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Rebetiko has been inscribed on the UNESCO representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Greek Rebetiko was inscribed on the UNESCO representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Rebetiko was included in the list during the 12th annual conference of the UNESCO Committee of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in South Korea December 4-6 2017.  Greek Culture & Sport Ministry had submitted a file for the inscription.

According to UNESCO decision:

Rebetiko is a musical and cultural expression directly linked to song and dance that initially spread among urban working-class populations. Rebetiko songs are now a standardized repertoire in social occasions, containing invaluable references to the customs and traditions of a particular way of life. Rebetiko is transmitted orally, as well as by the media and in music schools, conservatories and universities, and musicians and enthusiasts continue to play a key role in keeping the practice alive.

Video: about the little secrets of Rebetiko with English subtitles

In order to confirm the importance of the event for the historical, social and cultural promotion of Greece, Rebetiko’s candidacy has received the praise of the Evaluation Body for the quality of preservation actions that are designed and especially for educational programs for the promotion and its multifaceted importance, especially among young people.

Rebetiko was initially associated with the lower classes of the society, an urban subculture that emerged in the coastal areas of Asia Minor in Smyrna (Izmir) in late 19th, early 20th century, later in Athens, Piraeus and Thessaloniki, especially when millions of refugees fled Asia Minor in the 1920’s. The cradles of the genre were likely to be the ouzeri taverns, the hashish dens (tekedes) with hookahs, coffee shops and even the prison.

The music is influenced by the Byzantine Music, the Greek Folksmusic of the Aegean islands, and the Arabic Makams.

Rebetes in Karaiskaki, Piraeus (1933). Left Vamvakaris with bouzouki, middle Batis with guitar. By Unknown – Scan from “Fünf Griechen in der Hölle”, Trikont LC 4270 (1982)

The lyrics reflect the harsh realities of a marginalized subculture’s lifestyle: poverty, crime, drink, drugs, prostitution, love, death, life…

Famous Greek composer and Greek music theorist Manos Hatzidakis summarized the key elements of Rebetiko lyrics in three words with a wide presence in the vocabulary of modern Greek meraki, kefi, and kaimos (μεράκι, κέφι, καημός: love, joy, and sorrow).

Among the great Rebetiko composers and singers are Grigoris Asikis, Kostas Roukounas, Vassiliss Tsitsanis, Sotiria Bellou, Roza Eskenasi.

Sotiria Bellou  – Synnefiasmeni Kyriki (Cloudy Sunday)

Markos Vamvakaris – Ta matiklada soy lampoyn (Your eyelashes shine)

Rare performance: Bellou – Vassilis Tsitsanis on Greek state TV , probably in the 1970’s

Rosa Eskenasi – Zaharias Kasimatis recorded in 78 rpm in 1946

Stella Haskil – Vassilis Tsitsanis Paliose to Sakaki mou (My jacket is worn out, no friend comes close, now that my clothes are old)  recorded 1948

Marika Ninou – Stavors Touanakos Antilaloune ta Vouna ( The Mountains echo, when I cry in the sunset)   recorded 1951

Film Rembetiko (1983 by Costas Ferris)  based on the life of rebetiko singer Marika Ninou

Kaigomai (I’m burning) Music Stavros Xarchakos, Singer Sotiria Leonardou

Rebetiko is the fifth element that has inscribed Greece in the UNESCO List of of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. First it was the Mediterranean Diet together with Italy, Spain and Morocco (2010), the Knowledge of cultivation of Mastic on the island of Chios (2014), the Tinian marble craftsmanship (2015) and the Momoeria New year’s celebrations in eight villages of the Kozani area in West Macedonia (2016).

Together with France, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Croatia and Slovenia, Greece has submitted a candidacy for the craftsmanship of Rubble Walls. The submition is to be evaluated in 2018.

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