Greek composer Nikos Skalkottas was born in Chalcis (on the island of Euboea) on 21 March 1904, and began violin lessons aged five, studying with his father and uncle. Later he studied violin with Tony Schulze at the Athens Conservatory, then with Willy Hess at the Prussian Academy of Arts in Berlin.
In 1923 he decided to switch from violin to composition, and studied with Philipp Jarnach, Paul Juon, Robert Kahn and Kurt Weill, and later in Arnold Schoenberg's composition masterclass.
His post-Schoenbergian music was influenced by classical repertoire and Greek traditional music, and he was a member of the Second Viennese School. In 1930 some of his works were performed in Athens and Berlin, but they weren't understood.
He returned to Athens, where he spent the rest of his life, making a living as a back-desk violinist and working at the Folk Music Archive, transcribing Greek folk music into Western music notation.
He continued to compose, privately and prolifically. There were a few performances, but most of his music was unperformed until after his death in Athens on 19 September 1949, aged forty-five.
A selection of M&V articles about Nikos Skalkottas
Ensemble. An Exciting Whirlwind - Constantinos Carydis conducts Russian and Greek music in Rome, impressing Giuseppe Pennisi
CD Spotlight. Violinistic Aggression - Herwig Zack, heard by the late Howard Smith. 'Others are more brilliant but few, if any, more powerful.'
CD Spotlight. Highly Challenging - Music for unaccompanied violin, heard by Howard Smith. '... searching performance ...'