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He was born in Platanoussa, Epirus in 1914 and studied the violin from 1930 to 1939 at the Greek National Conservatory in Athens. Later on, he switched to the viola and from 1949 started composition lessons with Leonidas Zoras and Manolis Kalomiris, receiving his diploma in 1955.
He is considered one of the most important modern Greek composers, with a personal musical idiom that is both mature and laconic. Influenced by the musical traditions of Greece (in particular the ones of his native Epirus) and ancient Greek drama, his music also came to reflect his interest in new techniques such as free atonality, novel instrumental combinations, post-modernism, minimalism and electronic music.
He won a number of major prizes, including the Maria Callas award from the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation in 1997 and the prestigious J. A. Papaioannou award from the Athens Academy in 1999.
He taught violin and later on theory at the Greek National Conservatory for twenty years, until he was appointed vice president of the conservatory in 1997.
He played for twenty years in the Greek National Opera as a violist and later served on the board of the Athens State Orchestra. He was vice president and honorary president of the Greek Composers Union.
He died in Athens aged 87.
- Lyric Sketches (Λυρικά σκίτσα) for string orchestra (1958)
- Symphony No. 1 (1959)
- Symphony No. 2 (1960)
- Symphony No. 3 (1964)
- Symphony No. 4 (1966)
- Symphony No. 5 (1979–1980)
- Memories (Μνήμες) (1981–1982)
- Symphony No. 6 (1989)
- Symphony No. 7 (1994–1995; incomplete)
- Prelude (Πρελούδιο) (1997)
- Concerto for clarinet and strings (1962)
- Concerto for horn and chamber orchestra (1965)
- Adagio for solo viola, string orchestra and piano (1969)
- Concerto for violin and orchestra (1969)
- Concerto for cello and orchestra (1972)
- Concerto for oboe and strings (1973)
- Concerto for piano and orchestra (1975–1977)
- Concerto for tuba and orchestra (1978)
- Concerto for viola and orchestra (1992)
- Concerto for saxophone and orchestra (1997)
- Chamber music
- String Quartet No. 1 (1957)
- String Quartet No. 2 (1958)
- Sonata No. 1 for violin and piano (1958)
- String Quartet No. 3 (1960)
- Trio for 2 violins and viola (1960)
- Sonata No. 2 for violin and piano (1961)
- Trio for oboe, clarinet and bassoon (1962)
- Trio for horn, trumpet and trombone (1963)
- Woodwind Quintet (1964)
- Trio for violin, viola and cello (1965)
- String Quartet No. 4 (1967)
- Music for Three (Μουσική για τρεις) for viola, horn, piano (1969)
- Duo for violin and piano (1971)
- String Quartet No. 5 (1974)
- Duo for clarinet and piano (1981)
- Duo for viola and piano (1984)
- Duo for violin and guitar (1984)
- Sonata for cello and piano (1985)
- Trio for clarinet, piano and percussion (1986)
- Dragatakis: Piano Works (complete) (Naxos 8.570789)
- Ballades for saxophone and orchestra (along with works by Tomasi, Ravel, Piazzola and Iturralde) (Naxos 8.557454)