Spachis Thrasivoulos | Samos | Biographical data
• Place of birth

Pythagoreio, Samos
• Short biography

Thrasivoulos Spachis was born in Pythagoreio of Samos, in 1927. He was a professional musician, who played and taught the bouzouki. His parents, Christos and Maria, were refugees from Asia Minor. The only other family member to take an interest in music was his father’s brother.

He played the bouzouki at parties, in cafes, and in nightclubs. His interest in music began at a young age, by listening to contemporary music bands. The first instrument he played was the harmonica: “I don’t know, by chance. I don’t even know how I got started [on the harmonica]. I mean, we came here in 1945, from down in Palestine, when the war was over, and I took up the harmonica in 1946. I learnt by myself. So many. So many songs. Oh, those European ones that were popular at the time […] someone called Spyros gave it to me.”

He got his first bouzouki a year later [1947]. Because of circumstances, however, he didn’t take up the instrument until later. Speaking of the bouzouki, and the way one learns to play, he said: “Look, notes are good to know, but you can’t… In practice, that’s what counts. It’s got notes on it, too. If you know those, what good are notes to me? I know them here. Here, from the instrument. Well, all the great ones, the old bouzouki masters, they were self-taught […] There were no composers, nothing like that. They made their own songs.” Thrasivoulos Spachis himself continued to improve his technique on the bouzouki through the practice of imitation and, later, through observation.

On the music bands of Samos during the period of 1940-1950, he claimed: “There were no bouzoukia then, none in Samos. There was only one band, some lads from Pythagoras along with some from Vathy, who called themselves ‘Kaltakides’. That was it, and they were always playing. But they always played rebetika from Asia Minor. Rebetika came from Asia Minor. Laika [urban folk] came later […]. The best band around at that time, professionals, were the ones I told you about, these ‘Kaltakides’… they had a guitar, violins, um, some – what did they call them? – some instruments – trumpets!”

Thrasivoulos Spachis taught several young people to play the bouzouki. He played in parties and festivals in Samos and Macedonia. According to him, the profession of the bouzouki-player improved from 1950 onwards, with the help of great musicians: “When they made the bouzouki illegal. Under Metaxas. The baglamas came out, because it was smaller, and they wouldn’t let you play […]. [On changes in social standing, he said:] Well, Chiotis, Chiotis, later on. Those who wrote laika songs afterwards were old Barbakaris… And more came out later, Tsitsanis, Papaioannis, who weren’t around before. There were no such things. And the bouzouki evolved after the war.”

Samos maintained its social and economic ties with Asia Minor, even after the latter’s Destruction in 1922. When Spachis’ parents arrived to Samos in 1922, they brought their culture with them, and continued to live by their old customs and traditions. This meant that Thrasivoulos grew up listening to songs of Asia Minor, which had a significant impact on his own musical preferences. Speaking of the differences between leisure activities in the past and present, and working conditions, he said: “Now it’s the club itself that pays them. Back then, the clubs didn’t pay. Which is why it’s better for me these days. The money might be less. But it’s guaranteed. […]. I remember, back then, they played until the morning. There was no schedule”.