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The Athens Conservatoire (Greek: Ωδείο Αθηνών) is the oldest educational institution for the performing arts in modern Greece. It was founded in 1871 as the non-profit organization "Athens Music and Drama Society".
Initially, the musical instruments that were taught there were limited to the violin and the flute, representative of the ancient Greek Apollonian and Dionysian aesthetic principles. Significantly, piano lessons were not included in the program. In 1881 its new German-taught director Georgios Nazos, in a move that was controversial at the time, expanded the conservatoire's program by introducing modern Western European-style instruments and theory material.
Among the musicians who have taught at the Athens Consevatoire are Constantine Psachos, Manolis Kalomiris, Felix Petyrek, Elvira de Hidalgo. Notables who were taught at Athens Consevatoire include Spyridon Samaras (1875–1882), Maria Callas (1938), Dimitri Mitropoulos (1919), Nikos Skalkottas (graduated 1920), Gina Bachauer (graduated 1929), Mikis Theodorakis, Dimitris Sgouros, Loukas Karytinos.
The first Drama School in Greece was also founded in 1871 on the premises, with many prominent theater personalities were included in its reaching staff, such as: Aimilios Veakis, Dimitris Rontiris, Kostas Mousouris, Dimitris Myrat and others.
The Athens Conservatoire is located on Rigillis Street and Vasileos Konstantinou Avenue. The building's facade measures 160 meters the whole building is 13,000 square meters in size. It is an exceptional example of the Bauhaus school and the modern movement in Greece. Designed by the Greek architect Ioannis Despotopoulos (also known as Jan Despo), the only Greek to have studied under Bauhaus school founder Walter Gropius, the Conservatory is the only completed part of an ambitious large-scale cultural complex commissioned in 1959 by the then government for Athens, for which he earned the top architectural prize of its time. The construction begun in 1969 and stopped in 1976, due to a lack of funding, leaving the building unfinished. In 1980, the Greek state undertook the cost of completing the work in exchange for ownership of the conservatory’s old headquarters on Pireos Street..
Despotopoulos' complete proposal for the Athens Cultural Center involved remodeling the space that stretches from Vassilissis Sofias Avenue to Vasileos Konstantinou Avenue, and from Rigillis Street all the way to the National Gallery, spanning an area of nearly 150,000 square meters. According to Despotopoulos' archives on file at the Modern Greek Architecture section of the Benaki Museum, in addition to the Athens Conservatory, his plan foresaw the construction of an 1,800-seat opera house, a circular theater, an extension to the National Gallery, a new Byzantine Museum, a Byzantine-style church, a hotel, a hall for classical dance performances and the state orchestra, a playhouse for experimental theater, underground garages and more.
In 2016 the Athens Conservatory entered a new chapter. A particular space, located in the first basement area of the building, was refurbished and used for the first time since construction. With a donation from NEON Organisation, founded by the collector and businessman Dimitris Daskalopoulos, this area was completely transformed into an exhibition space which also contains a small theatre stage.
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- "NEON Greece Founder Funds New Athens Cultural Space | artnet News". artnet News. 2016-09-20. Retrieved 2018-03-22.
- Genadiev, Lianopoulos Manos firstname.lastname@example.org, Venelin. "Articles - ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW - Athens Conservatory". www.greekarchitects.gr. Retrieved 2018-03-22.
- "Basement of Athens Conservatory undergoes striking partial facelift, Margarita Pournara | Kathimerini". Retrieved 2018-03-22.
- "Despotopoulos Ioannis (1903 - 1992) - Benaki Museum". www.benaki.gr. Retrieved 2018-03-22.
- "Athens Conservatory: A well-kept urban secret, Margarita Pournara | Kathimerini". Retrieved 2018-03-22.
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