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Vassilis Tsitsanis

Vassilis Tsitsanis

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Vassilis Tsitsanis was a Greek
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 songwriter and bouzouki
Bouzouki
The bouzouki , is a musical instrument with Greek origin in the lute family. A mainstay of modern Greek music, the front of the body is flat and is usually heavily inlaid with mother-of-pearl. The instrument is played with a plectrum and has a sharp metallic sound, reminiscent of a mandolin but...

 player. He became one of the leading Greek composers of his time and is widely regarded as one of the founders of modern Rebetika. Tsitsanis wrote more than 500 songs and is still remembered as an extraordinary bouzouki player.

Biography


Tsitsanis was born in Trikala
Trikala
Trikala is a city in northwestern Thessaly, Greece. It is the capital of the Trikala peripheral unit, and is located NW of Athens, NW, of Karditsa, E of Ioannina and Metsovo, S of Grevena, SW of Thessaloniki, and W of Larissa...

. From a young age, Tsitsanis was interested in music and learnt to play the mandolin
Mandolin
A mandolin is a musical instrument in the lute family . It descends from the mandore, a soprano member of the lute family. The mandolin soundboard comes in many shapes—but generally round or teardrop-shaped, sometimes with scrolls or other projections. A mandolin may have f-holes, or a single...

, violin
Violin
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

 and the bouzouki
Bouzouki
The bouzouki , is a musical instrument with Greek origin in the lute family. A mainstay of modern Greek music, the front of the body is flat and is usually heavily inlaid with mother-of-pearl. The instrument is played with a plectrum and has a sharp metallic sound, reminiscent of a mandolin but...

 which were the mainstay of so many of his songs. In 1936 he left for Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 to study Law, and by 1937, had made his first musical recording.

In 1937 he moved to Thessaloniki, where he served his military service, and stayed there for about ten years, during the German occupation of Greece. There he became famous and wrote many of his best songs that were later recorded after the end of the War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. By the shut-down of the record companies by the German occupation Forces in 1941, he had already recorded about 100 of his own songs and played on many recordings of other composers.

In 1946, Tsitsanis returned to Athens and began recording many of his own compositions that made famous many of the singers that worked with him, such as Sotiria Bellou
Sotiria Bellou
Sotiria Bellou was a famous Greek singer and performer of the Greek rebetiko style of music. She was one of the most famous rebetisas of all, mentioned in many music guides, and a contributor to the 1984 British Documentary entitled Music of the Outsiders...

 (Σωτηρία Μπέλου), Marika Ninou
Marika Ninou
Marika Ninou , was an Armenian-Greek rebetiko singer, born Evangelia Atamian .-Biography:...

 (Μαρίκα Νίνου) and Prodromos Tsaousakis (Πρόδρομος Τσαουσάκης).

Tsitsanis died at the Royal Brompton Hospital
Royal Brompton Hospital
Royal Brompton Hospital is the largest specialist heart and lung centre in the United Kingdom .The hospital is part of Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust is a national and international specialist heart and lung centre based in Chelsea, London and Harefield, Middlesex...

 in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 following a lung operation, on his sixty-ninth birthday. He was mourned across Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

, where his music is still enjoyed to this day and he is regarded as a legend of rebetiko music.

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