Nikos Skalkottas

Europe and Democracy

Nikos Skalkottas

The “European idea” of democracy and community—born in 1957 with the Treaty of Rome, which created the foundation for what we know today as the European Union—not only stands for a political ideal; it also represents a cultural identity. As the birthplace of both democracy and theater, Greece plays a special role in this story—a role that, over the past ten years, seems to have been turned on its head with bitter irony. When economic circumstances drive people apart and long forgotten nationalism awakes again, a commitment to dialogue and to the diversity of this shared cultural space is more important than ever.

This is why the European idea, embodied in the legacy of Greek culture, will be a program focus at the Pierre Boulez Saal this season. Representing many others, the composer Nikos Skalkottas (1904–1949), a student of Schoenberg, will be featured with a number of compositions in six concerts. Daniel Barenboim and the Boulez Ensemble also dedicate an entire program to the subject of Greek mythology.

As the nucleus of the European cultural community, Greece has exerted a positive influence on many peoples and nations—but in the recent past, economic and political realities have forced the country into a defensive position. “This is the time when it’s our responsibility to give back,” Daniel Barenboim says. “And as artists, we can only do so through art.” 

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