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date: 28 February 2021

Sakellaridēs, Iōannēs Theophrastoufree

  • Katy Romanou

Updated in this version

updated and revised, 13 January 2015

(b Litochōro, Pieria, Greece [then, Ottoman Empire], 1854; d Athens, Greece, December 15, 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), Sakellaridēs 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 Geōrgios Mistriōtēs, founder in 1876 of the Hetaireia pros diadosin tōn archaiōn dramatōn (Society for the Dissemination of Ancient Dramas), Sakellaridēs 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, Antigonē, and Theophrastos (who, beginning in the 1910s, would rise to fame for his operettas), Sakellaridēs performed on stage his and Theophrastos’s adaptations and compositions, adorned with his imitations of bird voices. On November 1903 all four embarked on a European tour. Two concerts were given in Munich, but Antigonē’s sudden illness obliged them to return to Athens (where Antigonē died).


(selective list)

Octōēchos (Athens, 1888)

Melopoiïa tōn chorikōn kai kommōn tēs Antigonēs tou Sophokleous [Music composed for […] Sophocles’s Antigone] (Athens, 1896)

Hiera Hymnōdia [Sacred hymnody], 3 vols. (Athens, 1902)

Hagiopolitēs (Athens, 1905)

Tyrtaios (Athens, 1907)

Hymnoi kai Ōdai en triphōnō symphōnia [Hymns and odes in three-part harmony] (Athens, 1909)

Hymnoi kai Ōdai (Athens, 1930)


  • K.D. Kalokyrēs: Ho mousourgos Iōannēs Th. Sakellaridēs kai hē byzantinē mousikē [The composer Iōannēs T. Sakellaridēs and Byzantine music] (Thessalonika, 1988)
  • G. Philopoulos: Eisagōgē stēn hellēnikē polyphōnikē ekklēsiastikē mousikē [Introduction to Greek polyphonic ecclesiastical music] (Athens, 1990)
  • K. Rōmanou: Ethnikēs Mousikēs Periēgēsis, 1901–1912. Hellēnika mousika periodika ōs pēgē ereunas tēs historias tēs neohellēnikēs mousikēs [Wandering national music, 1901–1912 (…) Greek music periodicals], 2 vols. (Athens, 1996)
  • T. Kalogeropoulos: To Lexiko tēs Hellēnikēs Mousikēs, apo ton Orphea ōs sēmera [Dictionary of Greek music (…)], 7 vols. (Athens, 1998)