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Jani Christou (Greek: Γιάννης Χρήστου; January 8, 1926 – January 8, 1970) was a Greek composer.

He was born in Heliopolis, Egypt, of Greek parents. He was educated at the English School in Alexandria and he took his first piano lessons from various teachers and from the important Greek pianist Gina Bachauer. In 1948 he gained an MA in philosophy after having studied with Ludwig Wittgenstein and Bertrand Russell in Cambridge.

During that time he also studied music with Hans Redlich and in 1949 travelled to Rome to study orchestration with Angelo Francesco Lavagnino. He briefly attended lectures by Carl Jung in Zurich. In 1951 he returned to Alexandria where he married Theresia Horemi in 1961. He died on his 44th birthday in a car accident in Athens, Greece.

Christou's work is often thought to fall into three broad periods. The works of the first period (1948-58) have been described by Christou himself as freely atonal. In his second phase (1960-64) Christou developed what he called "meta-serialism" whose main emphasis is on polyphony, rhythmic dynamism and instrumental colours. During his third period (1964-70) Christou developed his own notation and he increasingly stressed the improvisatory element.

Main works

Phoenix Music (for orchestra) - 1949
First Symphony - 1949-50
Latin Liturgy - 1953
Six T.S. Elliot Songs (for piano or orchestra & mezzosoprano) - 1955 (piano) / 1957 (orch.)
Symphony no.2 - 1957-8
Toccata for piano and orchestra - 1962
Tongues of Fire (a Pentecost oratorio) - 1964
Persians (Incidental music for Aeschylus' drama) - 1965
Agamemnon - 1965
Enantiodromia - 1965-8
The Frogs 1966
Mysterion (for orchestra, tape, choir & soloists) - 1965-6
Praxis for 12 (for 11 string instruments & director-pianist) - 1966
Anaparastasis I (The baritone) - 1968
Anaparastasis III (The pianist) - 1968
Oedipus Rex - 1969
Oresteia (unfinished) - 1967-70


Lucciano, Anne Martine: Jani Christou, Works and Personality of a Greek composer of our era, Yorgos Leotsakos trans., Bibliosynergatiki, Athens, 1987

Further reading

Leotsakos, George. 2001. "Christou, Jani". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
Slonimsky, Nicolas. 1965. "New Music in Greece". Musical Quarterly 51:225–35.

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