Simon Karas – Biography

Simon Karas was a musicologist and a researcher of the Greek musical tradition and heritage. It is widely believed that his long-standing and arduous investigative effort was responsible for salvaging a large part of traditional music which he recorded throughout the Greek territory. He was born in 1903 in Lepreon (formerly known as Strovici) a village in the prefecture of Ileia. His initiation into music started from a very young age, with his father who played the tambourine and the village priest fasther Stathis Lambrinopoulos who taught him to read and write and encouraged him to pursue his studies in music. 

Simon Karas came to Athens in 1921 having entered Law School, where he completed his studies but never received a degree. He began his musical studies and research on his own away from organised auditoriums. He studies the theoretical works of the Ancient Greek, Byzantine, and post-Byzantine writers, he explores, deciphers, and construes old musical manuscripts from libraries such as that of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, Mount Athos, the National Library, and others. This way he succeeds in gradually becoming a unique self-taught music teacher. 



Between 1931 and 1934, Karas was a chanter in the chapel of Prophet Elisha in Monastiraki Athens. In 1929 he establishes the Society for the spread of the National Music in which he worked until the end of his life and developed a multi faceted and significant activity concerning the act of chanting and folklore songs. He founded a music school with six-year-long courses which were completely gratis, the ecclesiastical choir, the Mixed Choir of National Songs and also a dance group. The society’s choirs appeared a number of times on the show “ Elliniki Antilali” (Echoes of Greece) which Simon Karas himself hosted with its topic always being Greek traditional music from all over the country. The show aired from 1937 the first year of the foundation of the Greek Radio until 1972. 


He published a great number of books and records, especially since 1972. He archived folklore songs all around Greece using a tape recorder which was then published as records and did the same also for all the Hymns of the church. He passed away in 1999 at the age of 96. His work and archives are managed by the Center of Research and Promotion of National Music -Musical Folklore and Literary Archives of Simon and Aggeliki Kara. (KEPEM), which was established by his wife Aggeliki in 2009. Its purpose is to salvage and promote the Greek traditional music (both ecclesiastical and secular), Greek dances, musical instruments, the customs and traditions of the Greek culture, and preserve and publish them to wider audiences with scientific integrity. Also, it aims to preserve and bring out the building which houses the school and also the home of Simon Karas so that it corresponds to the more up-to-date methods of teaching and research.



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