[Den potho tin idoni/ I am not longing for pleasure], Korinthios, Zosef, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC

In the first decades of the 20th century and mainly during the Athenian bell époque period (1900-1920), a new song genre is being created, the 'Athenian Song'.

[To sterno mou sou stelno tragoudi/ I am sending you my last song] , Alvanas, Leonidas, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, Public Domain Mark
[To sterno mou sou stelno tragoudi/ I am sending you my last song] , Alvanas, Leonidas, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, Public Domain Mark

Composers such as Dimitrios Rodios, Timotheos Xanthopoulos and Nikolaos Kokkinos, wrote melodies that were loved by the world, while poets such as Ioannis Polemis, Georgios Drosinis and Alexandros Rangavis wrote original Greek lyrics, praising joy, love and nature.

[Moda/Fashion], Kokkinos, Nikolaos, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC
[Moda/Fashion], Kokkinos, Nikolaos, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC

For the first time the Greek song, combining Italian influences with folk elements, began to shape its own identity and became popular. The two main types were an Italian canzonetta-style and the 'kantada', which actually was a polyphonic song.

[Magissa/Witch], Xanthopoulos, Timotheos, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC
[Magissa/Witch], Xanthopoulos, Timotheos, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC

In those years, a new type of entertainment, The Athenian Variété, became extremely popular. Composers like Theofrastos Sakellarides, Grigoris Konstantinides, Lola Votti, Attic (Kleon Triantafyllou) were the main representatives of this new genre that mixes music, songs and theatrical sketches.

[Mia gynaika perase/ A woman passed], Konstantinides, Grigoris, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC
[Mia gynaika perase/ A woman passed], Konstantinides, Grigoris, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC

The songs included in this type of variété were deeply influenced by western equivalents. This meant that audiences had the opportunity to be introduced in European popular music (a mixture of cabaret, operetta and variété music). In this case, publications of foreign songs in sheet music helped audiences receive them more easily.

[Ine I nichta tis Athinas/ It’s the Athenian night], Votti, Lola, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC
[Ine I nichta tis Athinas/ It’s the Athenian night], Votti, Lola, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC

This 'light music' was comprised of songs in styles that were only found in foreign countries and in genres such as tango, foxtrot, rumba, etc. Greek composers started writing their own melodies on patterns that did not have much resemblance to folk or other popular music types. Light music moved from theatre to nightclubs, bars and tavernas with music.

[Den potho tin idoni/ I am not longing for pleasure], Korinthios, Zosef, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC
[Den potho tin idoni/ I am not longing for pleasure], Korinthios, Zosef, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC