Cretan Musicians & Composers

In the first half of the 20th century, the so-called First-generation Masters in Cretan music were at the height of their powers. Amongst them can be numbered some who had an impact on what followed: such as Rodinos, Baxevanis, Kareklas, Charilaos, Foustalieris, Koutsourelis, and other less known but as influential.

In the second half of the same century, the baton was taken up by the next generation of Greats: Naftis, Skordalos, Mountakis, Klados and others who taught and inspired those now performing today. Then, the blind lyra-player Stravos with his sensitivity and his own personal skills opened the hearts of the youth of Anogeia.

From this generation, and from Anogeia too, came Nikos Xylouris – the ‘Archangel’ of Cretan music, who died at the height of his powers.

Today this musical legacy lives on in a multitude of performers all over the island: many of whom leave their personal mark on its sounds and development. Amongst these are the Irishman Ross Daly, Nikos’ brother Antonis (Psarantonis as he is usually called), the son of Giorgos Xylouris (Psarogiorgis) .. and many other talented and significant artists.

Below, in chronological order, are set out the most important and older musical strands in this tradition .. along with their most important practioners. Living or dead, they all have broadened the musical horizons.

With every piece, you can listen to typical examples of the music .. or watch videos of that particular artist performing.

Stelios Foustalieris

Κρητικοί χοροί. Πεντοζάλης Stelios Foustalieris or Foustalierakis as he is sometimes called, lived and worked in Rethymno (1911-1992): one of the highest ranking artists of the First-Generation, he is particularly Rethymniot.


Nikos Xylouris

Music tradition of Crete. Nikos Xylouris Beginning life in a shepherding clan on Psiloritis, Xylouris went on to become a great musician: indeed rather more than that! He not only revived the older Cretan musical tradition, but managed to stamp his personality, his ethics and his interpretive genius on one of the most important periods in modern Greek history.



Μουσική Παράδοση της Κρήτης. Ψαραντώνης. Κρητικοί Καλλιτέχνες Στο σκληρό τοπίο των θρυλικών Ανωγείων της Κρήτης που έγινε ακόμη πιο σκληρό και πιο γυμνό από τις φωτιές του Β’ Παγκοσμίου Πολέμου, ήρθε στον κόσμο ο Αντώνης Ξυλούρης - Ψαραντώνης που έμελλε να γίνει ένας ζωντανός θρύλος της μουσικής, εμπλουτίζοντας την κρητική, τη μεσογειακή και την ευρωπαϊκή μουσική με ήχους ανεπανάληπτους, με μουσικές εξαίσιες και ερμηνείες απαρομοίαστες και μοναδικές.


Ross Daly

Music Tradition of Crete. Ross DalyAlthough of Irish descent, Ross Daly does not really fit into any particular ethnic stereotype given that his life has been spend in many different parts of the world and his home for the last 35 years is the island of Crete in Greece. Ross Daly, at a very early age, discovered that music was, in his own words, "the language of my dialogue with that which I perceive to be sacred".


Giorgos Xylouris

Music Tradition of Crete. Giorgos Xylouris (Psarogiorgis) Giorgos Xylouris (or Psarogiorgis) is Crete’s leading performer of the island’s traditional music. He plays one of its favoured instruments, the lute, and sings its distinctive forms of lyric.


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