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French Images of Greek Music from Mikis Theodorakis to Chris Marker: Notions of Heritage and Multiple Identities

This paper examines the reception of Greek music in France from the 1960s through the 1980s to illustrate how the understanding of Greek musical identity has changed in both countries. Under the influence of musicologists such as Théodore Reinach, Maurice Emmanuel, and Hubert Pernot, Greek music was linked with antiquity and popular traditions during the first part of the twentieth century. Howewer, in the 1960s the bouzouki emerged as the symbol of Greek music in France, becoming part of the “folklore planétaire,” described by the sociologist Edgar Morin in 1965. In a parallel development, the idea of New Greek music, mainly associated with Hatzidakis and Theodorakis, spread widely in France thanks to performers from Dalida to Jean Ferrat. Later, in the 1970s and 80s, musicologists and writers (Aris Fakinos, Jacques Lacarrière, Simha Arom) became interested in rebetiko, leading them to attempt to change the perception of Greek music in France once again. As a final stage, this survery considers an episode of Chris Marker’s 1987 documentary, L'héritage de la chouette. Dedicated to the word “Music”, the episode in question presents the music of Iannis Xenakis and Angélique Ionatos, two composers who had settled in France, as representative of modern Greek musical identity.