Can surrealism sing? Nikos Gatsos and song-writing

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The presence of a text by Andre Breton in a magazine that played a central role in the dissemination of modern music in America seems, to say the least, puzzling. Dimitris Papanikolaou astutely remarks that the critical commonplace regarding Nikos Gatsos’s songs stems from a prevalent disposition in Greek criticism to distinguish sharply between ‘high’ and ‘low’. The song lyrics are an apostrophe to the French poet Arthur Rimbaud, while the music and orchestration suggest rather an imaginary conversation. The song opens with an alternation of string instruments, replaced in the 1987 recording by an explicit dialogue between piano and guitar, with the guitar softly echoing the louder melody of the piano. Guillaume Apollinaire and Breton both gave tentative answers to the challenges presented to poetry by modernity, and they both called for a new conception of the lyric. Propelling poetry into the realm of the auditive was meant to give it back its power and material heft.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMusic, Language and Identity in Greece
Subtitle of host publicationDefining a National Art Music in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781351995511
ISBN (Print)9781138280021
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


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