- Iakovos Nafpliotis
Iakovos Nafpliotis, (or Nafpliotis or Naupliotis or Naupliotes: _gr. Ιάκωβος Ναυπλιώτης) (
Naxos, 1864 - Athens, Dec 5th,1942) was the Majestuous Archon Protopsaltis (First Cantor) of the Holy and Great Church of Christ in Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey)
Iakovos Nafpliotis is one of the first as well as the greatest psaltis to have ever been recorded.
Iakovos Nafpliotis was born in Greece, on the island of Naxos (Cyclades)in 1864.
His last name is simply "Nafpliotis" and not "o Nafpliotis", which would imply that he originates from the city of Nafplion. To take into consideration his geographic origins, as is the case will all the great psaltis whose names have crossed the centuries (eg. Petros from Laconia, Peloponnesos called "Petros o Peloponnesios" or "Petros Ladikedaimon"), one may wish to call Iakovos Nafpliotis by the following:
"Iakovos Nafpliotis o ek Naxou" the "Megaloprepis", (Iakovos Nafpliotis from Naxos, the Majestuous Protopsaltis) so as to distinguish him from his predecessors of the same first name (e.g. Iakovos Peloponnesios).
The Nafpliotis family, which was originally called "Anapliotis", originated from Anaplous (an area along the western shore of the Bosporos), and run a printing shop in Naxos until the first half of the 19th century. The first to change the name from "Anapliotis" to "Nafpliotis" was Anastasios Anapliotis, who was a member of thePhiliki Etairia [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filiki_Eteria] .
Iakovos travelled to Constantinople (today's Istanbul) at the age of 7, where he was acclaimed for his exceptional calliphonus vocal quality and was ordained as Canonarch at the church of Saint Nicolaos. He was later on ordained as First Canonarchos of St. George's Greek Orthodox Patriarchal Church in 1878 (at the age of 14 years old) and served this function for three years.
Iakovos had heard exceptional Patriarchal protopsaltis (right chorus leading chanters) such as Ioannis "Byzantios" (meaning "from Constantinople"), Konstantinos Byzantios and Georgios from Raidestos the 2nd. They, in turn, had heard their predecessors: Daniel from Tyrnabos, Iakovos Giakoumakis from Peloponnesos, Petros "Byzantios" and Gregorios from Levi. Iakovos' main teacher was Nikolaos Stoyianovitz the Lambadarios (left chorus leading chanter).
Iakovos Nafpliotis was the last psaltis to have progressively passed through all the psaltic "ophikion" (officium) stages, in the following order and duration:
*First Canonarchos: 1878 to 1881 (14 to 17 years of age = 3 years of service)
*Second Dometstichos: 1881 to 1888, (17 to 24 years of age = 7 years of service)
*First Domestichos 1888 to 1905 (24 to 41 years of age = 17 years of service)
*Archon Lambadarios 1905 to 1911, (41 to 47 years of age = 6 years of service)
*Archon Protopsaltis 1911 to 1938 (47 to 74 = 27 years of service).
Iakovos Nafpliotis served the Patriarchal Analogion for 60 years, and was blessed with the privilege of having chanted for a succession of 14 Patriarchs.
Iakovos Nafpliotis retired in Athens, a city chosen by members of his family, where he passed away in 1942 at the age of 78 years. He was buried in the First Nekrotapheion of Athens.
His disciple, Angelos Boudouris, has left behind almost 10 000 (ten thousand) pages of authentic psaltiki manuscripts of which many include transcriptions of Iakovos’ traditional interpretations of the entire year-round, functional psaltic repertoire. Angelos Boudouris informs his readers that this great teacher had learned how to chant traditionally during his apprenticeship as second Domestichos next to the Lambadarios Nikolaos Stoyianovitz, who knew nothing of the reformed (1820s) semeiography which was in current use.
Angelos Boudouris informs us as well about the ignorance, as concerns the "Patriarchal style" ("hyphos") of the various psaltis who were introduced into the Patriarchal Cathedral without going through the necessary officiums (e.g. the musicologist Protopsaltis Georgios Biolakis), and how Iakovos along with remaining subordinates, who had grown up in the Patriarcheion, would "drag newcomers by the nose" in their obstinate safekeeping of the tradition they had been taught. The unfortunate newcomers had no choice but to "follow along", in spite of their "superior" official positions. Boudouris was able to testify to all this because he grew up in the Patriarcheion as well, during the early 1900’s.
Angelos Boudouris finally informs us of the respect most people would render Iakovos, as well as of various unsuccessful attempts to have him removed from the Patriarchate: Iakovos was actually replaced twice during his Protochantry.
Stylianos Tsolakidis, who was the First Canonarchos and later on helper Domestichos of Iakovos Nafpliotis -for a total of about 10 years- during the 1910 decade, claimed that Iakovos Nafpliotis was "a serious psaltis and teacher, and that no one of his time chanted like him". Stylianos Tsolakidis had also chanted along Georgios Binakis (student of Nicolaos Raidestinos, son and student of Georgios Raidestinos the Second) as first Canonarchos for two years, and along
Nileas Kamaradosas well, but no one in Constantinople had the "psaltic stability" or "stamima" of Iakovos. According to his testimony, Iakovos would chant everything by heart, in an upright position, without any corporal motion whatsoever, his lips barely moving. According to both Boudouris and Tsolakidis, Iakovos avoided talking in everyday life.
Works, Teachings, Recordings, Students, Patriarchal Paedagogy and "hyphos" (style)
During his service as first Domestichos, Iakovos Nafpliotis helped transcribe old notation books according to the new semeiography (1899: Doxastarion of Petros Peloponnesios). He taught the psaltic art in the Patriarchal Music school of Phanarion (Chalki Theological School), and also published a book in two volumes: the "Forminx" [the very name Constantinos Pringos used later on for his own editions] which contains various hymns and songs for the use of elementary schools.
Angelos Boudouris made extraordinary efforts to put on paper Iakovos’ performances of classical pieces, by bringing his manuscripts to the Patriarchal church so as to modify them, or by listening to his children, Constantinos and Leontios, both Canonarchs of Iakovos, chant whatever the Teacher had taught them. Nevertheless, Iakovos could not understand the purpose of such transcriptions, for he knew and taught everything by heart by continuous repetition. The Canonarchs would learn in this manner, after they had studied "parallagi" ("solfegio") of the classical pieces with their master.
Iakovos Nafpliotis was once replaced for 6 months by Antonios Syrkas in the late 1930s. According to Boudouris, the latter did not know anything about the Patriarchal method of chanting. During this period, Iakovos contemplated leaving Constantinople, given that some Greeks had doubts as to his right to remain on the Patriarchal analogion in terms of his citizenship, which (fortunately) did not seem to be an issue for the Turkish authorities.
On the occasion of his 50th year of service, the entire personnel was remunerated in double.
Upon his retirement, the Patriarch Beniamin the First bestowed upon him the title of "Honorary Protopsaltis of the Holy and Great Church of Christ".
The psaltic community and History will remember Iakovos Nafpliotis as "the Megaloprepis" (the Majestuous one).
His voice was recorded owing to the clairvoyance of Patriarch Germanos V (1913-1918), who even contributed from his personal purse so as to finance some of the historic plates which were recorded under the label "ORFEON RECORD". Most of these recordings were realised with Konstantinos Pringos, who was actually protopsaltis in another church in Constantinople at the time.
According to the Protocanonarchos Stylianos Tsolakidis, these recordings are more of paedagogical nature: the tempo is very slow (which eventually accelerated when there is lack of recording time), there is no syneptigmenos chronos and "analyseis" (developments) are maintained to a strict minimum. This is the way Iakovos would chant so as to teach the basics of a hymn the "first time around". In the Patriarchate, the interpretations were slightly more vivid, due in part to a variety of rhythmic nuances, yet never too far off from the actual recordings.
No one seems to know exactly how many such plates there really exist. Many originals are to be found in Thessaloniki, under the care of Prof. Alygizakis. Some are said to be found in the Hellenic national radio station ERT. Others claim that the entire collection is to be found in the monastery of Kykkos in Cyprus.
Some of these historic recordings have been put on CD, but we are far from the minimal estimate of 5 hours (300 minutes and, at 3 minutes per plate = about 100 plates) that exist in various collectors’ safe boxes.
In memory of this great psaltis, but also of those who admired him and made enormous sacrifices so as to obtain these recordings, they have been put up for the benefit of all (see links below).
Concerning the patriarchal paedagogy of Iakovos, which was based in past on o/aural memory transmission, there was one other particularity, that of "chronos" and the way it was counted, which he managed to transmit to at least one of the few students who had the opportunity to be his disciple ever since a young age (Stylianos Tsolakidis, the others being Constantinos and Leontios Boudouris). Other students who studied at a later age (e.g. Angelos Boudouris, Constaninos Pringos, Georgios Karakasis) were also permeated with many of the elements of Iakovos’ Majestuous Patriarchal style ("hyphos"). The many ways of counting the "chronos" (which is not the "rhythmos") and of combining "analyseis" (developments or "variations") are what allow a good psaltis to chant a unique score in many ways, and which can lead to catastrophic performances by those who have not been taught by the Patriarchal method.
Although most of the psaltis of Constantinople had good intervals and attacks (which is not the case of most psaltis of today), their "Politikon hyphos" or "style" is not to be confused with the "Patirarchal style", where the repertoire chanted was different not only in composition (usually of abbreviated nature) as compared to some classical editions, but in terms of chronos counting [divided ("dieremenos"), unitary ("monosimos"), simple ("haplos"), complex ("synthetos" or "syneptigmenos chronos" which is not to be confused with syneptigmenos "rhythmos"), free ("eleutheros"), callophonic etc.] , as as well. Nevertheless, Iakovos would first teach using the classical editions and then only would he initiate his disciples to the particular compositions that were used in the Patriarchal church.
Most of the 14 Patriarchs as well as the numerous hierarchs that crossed Iakovos’ psaltic career were firm supporters of and would acclaim his traditional chanting. Those who were ignorant even went as far as to replace him once. During this episode and after his retirement, some areas of Greece, namely that of Chios, proposed that they add to his retirement funds so that he might continue to honour them with his serious, hegemonic and praying chant.
According to Angelos Boudouris, Iakovos Nafpliotis was a standard of psaltiki that most other psaltis acknowledged and respected, which is attested to by the fact that they would meet at the Patriarchal church approximately once a month so as to continue benefiting from this master’s knowledge. Few were the psaltis who were as traditional. Both Angelos Boudouris as well as Stylianos Tsolakidis mention the traditional Georgios Binakis (first chanter of Agios Ioannis Chios in Constantinople, whose retirement years were supplemented by the merchants of Chios, where he spent the remainder of his life chanting in the Metropolis of Chios). On the other hand, many were those who had personal ideas about manuscripts and composition and chant as a whole, of which the most famous one was Nileus Kamarados. Finally, Iakovos also met and heard Simon Karas, [http://www.analogion.com/SimonKaras.html] a music researcher whose ideas and "style" of chanting is known world-wide but is also contested by many (namely the "Hypermachos" Association in Greece [ [http://graeca.mrezha.net/upload/MontrealPsaltiki/Hypermachoi_Anti_Simon_Karas/Katsifis_contra_Karas_intro.htm] ] . Simon Karas is one of the few musicians that Iakovos Nafpliotis, who was otherwise very conservative, even in the number of words he’d utter, criticizes overtly by stating the following:
Angelos Boudouris mentions the following in his "Musicological Memoirs", paragraph 473:
:The teacher has formed the opinion that Karas is an intellectual man ("logios") :with a desire to work on the matters of our music, :of which music he happens to be a fan and supporter ("thiaswtis kai hyposthrikths"),:even though he is not acquainted with it ("an kai den thn gnwrizei").
Iakovos Nafpliotis' opinion is at the center of a flaming current debate, as Simon Karas had collected information concerning oral tradition, much in ths same way as other renowned musicologists of his time (for instance Spyridon Peristeris in Athens [ [http://ieropsaltis.com/psalt_Peristeris.htm] ] and Kallinikos Theodoulos in Cyprus [ [http://ieropsaltis.com/psalt_Kallinikos.htm] ] . In spite of the worldwide recognition of Simon Karas' musicological positions, which are heralded by many of his students and followers, many are those who hang on to Iakovos' opinion, given the latter's excellence in the practice of the psaltic art.
* [http://graeca.canto.ru/upload/MontrealPsaltiki/GKM_Paedagogical/Kyr_Iakovos_NAFPLITOIS_Mi_Apsotrepsis_VIDEO_VOCAL_TRANSITIONS_001.wmv Video representation of Iakovos Nafpliotis’ voice]
* [http://analogion.com/Nafpliotis.html Recordings and biography] (EN) (GR)
* [http://www.ec-patr.net/Nafpliotis.htm Biography] (GR)
* [http://www.analogion.com/NafpliotisSchool.html Iakovos Nafpliotis: The old Patriarchal school (students and followers)] (EN) (GR)
* [http://www.ec-patr.net/gr/psaltai/nafpliotes.htm Biography] (GR)
* [http://www.cmkon.org/Nafpliotis.htm Biography] (GR)
* [http://www.music-art.gr/content/view/23/35/lang,el/ Biography] (GR)
* [http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/psaltopedia/ Iakovos Nafpliotis Paedagogy] (and refutation of contemporary psaltic deviations from tradition) (EN)
* [http://graeca.canto.ru/upload/MontrealPsaltiki/Psaltopedia/Psaltopedia.htm Website concerning Iakovos Nafpliotis' Paedagogy] (EN) (GR)
:(EN / GR) [http://www.analogion.com]
:(EN / GR) [http://www.ieropsaltis.com]
* [http://graeca.canto.ru/upload/MontrealPsaltiki Lots of material on psaltiki]
* [http://graeca.canto.ru/upload/MontrealPsaltiki/Kyr_NAFPLIOTIS_Iakovos_Megaloprepis_Archon_Prototpsaltis/IakovosNafpliotisColour001.gifPhoto picture 1]
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