Greece–Music (The Fat, the Tall and the Short)


Lovers of Greek music enjoy a great vocal or instrumental performance as much as anyone else, but they maintain a particular, almost unique respect for composers. Rebetiko, laiko and éntekhno songwriters aside, three modern Greek composers have found international success, mainly due to their compositions for film:

Manos Hadzidakis, who composed music for the film, “Never on Sunday.”

Mikis Theodorakis, who composed music for the film, “Zorba the Greek,” and also for “Serpico,” and

Stavros Xarhakos, who composed music for the film, “The Red Lanterns.”

The three are commonly known as “the fat
(Hiadjidakis) “the tall
(Theodorakis) and “the short

He may not be notably fat, tall or short, but composer Vangelis Papathanasiou (perhaps, “the bearded one?“), who left Greece for Paris in the late ’60s and formed the group Aphrodite’s Child with another Greek expatriate, Demis Roussos, is more famous abroad than any of the above three. Papathanasiou became so well-known for his theme to the movie “Chariots of Fire” that he is now simply recognized as “Vangelis.” [See Aphrodite’s Child perform “I Want to Live.” (Vangelis is the guy banging on the keyboard.) Now listen to “Chariots of Fire.” Quite an evolution.] Another Greek composer who is popular outside of Greece, though more so than within his native land, is another one-named wonder, Yiannis Hrysomallis, or “Yanni.” If you’ve never seen Yanni’s 1994 performance at the Acropolis, you may be the only one.

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