Leotsakos,
  • Nikos Dontas,
  • Giorgos Charonitis,
  • Dimitrios K. Katsoudas,
  • Christos Tsanakas,
  • Aleka Symeonidou,

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Contact

Kyriakos Sfetsas
Aspogerakata, Sfakiotes
Lefkada Island, 31100
Greece
Tel.: +30.2645061163
Mob.: 6974200235
Email: ksfetsas@gmail.com




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