Vourliotis Nikos | Samos | Biographical data
• Place of birth

Pagondas, Samos
• Short biography

Nikos Vourliotis was born in 1932, the village of Pagondas, in Samos. He is a musician, and plays the violin. His father, Stefanos Vourliotis, was a cobbler, and a singer in the church choir. After primary school, Nikos Vourliotis began working as a cobbler, and took up music in 1951. The adverse economic conditions of the era, however, meant he had to start performing on a professional basis a few years later.

On learning music, he said: “I had some experience with Byzantine music. […] And my father, he said, I’ll teach you music. Oh! I’d grown up with it, too, because my father often sang at home, I don’t know, and it fired me up. You know how it is […] then I started on a guitar, from my uncle […]. He died in thirty-eight [1938]. And I found, there was a guitar there, I tied some strings on […]”. On the bouzouki, he said: “there was a teacher here, who taught the guitar, but later on I liked the bouzouki a lot, and I took that up. Someone had […], my father was a cobbler, and there was a fellow cobbler who had a bouzouki and played a bit, and he leant it to me sometimes, he’d say, take it, and I took it home and practiced a bit.”

At the time, the musical instruments most commonly played were the violin, the guitar, the accordion and the santouri. Speaking of his musical career, Nikos Vourliotis said: “We had formed a band over here, with three or four or sometimes five members, we got together, and went to festivals, weddings, that sort of thing. I played with someone called Dimitris Arvanitidis […] [And] Rolandos, yes. […]”

Nikos Vourliotis performed in festivals all across Samos, on a regular basis. He didn’t just play in Samos, however. In fact, in 1985 and 1986, he toured the islands of the Dodecanese: “Then we went down to the Dodecanese, on tour, the Dodecanese, with some lady singers.”

He worked as a professional musician in Greece until 1964. Following that, he continued his career as a musician in Belgium, for around 36 years [until 2000]. Then he stopped performing, and now only plays music for his own pleasure: “[In reference to Belgium, he said:] I played up there. We played all the time. And for the last seven years, I played with this Greek lad up there. […] His name is Leonidas Pangalis.” Musician’s fees weren’t set, but they were comparatively better abroad than in Greece, which, combined with the economic difficulties of the time, forced many musicians to migrate.

According to Nikos Vourliotis, the music of Samos was influenced by the arrival of refugees and other immigrants. They brought their own cultural heritage, their tunes and their music with them: “There were songs, mainly, without lyrics, only music. Some old zeibekika, the so-called aptaliko […]. A tune. The aptaliko tune… Like I said, the Tselepidakides, the Kaltakides [family or band names]. The Kaltakides were from over there, from Asia Minor. There were others, too, I think, who died. And they played well. They played the Smyrna songs, all that, at the time.”