Modern Greece

Topics: Greece, Greek cuisine, Greek Orthodox Church Pages: 9 (3034 words) Published: February 5, 2011
“People can only live fully by helping others to live. When you give life to friends you truly live. Cultures can only realize their further richness by honoring other traditions. And only by respecting natural life can humanity continue to exist (“Culture Quotes”).” The culture and civilization of Greece, rooted in ancient Mycenaean and Minoan tradition, has developed over thousands of years. The Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman empires have significantly influenced modern Greek culture, but the Greek War of Independence is what has given present day Greek culture its identity. Greeks feel proud of the rich culture they have created because they see it as a depiction of their nationality and ethnicity. The location of Greece as a gateway to three continents- Europe, Asia, and Africa- has also had a remarkable impact in shaping Modern Greek culture. Furthermore, the mountainous terrain and more than 2,000 islands contribute to the strong and distinguishing cultural traditions that have developed in Greece. The assimilation of music, Greek Orthodox religion, festivals, innovations in technology and science, politics, education, and delectable cuisine compose the rich and multi-faceted culture and civilization of Modern Greece. Music

The creation and performance of music is one of the most essential activities for the human mind, body, and soul. Greece’s location has played a role in creating the uniqueness and individuality of Greek music from its position centered between oriental and occidental traditions. Occasionally, however, this combination of diverse elements has been disputed because of the rejection of Asia Minor musical forms and its presumed detrimental effect on the Greek character. Dormant for just about two milleniums, Greek music encountered a musical revival in the 19th century. Opera composers such as Nikolaos Mantzaros (1795–1872), Spyridion Xyndas (1812–96), and Spyros Samaras (1861–1917) contributed to the revival of Greek music (“Greek Music”). Café musicians created Rebetika songs during the 1920s and 1930s wars. Rebetika was the music of the urban working class. George Lembalet (1875-1945) and Manos Hadjidakis (1925-94) introduced elements of nationalism in their folklore (“Greek Music”). Serial music uses a specific order of notes as a thematic basis for a piece of music and was first introduced to Greece by Nikos Skalkottas. It was later composed by Yorgos Sicilianos and by Iannis Xenakis, who also writes electronic music (“Greek Music”).

Music and politics have been inseparably linked in Greek culture from ancient times to the present day. During times of political crisis and turmoil, debates regarding the function and effects of particular music are deemed as important as the music itself. The most notable of these debates revolved around the works of Mikis Therodorakis, likely Greece’s most popular composer during the late 20th century. His resistance to military rule in the 1960’s and 1970’s led to his imprisonment for several years and “the banning of his operas, symphonic works, film scores (most particularly for Zorba the Greek), and hundreds of songs” (“Greek Music”). He and his music became an international symbol of resistance to the dictatorship during the four years of his French exile (Holst-Warhaft, Gail). The close relationship between music and politics in Greece was focused on Athens and the large-scale public entertainment it provided. The theater, where many of the dramatic performances took place, was a part of a complex of buildings that formed the political, religious, and judicial heart of the city.

Furthermore, dance beginning in the Minoan period still remains a fundamental element of Greek culture. Dance was of importance to the Greeks because they believed it promoted physical and mental well-being and it was thus integrated into the educational system. Syrtos and Mantilia were popular folk dances of ancient Greece and these forms of dance are still performed today....
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