Famous people

Giorgos Amargianakis



Giorgos Amargianakis was born in 1938 and grew up in the village of Anatoli at Ierapetra.


Giorgos' great interest in music and folk tradition was awakened early in his childhood. As the son of a priest, the liturgical Byzantine music came naturally to be of great importance to his life, but also the local folk music - and especially the violin player Pantelis Baritantonakis - came to influence Giorgos' further life.


After having finished school he studied theology and Byzantine music in Athens. At the beginning of the 70'ies Giorgos taught at the upper secondary school in Ierapetra and had simultaneously a job as the lead singer (protopsaltis) at the Timios Stavros Church.


In the years from 1971 until 1984 Giorgos worked at the Centre of Ethnography under the Academy of Athens, where he among other things worked at gathering and registering folk music.


Giorgos never forgot the Byzantine music, and he came to Denmark in 1973 to write his doctoral dissertation "An analysis of Stichera in the Deuteros Modes" on fixed formulas in Byzantine chants in the manuscript of "Sinai 1230" from 1365. In Denmark he worked out his manuscript under guidance of the late lecturer Joergen Raasted, and it was later published in the series of "Cahiers de L'Institut du Moyen-Âge Grec et Latin" from the University of Copenhagen (1977).


During Giorgos' two years' stay I had the great pleasure of getting to know him personally. We became close friends, and through Giorgos, who was a very inspiring teacher, I learned my first hesitant Greek. In addition to this, Giorgos contributed greatly to my growing interest of Greece and Crete in particular.



In 1984 Giorgos Amargianakis was engaged as a senior lecturer at the newly established musicology section at the University of Crete in Rethymnon, where he among many other tasks invested a gigantic work in creating a large collection of books and sounds with recordings of folk musicians from all Greece.


University of Crete in Rethymno

Simultaneously with his work at the university Giorgos was the leader of "Programme for Traditional Greek Music" under the Institute of Mediterranean Studies, where he and his group worked particularly with the Cretan folk music and its way of improvising over various themes.


In 1986 he founded the Byzantine Choir of Iraklion, which has performed several concerts as well in Greece as abroad.


In 1990 Giorgos moved to Athens, where he was engaged at the University of Athens as the first professor of musicology ever, and where he organized the newly established music section. In the same period of time Giorgos was also the leader of Fivos Anogianakis' beautiful and extremely informative Museum of Greek Popular Musical Instruments at Plaka in Athens.

Museum of Greek
Popular Musical Instruments


Giorgos Amargianakis died on July 17th 2003 after a long period of illness. Giorgos was a modest man with an eagerness in his work and a knowledge in his field, which was deeply admired by everybody who knew him. Giorgos was also a warm man, who will be missed by his friends and acquaintances.


Giorgos Amargianakis in 1998

(photo: Vivi Lund)