The contextual significance of words and phrases as a composition parameter of the melodic lines of Cavafy’s poetry which has been set to music
When in 1930 Constantine P. Cavafy characterized himself as “an ultramodern poet, a poet of the future generations”, thus foreseeing that “the elements of his poetry will be appreciated even more by the future generations, prompted by the progress of discoveries and by their sophisticated intellectual mechanism”, it had never crossed his perceptive mind that his poetry would inspire dozens of Greek and foreign composers, who would attempt a music rendering of his poetry, to make mention of the term which Leonidas Zoras refers to the setting to music of Cavafy’s verse.
Cavafy’s poetry has given a new dimension to Modern Greek Poetry and the songs which have arisen from its setting to music have given life to Modern Greek Music. Cavafy’s meaningful verse, anthropocentric and critical as it is, provides Greek composers with inspiration, provokes their inventiveness and shapes the melodic lines which render it. Thus, the scholar often finds out that the intervallic lines and the rhythmic schemata which compose the melody are not random, but they intensify the contextual significance of the words or phrases that are set to music.
In the light of a delimitation of the massive material that is offered in the relevant bibliography of music works concerning Cavafy’s poetry that has been set to music, this paper attempts to provide an initial general presentation of the music rendering of the poems “The God Abandons Antony” and “The City” by Leonidas Zoras, Yiannis A. Papaioannou, Mikis Theodorakis, Thodoros Antoniou Yiannis Ioannidis, Kyriakos Sfetsas, Yiorgos Kouroupos and Leonidas Kanaris. A contextual approach of the poems is also provided parallel to the musicological approach of the songs.