Grigorios Th. Stathis

Athens, Greece

 He is a member of the Greek Committee of Byzantine Studies, the Society of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Studies, the Greek Palaeographic Society, the Friends of Mount Athos’ Club, the Monumenta Musicae Antiquae Europae Orientalis Foundation (Warsaw), the Corpus Scriptorum de Re Musica publishing committee (Vienna) and he is the founder of the non-profiting society “Anatolis to Periichima” (1998).


GrIgorios Th. Stathis was born in Platania-Gerakarion, Ioannina (Greece) on November 8, 1939. His fundamental education was received in Athens, Rome, Copenhagen and Oxford, and encompasses the disciplines of Theology, Byzantine literature and Byzantine musicology. More specifically, he studied in: a) the University of Athens (School of Theology) from where he graduated (in 1963), he become a doctor (in 1976) and was appointed lecturer (1983) and delivered his university lectures; b) the Institutum Orientalium Studiorum of Rome, degree of Systematic Theology (1965); c)the University of Copenhagen (Faculty of Letters), degree in Byzantine studies with a speciality in Byzantine Musical Paleography and Hymnology (1969); and d) in oxford (1969-70), without acquiring a degree.

 Together with his university education he studied Byzantine and European music in the Conservatoria of Athens and Piraeus under teachers Ioannis Margaziotis and Georgios Sklavos and in Rome, with a three-year scholarship by the Tositsas Foundation, at the Composition School of Santa Cecilia Conservatorium under Antonio Ferdinandi (1963-65 and 1967-68).

During the period 1965-67 he served his military service, the last 8 months of which (31 December 1966-end of august 1967) he served at the Holy Monastery of Saint Catherine of Mount Sinai, working at the archives and the library. The holiness of that desert and the meditative atmosphere were fundamental for the turn of his interests to the Psaltic Art, its composition and notation.

An internationally renowned researcher and author in musicology, Grigorios Stathis has been professor of Byzantine Musicology and the Psaltic Art at the Department of Music Studies (1991-2007) of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens; he also offered courses in the Theology Department (1983-1997) of the same University. Since 2007 he is Emeritus Professor of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. He also serves as Director at the Church of Greece’s Insitute of Byzantine Musicology.

 He is a member of the Greek Committee of Byzantine Studies, the Society of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Studies, the Greek Palaeographic Society, the Friends of Mount Athos’ Club, the Monumenta Musicae Antiquae Europae Orientalis Foundation (Warsaw), the Corpus Scriptorum de Re Musica publishing committee (Vienna) and he is the founder of the non-profiting society “Anatolis to Periichima” (1998).

 He has been honoured with the award of the Church of Greece (1977), the award of the Academy of Athens (1976), the golden cross of Apostle Paul’s medal by the Church of Greece (2006), medals by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Patriarchate of Moscow, Mount Athos, the Holy Monastery of Patmos, Meteora He has been honoured, also, with the high distinction of Doctor Honoris Causa of the Academy “Gheorghe Dima” of Cluj-Napoca (Romania, July 31, 2012), “as a sign of appreciation for the outstanding achievements in the field of Byzantine music research”. He speaks and writes Greek, Italian, English and French and knows German and Spanish. 

With his wife, philologist-historian Penelope Stathis from Constantinople († passed away on march 26, 2008) he has four children, one son and three daughters.

 Grigorios Stathis is a multidimensional intellectual personality who has authored a large and important corpus of writings. His publications to date, in the form of books, articles, studies and presentations at international conferences, as well as publications in collections (Scholarly Journals, Conference Minutes, Dedications, etc.), in Greece and abroad number well over seven hundred. Of these publications, twenty five are directly related to the significant topic of the correct interpretation and exegesis of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine notation and have been published in authoritative periodicals in Greek, Italian, English and French. Another group of publications (around forty in number) emerge from his long involvement with the music manuscripts housed in the monasteries of Mount Athos. A smaller group of his writings deals with the Demotic song (see the announcement at the Academy of Athens, 4 March 1976, ‘The oldest demotic song written with Byzantine notation – 1562’). An important group of publications, about twenty, are his articles as well as his talks and presentations at conferences on the broad subject of worship studies (λατρειολογία), seasoned with both hymnological and chanting conditions, and by targeting the healthy spiritual view of the Liturgics and Ritual of the vibrant Orthodox worship.

 The central axis of both his scholarly activity and his monumental promotion of the Greek musical culture, together with his foundational contribution to international musicology, is his massive seven-volume catalogue, “The Byzantine Music Manuscripts – Mount Athos”; volumes 1-4 were published in 1975, 1976, 1993 and 2015. This work received a special award from the Academy of Athens on Christmas, 1976, which resulted in the publication of the second volume. In his catalogographic work are also included the catalogues “The Byzantine music Manuscripts – Meteora” (2006), “The Byzantine Music Manuscripts – The Manuscripts of the Hellenic Institute of Venice” (Thesaurismata 2007). The special two-volume catalogue, “The Protographa of the ‘Exegeseis’ into the New Method of Analytical Notation” 2016 and forthcoming are the catalogue “Gregory Protopsaltes’ exegetical archive in the library of K. A. Psachos”.

 From his vast scholarly activity, the following diatribes merit special mention: “The  Dekapentasyllabic  hymnography  in  Byzantine  Melic  Composition (melopoiia)” (doctoral dissertation, Athens, 1977), “The ‘Exegesis’ of the Old Byzantine Notation” (Athens, 1978, seven reprints) and The “anagrammes and mathemata of Byzantine melic Composition” (assistant Professorship, Athens, 1979, seven reprints - and in English translation by Konstantinos Terzopoulos under the title “Introduction to Kalophony, the Byzantine Ars Nova. The Anagrammatismoi and Mathemata of Byzantine Chant», Oxford, Bern, Berlin, New York, 2014), as well as his most recent books “Forms and Figures of the Psaltic Art. Composition–Morphology of the Byzantine Music” which includes 300 pages of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine compositions (athens, 2011), and “Erotapokriseis and Akrivologemata of the Psaltic Art” (Athens 2015).

 Along with the scientific and teaching work, and inseparable in his life, is the composing and artistic work. Grigorios Th. Stathis is a composer and specialist (“εξηγητής”) in the pre-1814 notation. His compositions are numerous and they concern all the daily and nightly ecclesiastical services and all the genders and kinds of compositions. He has also composed and published the forgotten Byzantine services of the Asmatic Typikon of the Great Church of Saint Sophia “Pannychis”, “Trithekti and the Christmas Kontakion by Romanos Melodos” and the “enkainia”. He conceived the idea of the dramatization of the Ladder of st. John of Sinai, in order to make some of his teachings better known; he composed many of the verses according to the psaltic composition kinds and published it in 2007 with the title “The ladder of Virtues”.

He has prepared the exegeses, transcribing from the prototype, synoptic notation into the analytical notation of the New Method (from the year 1814 to the present) for a large portion of the compositions of Parthenios the Meteorites (last quarter of the 18th c.), manolakes Protopsaltes of Trikke (mid-18th c.), the method “Ho thelon mousiken mathein” by Panagiotes Chrysaphes the New (circa 1671), and others.

As an artist, Grigorios Th. Stathis is a “Maestor of the Psaltic art”, that is the master and choir-leader of the famous choir of chanters “The Maistores of the Psaltic Art”, which he founded in 1983, whose primary aim, by way of scholarly precision and artistic excellence, is to contribute to the correct international promotion of the compositions of both Byzantine and Post-Byzantine composers and to establish and define the criteria for a renewal of the Psaltic Art in Orthodox worship. With his choir Grigorios Th. Stathis has performed more than 300 concerts in Greece and in more than forty countries worldwide, in Europe, Asia, Australia and America. The main goals and objectives of this choir of chanters are: a) the study and presentation of the works of the main Byzantine and Post-Byzantine composers, b) the analysis of the various ‘types’ of composition (i.e. Doxology, Cherubic hymn, Polyeleos, Idiomelon, etc.), c) the promotion of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine music with scholarly substantiation and skilled technique at established music festivals throughout Greece and abroad, and d) the chanting of entire divine Services during times of worship.

He is the chief editor of the eight album set series of recordings (each containing two or three albums) entitled “Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Composers” of the Institute of Byzantine Musicology. With the “Maistores of the Psaltic Art” but also with other choirs of cantors he has recorded compositions of the most important Byzantine and Post-Byzantine composers, producing the following albums (lPs, audio-cassettes, CDs): “Petros Bereketis o Melodos” 1975, “Gregorios Protopsaltes the Byzantine” 1977, “Petros Lambadarios from Peloponnese”, 1980, “Balasis the priest and Nomophylax” 1988, “Theodoros Papaparaschou from Fokaea” 1984, “Ioannes Papadopoulos Koukouzelis and Maistor” 1988, “Germanos archbishop of New Patras” 1988, “Pannychis” 2000, “Enkainizou, enkainizou”, “Come, Christ-bearing Peoples”, “Rejoice, o peoples [Χαίρετε λαοί και αγαλλιάσθε]” 2002, “mount athos Composers – i” 1998, “apocalypse and historical Witness” 1988, “The sacred meteora” 1990, “Ψάλατε συνετώς (– α΄)” 2001, “Ψάλατε συνετώς–Β΄” 2004, “Ψάλατε συνετώς–Γ΄” 2007, “Ψάλατε συνετώς–Δ΄” 2011, “lift up your heads, o ye Gates [Άρατε πύλας]” 2001, “Ήχος καθαρός εοταζόντων” 2002, “il Viaggio della Fede”, “oriental antiphona. Byzantine and arabic Passions”, “Byzantine and Gregorian antiphona”. in print: “Parthenios the meteorites”, “mount athos Composers – ii”, “o earth, announce Good Tidings of Great Joy [ευαγγελίζου γη χαράν μεγάλην]”, “light from light”, “Trithekti and Christmas κontakion”, “The ladder of Virtues” his work “Pannychis was translated into arabic and circulated as a cd with the same title in english: Pannykhis (sem = The school of ecclesiastical music, mount lebanon, Beirut, Vol. 4).

He also conducted live recordings at a) the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and produced the editions “The Sacred Passion” 1982 (5 albums), “Christmas – Epiphany” 1984 (5 albums), “Akathist and the Veneration of the Cross” (2 albums), b) Mount Athos, where he produced “The service of Hosios Simon” 1981 (1 disk and cas-sette), and c) the monastic convent of the Annunciation in Ormilia, Chalkidiki, where he recorded the six cassette set of the “Vigil of Saint Mary Magdalene” 1985 and “Great.

Pascha” 2013 (two CDs). he has also produced the CD “Pater Pantokrator kai loge kai Pneuma” at the Holy Monastery of the Pantokrator Taos Pentelis in 2005.

As a university professor, Grigorios Th. Stathis is the spiritual “Father of Doctors”, a whole generation of fifty young researchers-intellectuals and he is, with his varied and multiple offer, the basic founder of the science of Byzantine Musicology in Greece and the renovator of the Psaltic Art, with a global reach. The topics of the doctoral dissertations that he has assigned to his PhD candidates concern the whole range of the Byzantine music, as a unified and autonomous Greek musical civilization. more specifically: the genders and kinds of composition, the prosopographies of composers, the specific periods of development of notation and composition, the morphology topics, the harmonic topics and definition of the various phonetic intervals, the secular music that is included in the Byzantine music manuscripts, the theoretical approach of the external music, the psaltic tradition of romania and the arabic worship, etc. The institute of Byzantine musicology has already published fifteen doctoral dissertations of his students.

 He taught and promoted the Byzantine notation and Greek Psaltic Art for the first time in Tbilisi, Georgia on February 2001 and 2002. he taught Byzantine music and liturgics for two semesters at the Theological school “John the Damascene” of Balamand in Tripoli, Lebanon and a ten-day intensive seminar of Psaltic Art for the chanters of the Patriarchate of Antioch (august 1998).

 With his decisive contribution and the electronic design of the notation (Stathis series) based on their diachronic manuscript form, all the signs (246 in total) of the Psaltic Art, from their first appearance in the 10th century, as coming from the Greek alphabet, until now, have been digitalised (4 July 1997) by the international organization for standardization (ISO) through the Hellenic organization for standardization (ELOT).

 In 2000 he established the tradition of a triennial international Conference of “Theory and Practice of the Psaltic Art” takes place in Athens. The first Greek-only conference took place in 2000 and the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th  international conferences (2003, 2006, 2009, 2012, 2015) were also completed with the publication of their proceedings and their Psaltic performances.

 Principally, Grigorios Th. Stathis is an elegant word-artist/poet. His autobiography, an eloquent manuscript of seventy pages, that was written in nine days (24 February-4 march 2001) ‘at the request of his students’ and is at the prologue of the publication of the honorary volume for his 60 years of age and his 30 years of scientific and artistic contribution, unravels with love and care but also with sharp honesty, all his aspects and reveals many secrets and unspoken truths. And there are many more things that God and his soul only knows. Hopefully some day they will be brought to light “for the common good”.




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