Nikolaos Lavdas and the Athenian Mandolinata Orchestra and Conservatory: history

Nicolas Lavdas for programsNikolaos (Nicola) Lavdas (Pitrofos, Andros, Greece, 1879 – Athens, Greece, 30/3/1940) was a Greek conductor, composer and educator. He also had a PhD in Physics from the University of Athens.
He was the founder and director of the “Athenian Mandolinata”, one of the oldest music associations and music schools in Greece.

He studied at the Athens Conservatory and he also took private classes with Dionyssios Lavrangas. While still a student, he started working towards the formation of a musical ensemble, and in 1896 he formed a mandolin quartet (2 mandolins, mandola, guitar) with his brother Konstantinos Lavdas and Vassileios Mitsou. The name “Athenian Mandolinata” made its first appearance on that year.  Καρφίτσα Μανδολινάτας

Four years later he formed an ensemble made up of 20 musicians and gave his first concert in the “Parnassus” hall in Athens on May the 26th, 1900. The success of this appearance led to the formal establishment of the “Athenian Mandolinata”, and by 1901 the Mandolinata had its own conservatory, teaching various instruments (mandolin, guitar, violin, cello, flute), vocal music and music theory. As the director of the “Athenian Mandolinata” orchestra, he conducted the orchestra in the interim Olympic Games of Athens (1906), for the king of Italy Vittorio Emmanuele (1907) and for Kaiser Wilhelm in Corfu’s “Achilleion” (1910). The orchestra started performing abroad, too, with appearances in Cairo and Alexandria (1907), Smyrna (1908), New York (1912).

mandolinata ateniese Atene 1910

One of the most important moments for the orchestra and its conductor was in 1910, when they received the first prize in Cremona, competing among 32 ensembles from all over Europe, and N. Lavdas received the first prize for conducting.

Here are some excerpts from PLETTRO magazine issues from the 30th of May (top) and 15th of May 1910 (bottom left) giving extensive coverage of the contest. The text on the bottom right, belongs to Alexander Philadelpheus, President of the Mandolinata, informing Athenians of the welcoming celebrations organized for the returning winners, and inviting them to participate.

Nikolaos Lavdas held the post of director of the Orchestra and Conservatory, while Zakharias Papantoniou was its first president, and Prince Nikolaos of Greece its honorary president.

27067350_1562124733840687_6824665634789849855_n

“Orfeus”, published in the Greek language in Egypt. Year 2, issue 14-15, November-December 1911. Abstract from an interview of N. Lavdas ” I will never forget the frenzy of the Cremonese during the eve of the concertone in the great Ponchielli theatre, with 4000 people and 50 maestros from all over Europe in the audience. I had to play the Hellenic Rhapsody and the Cretan dance 4 times. The next day, all of Cremona was asking for copies, which I promised to send but have not managed yet. I had even requests from Bombay, Berlin, Paris, London and the US. The Kaiser himself asked for a copy of the Cretan dance after the Mandolinata played in Corfu, at the Achilleon, so in this case I had to make a fresh handwritten copy for the Emperor”.

σάρωση011s

N. Lavdas was also an educator, not only within the Athenian Mandolinata Conservatory, but also in the “Arsakeion School” and also in the Schools of the “Philekpaideftiki” Society (1913-1937); he was also a state-appointed general inspector of music in highschool education (1937-1940).

Κάρτα επιθεωρητής Κάρτα Καραγεώργη

He wrote mandolin and guitar method books, and a theory of music textbook. Among his students were Dimitris Dounis, Ilias Alessios, Konstantinos Kydoniatis, Spyros Skiadaresis, Miltiades Koutoungos, and his nephew Antonis K Lavdas. Nikolaos Lavdas and his brother Konstantinos Lavdas, were founding members of AEPI (the Greek equivalent to GEMA, BMI etc).

Εγχειρίδιον θεωρίας της Μουσικής Mέθοδος Κιθάρας
Like so many other artists and scientists he was a Freemason, becoming a Master Mason in 1920.
In recognition of his great achievements in music, he received the Cross of the Savior from King George the first of Greece.

Αθηναϊκη Μανδολινάτα

Nικόλαος Λάβδας c

 

The outbreak of WWII and the death of N. Lavdas in 1940 resulted in the dissolution of the orchestra and the conservatory.

 

Below, recent photograph of the Mandolinata’s building in Athens

Karageorgi_Servias_9_Athens_Mandolinata_Building_s

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s