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date: 28 February 2021

Sakellarides, Ioannis (Theophrastou)free

  • Katy Romanou

Updated in this version

updated and revised

(b Litochoro, Pieria, Greece [then, Ottoman Empire], 1854; d Athens, Greece, 15 December 1938).Greek cantor, choral conductor, arranger of church music, music teacher, and composer. He studied philology at the University of Athens and was instructed in both Byzantine and Western music. He taught music in schools and in private lessons. From 1904 to 1907 he taught H.J.W. Tillyard the New Method of Byzantine notation.

In the controversy called ‘The Music Question’ (whether church music should preserve its monophonic texture and neumatic notation or become homophonic notated in stave notation), Sakellarides was an enthusiastic exponent of the second option. Gifted with a flexible tenor voice, he attracted large congregations in central Athenian churches, including the cathedral, performing his own versions of liturgical chant, the product of his elementary knowledge of harmony. He attracted also wrathful criticism from purists.

Collaborating with Athens University professor Georgios Mistriotis, founder in 1876 of the Etaireia pros diadosin ton archaion dramaton (‘Society for the Dissemination of Ancient Dramas’), Sakellarides wrote music for Euripides’s Alcestis, and Sophocles’s Antigone, Electra, and Oedipus at Colonus, all performed in the original language.

With his musical children, Aristoxenos, Antigone, and Theophrastos (who, beginning in the 1910s, would rise to fame for his operettas), Sakellarides performed on stage his and Theophrastos’s adaptations and compositions, adorned with his imitations of bird calls. On November 1903 all four embarked on a European tour. Two concerts were given in Munich, but Antigone’s sudden illness obliged them to return to Athens (where Antigone died).


(selective list)

Octoechos (Athens, 1888)

Melopoiia ton chorikon kai ton kommon Ifigeneias en Tavrois tou Evripidou [The Music of the Choral Parts and the Kommoi in Euripides’s Iphigenia in Tauris] (Athens, 1896)

Iera Ymnodia [Sacred Hymnody], 3 vols. (Athens, 1902)

Agiopolitis (Athens, 1905)

Tyrtaios (Athens, 1907)

Ymnoi kai Odai en trifono symfonia [Hymns and Odes in 3-part Harmony] (Athens, 1909)

Ymnoi kai Odai [Hymns and Odes] (Athens, 1930)


  • K.D. Kalokyris: O mousourgos Ioannis Th. Sakellarides kai i vyzantini mousiki [The composer Ioannis Th. Sakellarides and Byzantine music] (Thessaloniki, 1988)
  • G. Philopoulos: Eisagogi stin elliniki polyfoniki ekklisiastiki mousiki [Introduction to Greek polyphonic ecclesiastical music] (Athens, 1990)
  • K. Romanou: Ethnikis Mousikis Periigisis 1901–1912: Ellinika Mousika Periodika os Pigi Erevnas tis Istorias tis Neoellinikis Mousikis [Travels in national music, 1901–1912: Greek music journals as a research source for the history of Neohellenic music] (Athens, 1996)
  • T. Kalogeropoulos: Lexiko tis Ellinikis Mousikis: Apo ton Orfea eos Simera [Dictionary of Greek music: from Orpheus until today] (Athens, 1998)