Born in Athens on May 12, 1936, Stelios Coucounaras is a composer of classical music and a prose writer.
Maria Poulaki, sister of Philoktitis Ikonomides, Director of the Athens State Orchestra, was Coucounaras’ first music teacher and she taught him piano and music theory. His second teacher was Marios Varvoglis, who taught him harmony and counter-point.
Simultaneously with the music studies, Coucounaras was attending the Law School of the University of Athens but the joys of music trumped the joys of the law. After two years of serving two incompatible gods, he left Athens to continue his music studies in Hamburg’s Music Academy.
In Hamburg, he studied composition under Ernst-Gernot Klussmann, symphonic jazz under Werner Fritz, and piano under Willi Schultz-Klingstroem. In special seminars of the Academy he studied the different forms of the 12-tone system, Hindemith’s system, and all the then fashionably innovative tendencies. His exertions led to a prize awarded to him by the Academy in 1962.
In the early 1960s, Coucounaras began to entertain reservations about the overall trajectory of modern music which rejected past accomplishments, persisted in endless experimentation with atonality, and confronted concert-goers with the admonition that “nobody cares if you hear or not”. When Ernst Krenck opined that composers ought to thank the 12-tone system for relieving them of the tyranny of inspiration, Coucounaras responded by designating Krenck’s opinion as a model of perverted thinking and by asserting that the healthy survival of contemporary music demands a return to tonality.
Coucounaras’ views resonated far and wide: in Bavarian Radio, in North German Radio, in Royal Swedish Radio, in Hellenic Radio –all of whom provided him with opportunities for a more detailed exposition.
In 2002 top artists of the Bayreuth Festival commissioned Mr Coucounaras to transcript works of Brahms and Wagner, which were performed during the festival in the Wahnfried Villa, the house where Richard Wagner lived and died. The same trancriptions have been performed at the Zeilitzheimer festival too.
In 2004, the German High Music Council invited him to participate in series of lectures on the prospects of contemporary music, sponsored by Musical Academies all over Germany.
Coucounaras is a member of the Union of Hellenic Composers, and the Union of German Composers. His works have been performed in numerous European countries, in the United States, and in Israel.
Symphonies: 1 (I,II,III,IV) - 2 (I,II,III,IV) - 3 - 4
Concert for Viola and Orchestra
Concert for Violoncello and Orchestra
Concert for Trumpet and Orchestra
Concert for Clarinet and Orchestra
Concert for Harp and Orchestra
Divertimento for Violoncello and String Orchestra
Heinrich Heintz’ Questions – Cantata for tenor, female chorus, organ and orchestra
In 2009 Coucounaras wrote in Greek Laicism and Music: Blues, Rock and Rebetico – Three Mythologies – One Genuine, Two Counterfeit. On the surface, the book is a musicological text. Below the surface, it is a lyrical lament for a world which did not deserve to die.
In December 2014, the book was awarded a prize by the Union of Hellenic Theater and Music Critics.
Link to the article at HAMBURGER ABENDBLATT for Stelios Coucounaras