Dimitris Papadimitriou

“Success is the artwork”

The award-winning composer talks about his career from the first hearings in Alexandria, his interaction as a student with Manos Hadjidakis and his company, his connection with music and how it is enhanced by his love for other arts, describes the meditative process of inspiration and explains why success is just the artwork and an artist cannot talk about career...

Dimitris Papadimitriou

Faithful to the most jealous and conquering art 

By Christina Katsantoni

Translated by Alexandros Theodoropoulos

Connecting with music has never been a matter of choice for Dimitris Papadimitriou. Music knew him before he met it and chose him before he chose it. And that was not necessarily good, but not bad either. However, it was certain from the outset that it left him no room for doubt. Along the way, he discovered that music is the most jealous and conquering art... 

Walks, bathing and football

Born in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, he grew up under the enchanting sky of Alexandria. His first memories include images of a paradise on earth full of smells and colors, where the weather was always good and there was time for walks, bathing and games.

This paradise collapsed when the family was forced to return to Greece illegally, as the regime did not allow them to leave or work. A new chapter began for Dimitris in '66, this time in Athens, with poverty, problems and difficulties regarding the language and adaptation to Greek school.  

What helped him to adapt was love, but also his inclination to football, which worked as a way to connect with a world that others couldn’t understand, living in such times. However, following an injury and a surgery when he was 16 years old, he retired from football for good.  Music had other plans for him.   

The first orchestra

Dimitris Papadimitriou always played music with whatever instrument he could get his hands on; harmonica, melodica, bouzouki, guitar, piano and accordion. He grew up in a house where everyone loved classical music and the first record he bought with his siblings was an anthology of classical pieces.

While growing up, he was fascinated by different genres and instruments. He experienced rock music and found similarities between hard rock and classical music. He admired the bouzouki, was fascinated by the sounds of rebetiko (Greek musical genre) and was stunned to hear for the first time the voice of cantor Thrasyvoulos Stanitsas, which was indelibly engraved on his memory. 

He formed and conducted his first orchestra when he was still in school and his classmates called him "bouzouksi" or "Xarchako". After graduating from school and completing his studies in music, he went to the Law School of Athens. The first thing he saw, when he went to get an ID, was an ad looking for a composer to write music for a performance of “Oedipus Turannus” staged by the University's theater department. This music, which was recorded in the studio of ERT, first reached the ears of Rinio Papanikola, who asked to play it on the radio, and then Manos Hadjidakis heard that music and immediately felt the need to meet the young composer…

Life next to Manos

During his first visit as a young student to Manou Street in Pangrati, Dimitris Papadimitriou met, among others, Elytis, Tsarouchis, Moralis and Koun in an atmosphere of sadness and silence. It was the day that Hadjidakis buried his mother. Their acquaintance continued in the following days in the hangouts of Manos Hadjidakis in the centre of Athens. He became his assistant and next to him he met all the intellectual and art people that Manos used to interact with daily. 

At Easter 1980, Hadjidakis presented him among the 6 composers of the Third Program. A year later, he released his first album entitled "Landscapes". By then he had already composed works for piano, violin, a symphonic suite for ballet, an overture for the 40 years of post-war BBC and an electric post-symphonic suite. 

Since then, numerous albums have followed with collaborations with great artists and compositions for theatre, cinema, television series, leading Greek poets and of course, symphonic music.

The love of others

For Dimitris Papadimitriou success in art is essentially the participation in it; the work itself is success. It has nothing to do with money or fame, but with the love of others. As for the meaning of life, it is hidden in some verses of Andreas Embirikos who, as he says, respond to the major ones: "Our life purpose is not vanity and meanness… The purpose of our life is love ... The purpose of our life is the meaningful acceptance of our life...".