Urban centres

The tradition of the mandolin in Athens seems to have begun at the end of the 19th century with the establishment of the Athenian mandolin orchestra. It continues today, with the mandolin playing an important role in the works of most modern Greek composers, giving a particular colour and style to their songs.

Mainly from the late 1880s there were observed mandolin teachers, who founded private schools and gave mandolin and guitar concerts in Greece. The dissemination of mandolin in the same period was also indicated by the number of advertisements appearing in the newspapers for sales the instruments of mandolin lessons. Indeed, the mandolin and the family of instruments are extremely popular in Europe and America. In Italy, even amateur mandolin players knew great popularity in the last two decades of the 19th century. The great development of the mandolin justifies the existence of several plucked orchestras in that period in Greece. For example, a famous mandolin orchestra in that era called ‘Spanish Estountiantina’ gave concerts in Athens in April 1886


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Finally, in light of female participation, it seems that all orchestras consisted only of men, as there are no references that support the opposite view. The first appearance of a women’s orchestra was likely to affect the orchestra of the Athenian mandolinata in the early 20th century. The first references to learning mandolin and guitar by women dated from 1905, with Foteini Vlavianou first to graduate from the school of Athenian Mandolinatas in 1909.Some of these students possibly participated in the first decade of the 20th century in the school of Mandolin orchestra.

Based on the historical events that influenced and shaped the usage and repertoire of mandolin in Athens, it would be right to divide this tradition into two periods. The first period dated from the end of the 19th century when the first mandolin orchestra was established in Athens and the tradition of ‘establishing mandolin orchestras’ began, until 1940, when the mandolin was dissolved and the same period coincided with the beginning of the dictatorship in Greece. The second period began after the dictatorship, around 1950, when the tradition of the mandolin was over, while the modern composers with the first and the main Manos Hatzidakis bring the mandolin back to the spot, exploited it in a special way in their works.

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