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date: 13 November 2019

Vlachopoulos, Jannis [Yannis]free

  • George Leotsakos
  • , revised by Costas Tsougras

(b Piraeus, Greece, 8 March 1939).Greek composer. He studied composition with Y.A. Papaioannou at the Hellenic Conservatory, Athens (1960–65), and with B.A. Zimmermann and H. Eimert (electronic music) at the Cologne Musikhochschule (1966–9). From 1965 to 1966 he attended courses given by O. Messiaen and J. Wildberger at the Hochschule für Musik, Karlsruhe. In 1970 he began teaching theory, composition, and the piano at the Städtische Musikschule, Hürth. He has also taught at the Robert Schumann Institut (RSI) of the Staatlichen Hochschule für Musik in Düsseldorf.

Beginning with 12-note serial writing (3 kleine Klavierstücke, 1964; Duo, 1965), Vlachopoulos subjected other elements to serial procedures in Anamniseis (‘Memories’, 1967), a piece of subtle timbral and rhythmic interplay, and then turned to chance procedures (Spiegel, 1968–9) and an idiosyncratic type of music theatre in works which denounce the inhumanity of technological society with a poetic nostalgia for the past (Dialexi-synthesi, 1971–2; Arnisis, 1975). Many of his later compositions present a kaleidoscopic yet intensely dramatic succession of shifting aural impressions. They often originate from an initial statement – such as a motif, a rhythm, or a focal pitch – which gradually becomes a source of musical energy, its proliferation creating further harmonic implications, varieties of tone-colour, and rhythmic interplay. His mature works also often feature leading melodic lines supported by evocative orchestration, alluding to the ritualistic ambience of ancient Greek tragedy (Symposion, 1977–8, after Plato). Several of his instrumental or vocal works are inspired by Byzantine hymnology and orthodox spirituality. In Patmios esperinos (‘Patmos Vespers’, 1989–90) initial expectations of a sober musical conception, liturgical and static, are thwarted by a powerful build-up of emotion and drama.



Spiegel (mt, textless), S, Mez, Bar, 12 inst, 1968–9

Dialexi-synthesi [Lecture-Composition] (mt, textless), 3 nar-actors, 2 dancers, pf, perc, synth, tape, 1971–2

Behaviorism (op, J. Vlachopoulos), 1973, inc.

Figuren (ballet), fl, cl, tpt, pf, hpd, perc, vc, 1976–7

Vernissage (ballet), tape, 1977–8

Mrs Stone (ballet), 1979–81

L’étoile de mer (film score for the 1927 silent movie by Man Ray), 2 perc, pf, 1980

Die Mitternachtssonne (op, M. Vlachopoulou), 2014–15


Symposion, timp, orch, 1977–8 [after Plato]

Rue des pas oubliés, str qt, mar, orch, 1983

Quantum, 1984–5

Monolithos, large orch, 1985–6

Magma, mar, orch, 1986–7

L’étoile de mer, pf, perc, small orch, 1981


Morfes II (textless), male v, ob, elec org, perc, vc, 1974

Arnisis [Negation] (textless), male v, ob, vc, elec org, pf, cel, perc, 1975

Sappho (27 frags. in Gk. and Ger. trans.), Mez, fl, perc, pf + cel, 1981–3

Stachya [Ears of Corn] (N. Vrettakos), Mez, pf, 1989

Patmios esperinos [Patmos Vespers] (Pss ciii, cxl, cxli, cxvi), nar, A, small orch, 1989–90

Abendmahl (Bible: Luke, Matthew, John), mixed chorus, orch, 1991–2

4 Orphica (Orphic hymns), mixed chorus, pf, 2 perc, 1994–8

7 Fragmente aus ‘Sappho’, fl, pf, perc, female chorus, 1996

Entoli Kaini [New Order] (after a Byzantine theme by I. Giamaios), T, Bar, children chorus, fl, gui, elec piano, 2012

Asmatikon Megalou Savvatou [Holy Saturday Hymn] (after a Byzantine hymn by G. Akropolitis), Bar, 2 fl, ob, cl, 2 hn, b trbn, perc, 4 gui, vn, va, vc, db, 2013–14


Meditation, vn, pf, 1963

3 kleine Klavierstücke, pf, 1964, 1974, rev. 1975

Fantasia, 11 insts, pf, 1964

Trio, ob, vc, hp, 1965

Duo, fl, pf, 1965

3 Ideen, vc, pf, 1966

Anamniseis [Memories], cl, b cl, elec gui, perc, vn, vc, 1967

Skepseis [Thoughts], pf, 1977

Aries [Arias], fl, cl, tuba, vn, vc, db, pf, 1978

Psalmen I, II, 4 perc, 1988–9

Trio, fl, vc, pf, 1991

Sacré-coeur, pf, 1993

Trigon, 3 vc, 1996

Saxophonie, sax qt, 1997

Präsens, pf, 6 perc, 1999–2000


Permutationen, tape, 1967

Morfes I, tape, 1970

Conc., pf, tape, 1973

Morfes III, tape, 1973–4

Adiexodos [Deadlock], pf, 2 perc, tape, 1977

Principal publishers: Forberg, Gravis


  • A. Symeonidou: Lexiko Ellinon Syntheton [Dictionary of Greek composers] (Athens, 1995), 74–5