Panos Vlagopoulos (Ionian University, Stanley J. Seeger Visiting Research Fellow, Hellenic Studies)
Respondent: Scott Burnham, Department of Music
'Hybridity' refers to the politics of problematizing the two poles of any given opposition, aiming at the emergence of a new pole, a tertium quid. In the case of Cavafy such pairs would be: European vs. Oriental, Greek vs. Others, mainland vs. diaspora Greeks, demotic vs. katharevousa, poetic vs. prosaic, to name but a few. Mitropoulos’s choice to set fourteen of the canonical Cavafy poems to music (Ten Inventions) might have had its motivation not merely in the perception of a shared modernism, but in his realization of the importance of Cavafy’s life-and-work project to his own ones as a young homosexual composer; as well as of the eminent role in it of hybridity. If this be so, nothing could serve better Mitropoulos’s task in hand than the Sprechgesang technique, itself a hybrid between speaking and singing, recently sanctioned by Schoenberg and Berg (his compositional heroes). Cavafy’s politics of hybridity in diction, verse technique, and subject is echoed in the musical style, vocal technique, and musical reference of the Inventions. However, hybridity in Cavafy was the means of a remarkable life and work integration, one responsible for the poet’s universality; not so in Mitropoulos. Cavafy’s explicitly full-hearted affirmation of the Mitropoulos settings, more than attesting to the poet’s modernism, was related to the former’s enthusiasm of finding in the latter a younger comrade-in-arms in art and life.
Panagiotis Vlagopoulos studied Law at the Democritus University of Thrace, and Musicology in Basel and Corfu. He completed his PhD in the historiography of Ars nova under the supervision of Irmgard Lerch in 2004. He has worked as a Head of Acquisitions at the Music Library Lilian Voudouri in the Athens Megaron (1995-2003). He has published on Jani Christou, Wittgenstein and music, and on ideology in Modern Greek music. He teaches (since 2004) at the Department of Music Studies of the Ionian University in Greece.