Jani Christou

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Jani Christou (Greek: Γιάννης Χρήστου, Giánnīs Chrī́stou; 8 or 9 January 1926 – 8 January 1970) was a Greek composer.

There is some disagreement about Christou's birth, the date of which is given by some authorities as 8 January (Lucciano 2000, xv;Leotsakos 2001), while others state 9 January (Slonimsky 1965, 227; Stewart 1999). Most sources agree that he was born in Heliopolis, Egypt, though one states he was born in Alexandria (Angermann 1994, 14), and it has recently been reported that a birth certificate has been found stating that the composer was born in Nicosia, Cyprus, though this certificate is suspected of being a forgery (Lucciano 2000, xv). His parents were Eleutherios Christou, a Greek industrialist and chocolate manufacturer, and Lilika Tavernari, of Cypriot origin (Lucciano 2000, xv). He was educated at the English School in Alexandria and he took his first piano lessons from various teachers and from the important Greek pianist Gina Bachauer. In 1948 he gained an MA in philosophy after having studied with Ludwig Wittgenstein and Bertrand Russell in King's College, Cambridge (Leotsakos 2001).

During that time he also studied music with Hans Redlich and in 1949 travelled to Rome to study orchestration with Angelo Francesco Lavagnino. He briefly attended lectures by Carl Jung in Zurich. In 1951 he returned to Alexandria where he married Theresia Horemi in 1961. He died on or the day before his 44th birthday in a car accident in Athens, Greece (Leotsakos 2001).

Main works[edit]

  • Phoenix Music (for orchestra) – 1949
  • Symphony No. 1 – 1949–50
  • Latin Liturgy – 1953
  • Six T. S. Eliot Songs (for piano or orchestra and mezzo-soprano)1955(piano)/1957(orch.)
  • Symphony No. 2 – 1957–58
  • Toccata for piano and orchestra – 1962
  • Tongues of Fire (a Pentecost oratorio) – 1964
  • Persians (Incidental music for Aeschylus' drama) – 1965
  • Agamemnon – 1965
  • Enantiodromia – 1965–68
  • The Frogs – 1966
  • Mysterion (for orchestra, tape, choir and soloists) – 1965–66
  • Praxis for 12 (for 11 string instruments and director-pianist) – 1966
  • Anaparastasis I (The Baritone) – 1968
  • Anaparastasis III (The Pianist) – 1968
  • Oedipus Rex – 1969
  • Oresteia (unfinished) – 1967–70


  • Angermann, Klaus (ed.). 1994. Jani Christou, im Dunkeln singen: Symposion Jani Christou, Hamburg, 1993. Symposionsberichte des Musikfestes Hamburg. Hofheim: Wolke, 1994. ISBN 3923997582.
  • Leotsakos, George. 2001. "Christou, Jani". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
  • Lucciano, Anna-Martine. 1987. Γιάννης Χρήστου – Έργο και Προσωπικότητα ενός Έλληνα Συνθέτη της Εποχής μας, translated into Greek and edited by Giorgos Leotsakos. Athens: Vivliosynergatike.
  • Lucciano, Anna-Martine. 2000. Jani Christou: The Works and Temperament of a Greek Composer, translated into English by Catherine Dale. Contemporary Music Studies 18. Australia and Amsterdam: Harwood Academic. New York and London: Routledge. ISBN 9057021587.
  • Slonimsky, Nicolas. 1965. "New Music in Greece". Musical Quarterly 51:225–35.

External links[edit]