Nikolaos Skalkottas (1904-1949), the 36 (39) Greek Dances.                                                                                                                            © Daan Admiraal 2011.                                                                     
 
Some of the 36 Greek Danses of Skalkottas will have the same direct appeal to the listner as Brahms' Hungarian Dances (1869), Dvořák's Slavonic Dances opus 46 (1878) and opus 72 (1886), or Borodin's Polovtsian Dances from the opera Prince Igor (1890) to mention some of the most famous examples of orchestral dances. Skalkottas' Greek Danses were composed much later (1934-36) than their famous forrunners, but unlike Kodály's Dances of Galánta (1933) from the same period they never gained the same worldwide popularity. The Greek Dances remain seldom performed.
There are some reasons for this neglection. The most plausible argument is the nearly complete isolation of Skalkottas in Greece after his return from Berlin in 1933. He lived there far from the musical centres and the Greek musical establishment had no appetite for his post-Schoenbergian idiom. The majority of his works remained unheared and unpublished. After his death in 1949 many of his manuscripts were lost or destroyed. It was only after his death that Skalkottas' music began to be played, published and estimated, partly due to the efforts of friends and disciples.
Some of the Greek Dances have more exeptional compositorial qualities that never will make them suitable for use as 'music for the millions'. But even his easy to listen Greek Dances didn't help to give them a wider appreciation. An important reason for their neglect was the unavailability of the complete orchestral material -  the only available scores were 2 sets Griechische Tänze (Universal Edition, Walter Goehr, 1965). These 2 sets (5&6 dances) were a selections of 11 dances from the complete list of 36.
Financial support of the Ford Foundation finally created the possibility of the publication of the remaining dances in the '90s. For this edition (his own Margun Music Edition) Gunther Schuller selected  all dances that remained unpublished by Universal Edition. There are 5 sets of scores available. The 2 earlier mentioned UE-sets of Greek Dances I&II (Universal Edition, Walter Goehr) and the 3 sets of Greek Dances (Margun Music, Gunther Schuller). Both selections (Universal Edition: 1-5&6-11) and Margun Edition: Suite I, II, III) are fully complementary. Both editions are listed in the table underneath. Beside this 36 dances 3 alternative versions of dances II/8, II/9; III/6 (1949) exist. That makes the total amount of dances 39.
 
The small recording history of the Greek Dances also gives us insight in the disappointing negative reactions of the recording companies. John G. Deacon, former director of EMI Greece and founder of Conifer Records, writes how he tried to convince the companies of the famous labels to record the Greek Dances: Nobody was interested ! Not Decca, nor Chandos, nor Hyperion, and not even EMI. Naxos declined. In 1988 the first complete performance of the 36 Greek Dances took place in Rio de Janeiro, conducted by Byron Fidetzis, who in 1990 also conducted the world premiere recording. In 2002 for the first time the complete set of 36+3 dances was recorded, conducted by Nikos Christodoulou with the BBC Symphony Orchestra (BIS CD-1333/1334). This is a beautiful recording with a highly informative CD-booklet written with loving care by Mr.Christodoulou himself.
 
36 Danses Grecques pour orchestre
3 cahiers de 12 Danses:
 
Griechische Tänze, W.Goehr, UE 5 /1-5 (14') & 6 /6-11 (14')
G.Schuller, Greek Dances,
Margun Music. Suite I. (24')
A. Series I (1933-35) [21:34]
     
I. Tsamikos 1 (Enas aitos)
Tsamikos dance (An Eagle)   I,1-Enas Aitos (Tsamikos)
II. Kritikos 1
Cretan dance I   I,2-Cretan Dance
III. Ipirotikos 1
Epirot dance I 2- Ipirotikos 1 (1'53)  
IV. Peloponnissiakos 1
Peloponnesian dance I 1-Peloponnisiakos 1 (4'44)  
V. Kritikos 2
Cretan dance II   I,5-Kritikos
VI. Kleftikos 1
Klephtic dance I 5-Kleftikos (2'59) I,6-Kleftikos
VII. Sifneikos 1
Siphnian dance I   I,7-Sifneikos
VIII. Kalamatianos
Kalamatianos dance   I,8-Kalamatianos
IX. Danse de Zalongou
 
The dance of Zalongos
(Danse of Zalo)
10-O Choros tou Zalongou (2'26)
 
 
X. Macedonikos 1
Macedonian I   I,10-Makedonikos
XI. Kritikos 3 (Paidia ke pios to petaxe)
Cretan Dance V (Boys, who threw it)   I,11-Pediake pios ke petaxe
XII. Thessalikos
Thessalina dance 8-Thessalikos (1'41)  
B. 2nd SERIES II (1936-49) [39:15]
 
   
G.Schuller, Greek Dances,
Margun Music. Suite II. 27'
I. Syrtos - Syrtos dance   II,1-Syrtos
II. Sifneikos 2 - Siphnian dance II (At Aghia Markella)   II,2-Sifkeikos
III. Kritikos 4 - Cretan dance III (I'll get up at the break of dawn)   II,3-Kritikos
IV. Nissiotikos - Island dance (A girl from Mylopotamos)   II,4-Nissiotikos
V. Vlachtikos - Vlach dance 11-Vlachikos (3'05)  
VI. Mavro Yémeni - Black Kerchief (Black Sash) 9-Mavro Yemeni (2'42)  
VII. Kathistos - Kathistos dance   II,7-Kathistos
VIII. Chiotikos 1 -
(also alternative version)
Chiot dance (A ship from Chios)
 
 
II,8-Chiotikos
 
IX. Tsamikos 2
(also alternative version)
Tsamikos dance II (Down at the large plain)
 
II,9-Tsamikos
 
X. Epitrapezios (Kritikos 5) - Table dance (Cretan dance IV)   II,10-Epitrapezios (Kritikos)
XI. Makedonikos 2 (i lafina) - Macedonian II (The Doe)   II,11-Makedonikos
XII. Peloponnissiakos 2
 
Peloponnesian II (Lyngos, the handsome youth)
6-Peloponnisiakos 2 (3'50)
 
 
C. 3rd SERIES III (1936-49) [30:00]
 
   
G.Schuller, Greek Dances,
Margun Music. Suite III. 24’
I. Hostianos
Dance from Hosti Epirot dance 4-Hostianos  
II. Ipirotikos 2 -
Epirot dance II 3- Epirotikos 2  
III. Kleftikos 2 -
Klephtic dance II 5-Kleftikos?  
IV. Mariori mou -
My Mariori, my Mariori   III,4-Mariori mou
V. Katou stou valtou ta horia -
Down in the Valtos villages   III,5-Tsamikos
VI. Makedonikos 3 -
(also alternative version)
Macedonian dance III   III,6-Makedonikos
VII. Chiotikos 2 -
 
Chiot dance II (Down on the beach, short one)
 
III,7-Chiotikos
 
VIII. Kleftikos 3 -
Klephtic dance III   III,8-Kleftikos
IX. To Nerantzofilima -
The Kiss under the bitter orange tree   III,9-Neradzophilima;
X. Arcadikos -
Arcadian dance 7-Arkadikos (3'55)  
XI. Messolonghitikos -
Messolonghian   III,11-Messolongitikos
XII. Mazochtos
 
Mazochtos dance (I'll turn into a swallow)
 
III,12-Mazochtotos