George Violakis

Archon Protopsaltes of the Great Church of Christ


George Violakis was distinguished as an Archcantor of the Great Church and as a teacher of music. His initial surname seems to be Sifnios, whereas the surname Violakis was assigned to him by his teacher in Chios Nicholas Poulakis due to the «sweet-sounding and honey-flowing» of his voice.

From 1843 to 1875, he sung as a Lambadarios (for 11 years) and subsequently as a Protopsaltes of the St John at Galata, Constantinople. During that period, he had as a supervisor in his music studies Theodore Phokeus. Phokaeus mentions in his Anthology that in 1869 the protopsaltes of that Church was George Sifnios, and includes an eight-mode lesson on the apolytikion of the three Hierarchs. From the above, we can conclude that the archcantor George Sifnios and G. Violakis are the same person.

From 1875, he was hired as Archcantor by the Patriarchate.

Very importat was his contribution as a member of the Music Committee of 1881 for the creation of the music instrument «Psalter», and the measurement of the tonal distances of byzantine music. He also took part in several other music committes, such as that of 1897 which studied the ancient music notation, a manuscript of Keltzantides.

Together with the Metropolitans of Ainos, Samos, Cæsaria, and Lesbos, he took part in the five-member synodically-appointed committee. They reconsidered the previous Typika of the Church due to Constantine Protopsaltes that were in use at the time; and in a report corrected their mistakes and ambiguities. Later, he published the completed and corrected Typikon, which is still in use today.

Believing that the ancient compositions are sufficient, and that the Church does not need new ones, he composed very few lessons, which moreover have the character and the benefits of the ancient melodies.

For his death, it was characteristically written that: «there vanished forever the only existing living musical monument, which was respected by a whole century.»