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USF Libraries Exhibits



This section contains two interesting primary documents.

In the early 20th century, priests and others in America began to compose new Greek Orthodox liturgical music that abandoned the traditional Byzantine modes and single vocal line. The new music with European scales was often presented in a westernized style through choirs accompanied by organs. Among those associated with the progressive style was George Anastasiou, who arrived in the U.S. from Cyprus in 1920. He settled in Tarpon Springs in 1924, where he became the principal of the Greek Parochial School, organized the Byzantine Choir, and served as head chanter at St. Nicholas Greek from 1931 to 1941.

Anastasiou composed liturgical music and edited the Greek-Byzantine Liturgical Hymnal[i] used in most Greek Orthodox churches of his time. In the English introduction to the Hymnal, he delineates the research and sources that helped him formulate Greek Orthodox choral music. Long after its original publication, his hymnal remains the standard for many Greek Orthodox choirs in the U.S. 

On the website for the Library of Congress/American Folklife Center’s Florida Folklife from the WPA Collections[ii] are sound recordings and manuscript materials from throughout Florida collected by Work Projects Administration (WPA) workers from 1937-42. Of the two collection trips to Tarpon Springs, the second was conducted by John Filareton, who appears to have been from its Greek community. His notes to the recordings give some sense of the range of community music and musicians in 1940.

[i] George Anastasiou, Greek-Byzantine Liturgical Hymnal (Classic, Minor, Major and Chromatic Melodies), edited by Zenon Anastassiou. Anastasiou: 1944 (1987), pages IB-12, 14, 16.