Domna Samiou

Last updated

Domna Samiou (Greek : Δόμνα Σαμίου; 12 October 1928 – 10 March 2012 [1] ) was a prominent Greek researcher and performer of Greek folk music and Turkish folk music. She received her first formal musical training from Simon Karas. For over half a century she collected, recorded, and performed traditional songs of Greece (earlier called demotika, nowadays referred to as "paradosiaka" or "traditional"), around the world, appealing not only to the Greek diaspora, but also introducing non-Greek audiences to traditional Greek folk music and Turkish folk music.



Born in the poor district of Kaisariani, Athens in 1928 (one of many neighbourhoods established with the influx of Greek refugees from Turkey in 1922), Samiou was the daughter of Greek refugees from the village Bayındır near Smyrna in Asia Minor. [2] Her mother fled to Greece in 1922, while her father, who was a prisoner of war, arrived slightly later during the exchange of populations.[ citation needed ]


At the age of thirteen, whilst attending night school, Domna Samiou received her first formal musical training from Simon Karas at the Association for the Dissemination of National Music, where she was tutored in Byzantine and folk music, as well as being introduced to the idea of field research in music.[ citation needed ] Her first professional collaboration was with the National Radio Foundation (E.I.R.), the state-run national radio station of Greece at the time, when she was a member of the Simon Karas choir.

In 1954 she became a full-time employee of the station, working in the National Music Section, in effect the folk music section of E.I.R.[ citation needed ] Through her work there, she came into contact with the leading traditional musicians of the day, who were part of a great wave of migration from the countryside to Athens. The National Music Section was busy recording them and, as a result, Domna became acquainted with all their various local musical styles. She was herself responsible for supervising records, stage plays and films.[ citation needed ]

In 1963 Domna Samiou started touring the countryside independently, to record music for the archive she was establishing. Then, in 1971, she left her radio job entirely to focus on her own musical career, accepting an invitation by the composer and performer Dionyssis Savvopoulos to sing at a club called Rodeo, frequented by a youthful anti-junta audience. It marked the beginning of Domna Samiou's impact and influence on generations of young people in Greece. Soon after, she performed at the Bach Festival in London, run at the time by Lina Lalandi. It was a triumphant start to a brilliant musical career: “It made people overcome the embarrassment they felt for folk music”, as she herself stated later.[ citation needed ]

In 1974, she started her collaboration with Columbia Records, which resulted in a number of LPs over the next years. In 1976-77, together with film directors Fotos Lambrinos and Andreas Thomopoulos, she toured the Greek countryside and produced twenty episodes of 'Musiko Odiporiko' ('Musical Travelogue') on Greek national television (ERT).[ citation needed ]

In 1981, the Domna Samiou Greek Folk Music Association was founded to preserve and promote Greek traditional music and facilitate the production of records and musical events to the highest standards, free from the demands of commercial record companies.[ citation needed ]


She died on 10 March 2012, following a short illness.84 years old [1]

Selected works

Musical editions

Published under the label of Domna Samiou Greek Folk Music Association.

Archive material

Domna Samiou systematically recorded folk songs from every part of Greece. The material, constituting the Domna Samiou Archive, belongs to the 'Domna Samiou Greek Folk Music Association'.It includes 320 audio tapes, some 1000 cassettes, and around 100 sound reels with studio-recorded material. More than 800 hours of music in total! Also included are Domna's handwritten notes concerning the material she collected, studio recordings, her concerts, published works, etc.

Part of the music data was digitized by the "Lilian Voudouri" Music Library of Greece under the program "Building a Complete Unit for the Documentation and Promotion of Greek Music" funded by the operational program "Information Society 2005-2008".

In 2014, the Association began the major project of digitization and organization of all the music and accompanying material, which was completed in 2016. Afterwards, all the material was organized, sectioned and cataloged. Handy guides were created to allow easy access to particular parts of the file.

Related Research Articles

Manos Hatzidakis Musical artist

Manos Hatzidakis was a Greek composer and theorist of Greek music, widely considered to be one of the greatest greek composers and one of the most globally recognised. His legacy and contribution are widespread among the works of contemporary Greek music, through the second half of the 20th and into the 21st century. He was also one of the main proponents of the "Éntekhno" form of music . In 1960, he received an Academy Award for Best Original Song for his song Never on Sunday from the film of the same name.

The music of Turkey includes mainly Turkic and Byzantine elements as well as partial influences ranging from Ottoman music, Middle Eastern music and Music of Southeastern Europe, as well as references to more modern European and American popular music. Turkey is a country on the northeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, and is a crossroad of cultures from across Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, the Caucasus and South and Central Asia.

The music of Greece is as diverse and celebrated as its history. Greek music separates into two parts: Greek traditional music and Byzantine music, with more eastern sounds. These compositions have existed for millennia: they originated in the Byzantine period and Greek antiquity; there is a continuous development which appears in the language, the rhythm, the structure and the melody. Music is a significant aspect of Hellenic culture, both within Greece and in the diaspora.

Aliki Vougiouklaki

Aliki Stamatina Vougiouklaki was a Greek actress and theatrical producer, best known for her films and theatrical plays. She was one of the most popular actresses in Greece, and was given the title of the National Star of Greece. Theatrically, she mostly starred in renditions of widely known Broadway musicals as well as multiple Greek tragedy plays. Vougiouklaki died in 1996 at the age of 62, just three months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Anna Vissi Cypriot recording artist and actress

Anna Vissi, also known as Anna Vishy, is a Greek Cypriot singer, songwriter, actress, television presenter, radio personality, and businesswoman. She studied music at conservatories and performed locally before moving to the professional scene in Athens, in 1973, where she signed with Minos and simultaneously collaborated with other musical artists and released promotional singles of her own while studying at the University of Athens.

Despina Vandi Greek singer

Despina Vandi, born as Despina Malea on 22 July 1969, is a Greek singer. Born in Tübingen near Stuttgart, Germany, Vandi's family returned to Kavala, Greece when she was six years old.


Rebetiko, plural rebetika, occasionally transliterated as rembetiko or rebetico, is a term used today to designate originally disparate kinds of urban Greek music which have come to be grouped together since the so-called rebetika revival, which started in the 1960s and developed further from the early 1970s onwards. Rebetiko briefly can be described as the urban popular song of the Greeks, especially the poorest, from the late 19th century to the 1950s.

The music of Crete, also called kritika, refers to traditional forms of Greek folk music prevalent on the island of Crete in Greece. Cretan traditional music includes instrumental music, a capella songs known as the rizitika, "Erotokritos," Cretan urban songs (tabachaniotika), as well as other miscellaneous songs and folk genres.

Helena Paparizou Greek-Swedish singer

Helena Paparizou is a Greek-Swedish singer, songwriter and television personality. Born and raised in Sweden to Greek parents, she enrolled in various arts schools before launching a career in Sweden in 1999 as a member of the laïko and Eurodance duo Antique, who participated in the Eurovision Song Contest 2001 and afterwards became popular.

Greek folk music includes a variety of Greek styles played by ethnic Greeks in Greece, Cyprus, Australia, the United States and elsewhere. Apart from the common music found all-around Greece, there are distinct types of folk music, sometimes related to the history or simply the taste of the specific places.

Nektaria Karantzi Musical artist

Nektaria Karantzi is a Byzantine and traditional singer from Greece.

Haris Alexiou Greek singer

Haris Alexiou is a Greek singer. She is considered one of the most popular singers in Greece and has been commercially successful since the 1970s. She has worked with important Greek songwriters and composers, has performed at top musical theatres all over the world, and has received several awards. She has recorded over thirty albums and has been featured on albums of other musicians. On 14 March 2010 Alpha TV ranked Alexiou as the first top-certified female artist in Greece in the phonographic era, Chart Show: Your Countdown and the Number 3 overall ranking with regards to the sale of the personal albums certified Gold or Platinum in Greek discography since 1970, behind the male singers George Dalaras and Yiannis Parios. Eight of her personal albums released between 1977 and 2003 have surpassed 1.5 million sales, the only Greek female singer to do so.

Glykeria Greek singer (born 1953)

Glykeria is a Greek singer active in Greece and Cyprus, while also gaining fame in Israel, France, Turkey, Spain, and England. Her career has spanned over 30 years and is marked by several multi-platinum releases. On 14 March 2010, Alpha TV ranked Glykeria the third top-certified female artist in the nation's phonographic era.

Syrtos is, in classical and modern Greece: a folk dance in which the dancers link hands to form a chain or circle, headed by a leader who intermittently breaks away to perform improvised steps.

Iakovos Nafpliotis

Iakovos Nafpliotis, was the Archon Protopsaltis of the Holy and Great Church of Christ in Constantinople. Iakovos Nafpliotis is one of the first chanters to have ever been recorded; many people also regard him as being one of the greatest.

Roza Eskenazi Musical artist

Roza Eskenazi was a famous Jewish-Greek-Armenian dancer and singer of rebetiko, Greek folk music, Kanto and Turkish folk music born in Constantinople, whose recording and stage career extended from the late 1920s into the 1970s.

Chrisavgi (Kristi) Stassinopoulou is a Greek singer, lyricist, and fiction writer. A native Athenian, she is an internationally known artist of the world music circuit. She is accompanied by composer, arranger, co-producer and multi-instrumentalist Stathis Kalyviotis. Their music combines traditional Greek rhythms and sounds, Byzantine vocal lines, rebetiko music, psychedelic rock, ambience and electronica.

Simon Karas (1905–1999) was a Greek musicologist, who specialized in Byzantine music tradition.

Marianna Chantelle Hansen, known professionally as Shaya, is a Greek singer Born in Denmark. Shaya was a member of the girl band Hi-5, the result of the Greek version of the talent show Popstars. She is currently pursuing a solo career and finished fifth in Greece's version of Dancing on Ice.

Anna Karabessini, was a Greek singer-songwriter of traditional and folk music. Born in Antimachia, Kos, from her early age her talent in singing appeared as her parents engaged in music and singing. Together with her sister Efi Sarris, they sang traditional songs for many years and are considered "having a prominent position and well known among all those who served the musical tradition of Kos and the Dodecanese"


  1. 1 2 Greek folk singer Domna Samiou dies at 84,, March 12, 2012.
  2. Paravantes, Maria (6 December 2002). "Domna Samiou: The stuff legends are made of". Athens News (12991). Archived from the original on 21 March 2012. Retrieved 20 November 2010.