During the 1920s, over a million and a half Greeks were forced to leave their lands and towns. Many became refugees, even in Greece, and some became known as rebetes. They were very much discriminated against. Rebetika traces their struggle through the evolution of their music—enriched by new challenges and a sense of tragedy for which the Greeks are famous. Rebetika has been compared to the American blues, the Portuguese fado, and the Spanish flamenco.
Rebetika is a fascinating history of the anguish of an uprooted people from their ancestral homes. From Greek-inhabited Asia Minor, particularly along the Ionian Sea coast, thousands were expelled to live elsewhere in what they call the Catastrophe of 1922. This bitter experience of uprooting a people who lived there for thousands of years was the result of nationalism and war.
Through innovative musical forms, the songs of these refugees arose from their hardships and suffering, their fruitless dreams, their current and lost loves, and, underlying it all, their jaunty tough will to survive.
Though many of the original composers and singers have died, this book is sure to keep the rebetika tradition alive for new generations of singers and players.
Giannis Chorbajoglou is a well-known folklorist and musicologist living in London, England. A musician who is regarded as a master of the bouzouki, he tours Europe and the United States regularly.
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