One of the most prominent members of the folk music scene of Greece, Filio Pyrgaki, died at the age of 81 on Saturday morning.
Pyrgaki had been for decades one of the nation’s most iconic symbols of folk music, known as ”Dimotika.”
Reportedly, Pyrgaki had been fighting cancer over the last few years. She also lost her husband in May, who passed away beaten by the same disease.
The news of her passing was made public by singer Maria Giannaka, who uploaded a post on her personal Facebook account.
The life of Filio Pyrgaki
Pyrgaki became famous by singing at various folk festivals throughout Greece as well as in many countries abroad.
It is estimated that she has released over 200 different records of all formats, including discs, albums and CD singles.
Pyrgaki was born in the village of Asprokampos in Corinth in 1939. She started her singing career in 1953 when she was only a 14-year old girl.
Her first-ever disc, titled ”Varethika ta niata mou” (I am tired of my youth) was released in 1967.
Throughout her career, she performed in hundreds of festivals and venues in Greece, the United States, Australia, Germany, Sweden, and elsewhere, promoting Greek folk music to wider audiences.
Dimotika: The folk music of Greece
Greek folk music, which is known in Greece as ”folk songs” (dimotika tragoudia) includes all sorts of tempos, rhythms, and genres of music. These songs are highly influenced by geography, meaning that every place in Greece has its own long tradition in folk music.
The compositions of ”dimotika tragoudia” exist for centuries, and most of the time have unknown creators; thus, the term ”dimotika” which means ”by the people.”
Both historical events and purely psychological and emotional needs are capable of provoking spontaneous lyrical creation, something that has offered to Greek folk music a plethora of songs.
Greek folk music can also be classified according to the content and the occasion upon which individual songs are being performed. There are songs dedicated to weddings, to periods of mourning, to urban legends, as well as other occasions such as national days, the Carnival or even major religious celebrations.
The basic core of Greece’s folk songs includes elements that are dominated by emotion and direct references to everyday life, the fortunate occasions as well as sorrows of the people who create and sing them.
The folk music of Greece has never ceased to exist, just as Greeks have never ceased to party, marry or mourn their loved ones.
Folk poetry and music appears with the same social elements of anonymous poetry that we detect in Greek antiquity.
Folk songs in Greece had always been the creation of a society characterized by its patriarchal organization and its closed agricultural economy, elements that remained unaltered from the times of antiquity all the way up until the 20th century.