An Epirotic OdysseyPrint
One man’s quest to uncover Europe’s oldest surviving folk music
By Stephanie Bastek
June 1, 2018
Imagine there’s a place where music exists as it was first created, thousands and thousands of years ago, a place where song and dance still glued communities together across generations. That place exists: Epirus, a little pocket of northwestern Greece on the border with Albania. There, in scattered mountain villages, people still practice a musical tradition that predates Homer. In his new book, Lament from Epirus, the obsessive record collector—and Grammy-winning producer and musicologist—Christopher King goes on an odyssey to uncover Europe’s oldest surviving folk music, and spins us some rare 78s.
Go beyond the episode:
- Christopher King’s Lament from Epirus
- Buy LPs, CDs, or MP3s of Chris’s Epirotic collections, from Five Days Married and Other Laments to Why the Mountains Are Black
- Read Christopher King’s Paris Review essay, “Talk About Beauties,” about the lost recordings of Alexis Zoumbas
All images below courtesy of W. W. Norton.
Listen to A Lament for Epirus (1926–1928) by Alexis Zoumbas, mastered and produced by Christopher King
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Our theme music was composed by Nathan Prillaman.
Stephanie Bastek is the associate editor of the Scholar and the producer/host of the Smarty Pants podcast.