Greek composer and musician Yiannis Spanos passes away, aged 85

Greek composer and musician Yiannis Spanos passes away, aged 85 3

Greece’s brilliant composer and musician Yiannis Spanos, who introduced the ‘New Wave’ in Greece in the ’60s, passed away on Thursday at the age of 85.

Spanos’s first release in 1964 ‘Mia agapi gia to kalokairi’ (A summer love) was very well received in the musical scene and he took off from there with several successful LPs. He also worked with French musicians and actors. Yiannis’ work was sung by well-known singers such as Arleta, Yiannis Parios, and Charis Alexiou.

Greek composer and musician Yiannis Spanos passes away, aged 85 4

In his early days as a musician, he was also a piano accompanist. Spanos won the music prize at the 1971 Thessaloniki Film Festival for composing the score of the film Ekeino to kalokairi. 

Yiannis was born in Kiato in 1934 and was influenced by his sister’s piano studies. He moved to Athens at the age of 17 to study at the National Odeum where he learned to play the piano. His father wanted him to become a scientist so he sponsored a yearly trip around Europe; Spanos lived briefly in Italy, Germany, and the UK, eventually coming to Paris, France, whereto he eventually moved more permanently in 1961.

In Paris, he worked in the artistic scene at the Rive Gauche as a piano accompanist. He accompanied there many French artists like Cora Vaucaire, Serge Gainsbourg, Béatrice Arnac and Juliette Gréco. It was in Paris and in French that he wrote his first songs; an example is a song Sidonie that was sung by Brigitte Bardot in the film A Very Private Affair.

When he eventually moved back to Greece, he was pivotal in the creation of the Greek New Wave genre. He continued composing music, including soundtracks for films; his songs have been sung by many Greek singers including Keti Chomata, Arleta, Giannis Poulopoulos and Dimitris Mitropanos.