Death of a Greek music philosopher

Death of a Greek music philosopher


norman lebrecht

November 29, 2015

We are receiving, from pupils and friends, news of the death of George Hadjinikos, a much revered pianist and thinker about music whose students included the conductor Theodore Currentzis. George, who divided his time between Athens and London, died this morning in Athens of a heart attack. He was 92.


george Hadjinikos1


A student of Carl Orff, George became an influential figure in Manchester from the 1960s, teaching at the Royal Northern and conducting orchestras around the county. His signature pieces as a soloist were concertos by Schoenberg, Skalkottas and Bartók, an unconventional offering. He wrote three books: on Skalkottas, Mozart recitatives and ‘The Essence and Origins of Musical Interpretation’.

He touched the lives of many thousands of musicians.

George Hadjinikos


  • Mike says:

    Very sad news. A rare gentleman and a uniquely intelligent musician. He was my piano (!) teacher at the RNCM, but he quickly sacked me from this role, and spent countless hours during my years there, teaching me, and a few other disciples, how to thoroughly understand scores, from Bach to Tippett. Happy memories of playing endless string quartets in his room. RIP George.

  • Alexandros Rigas says:

    From his youtube channel some interesting recordings:

    Schoenberg PC, Paris, 1962:
    Barber Sonata, Hamburg, 1953:
    Berg, Sonata, Athens, 1967:
    Bartok, Bagatelles, BBC, 1973:
    Ravel, Gaspard de la nuit, BBC, 1968:
    Rawsthorne, PC No 2, Barbirolli, 1967:

    RIP Mr Hadjinikos.

  • Kelvin Paisley says:

    Farewell to a beloved teacher and friend. My mind is full of memories of this truly inspiring servant of music, whose legacy will survive in the many musicians his life touched.

    • muriel levin says:

      A musical and intellectual giant, through his warmth and humanity GH touched the humblest of us at the most profound levels, opening ways into music and life that we would not have found otherwise. A truly great human being.

      • Alan Thorpe says:

        Hi Muriel, I only just found out about the death of George Hadjinikos. I remember his as a very patient teacher and a deep thinker about music. I also recall the concert at the Purcell Room in which you also played. I feel some regret that I never met him in recent years but will always be grateful to him, not only for my musical education but for his confidence boosting approach to life in general.

  • Jonathan Leathwood says:

    We must make our own way in music, but at the same time everyone needs help from time to time. It was George’s remarkable gift to know how to offer true help where it was desperately needed and to offer it with the utmost generosity. Thank you, George.

  • Graham Marshall says:

    I have only had the privilege of meeting George in recent years, and it has always been a great pleasure to be in his company. He has been to my home in Rochdale on a couple of occasions and played my upright piano for an enthralled group of family and friends at a Birthday party He has also attended an orchestral rehearsal I was conducting, and he was very generous in his praise of the ensemble’s music-making. I think that his contribution to music-making and to the understanding of the nature, power and value of music over the years cannot be over-estimated. May he rest in heavenly peace and harmony.

  • Harvey Davies says:

    A truly remarkable musician and human being. What he didn’t know about how to interpret the music of the Second Viennese School and Schoenberg in particular wasn’t worth knowing, for example. Kind, erudite, caring and deeply interesting it was an honour to have known you Mr. Hadjinikos. RIP.

  • Christos Kokkinos says:

    I shall always remember Mr Hadjinikos very fondly. Always inspiring to watch him teach and demonstrate his findings, he coached my chamber music group for few sessions while I was at music college. I had numerous discussion with George regarding music and its power to reach in a direct way the human soul and mind. His vast knowledge and experience as a music educator and performer – a kind of music guru as I would like to think of him, always researching and refining his ideas about music as a communication tool – must have influenced thousands of students and his peers to think of music as the greatest medium of communication, a gift for the whole humanity. Thank you, George, for all you have taught me. Your spirit and energy will always stay with me for ever.

  • Μανούσος Χαιρέτης says:

    Ο Θεός να τον αναπαύσει και να του ανταποδώσει εις πολλαπλούν την αγάπη που πρόσφερε στους ανθρώπους.Θα ζει πάντα κοντά μας. Εύχομαι Θέωση στην ψυχή του.

    May God return in multiple all love he has given to people. He will live always near us. Our payers for Theosis to his soul.

  • George Hlawiczka says:

    A truly inspiring musician and human being, I was fortunate to meet him in the 80s when I remember the energy and personality oozing out of him when he was coaching us on the Franck piano quintet. Next time I met him 20 years later in a masterclass I arranged for conductors. He had changed in what I remembered in that he had a profound wisdom and so much knowledge of music and past musicians. We worked on Bruckner’s 4th symphony and Schnittke’s concertino for 4 hands. He talk about Furtwangler and conducting through certain impulses, not much movement. So very different from todays methods both from conductor and soloists. He understood what made music tick. Certain intervals, rhythms and was full of stories about the compositions, stories that were passed down from great musicians or composers themselves. The last time I saw him aged 91 was at his festival in Horto when at the end of the final concert he proceeded to play Franck’s Prelude Choral and Fugue, which was a feat of pure will given that he didn’t have the flexibility of his hands at his age and seemed to be playing with a limited number of fingers. I was looking forward to study the Skalkottas violin concerto with him, something he wanted to do together and a composer he championed since discovering his manuscripts in Berlin’s second hand book shops after the war. My wish is that we help Nikos Adraskelas (one of his pupils who directs the Horto festival which Hadjinkos founded) continue the wonderful heritage he has left. Do keep your eyes and ears open for way you can support this.

  • Shirley Mitchell says:

    Having known George for 50+ years as my music teacher, “brother”, close family friend, as conductor of the Bury Orchestra and the North Campus Choir, and in the last years his carer, this loss is a great one as it is for others who were profoundly touched by him. He will not be easily replaced as he was a very special human being. Rest in peace, dear Soul.

  • Keith Bentley says:

    George set out to discover the truth within any composition, and in so doing, revealed the beauty within the music.
    This is seen in his early championing of the works of Schoenberg, Orff and others, and in his lifelong study of the music of Skalkottas.
    As a teacher, he did not sit easily within the English Conservatory System of delivering knowledge in sound-bites. His method was the same road of discovery which he employed in his own musical life.
    When you accepted lessons with George, a student entered on an adventure, and you developed from moving in a small confined space, into the discovery of a world of infinite possibilities and rare musical outcomes.
    As a man, he lived a simple life, seeing the possibilities in everyone, embracing the good, avoiding censorship , and overcoming the hardships thrown his way.
    Two personal reminiscences from the 1960’s and 1970’s :-
    I recall attending Prof.Hadjinikos class at 10am in the old Royal Manchester College – leaving with him and several other students at 6pm – George still leading the musical discussion as we walked down Oxford Road to the train station. He then bundling me in a taxi with Madame Vera Rosza for a free lift to Piccadilly Station.
    On his first visit To Redcar to conduct the Easter Orchestral Course , he approached the steps of the college carrying his favourite fruit – large red oranges – in both hands. The Prinicipal ,Mr Robinson (an engineer) waited at the top of the entrance steps with out-stretched hand, in the old English manner. George’s reaction was typical. He presented the out-stretched hand with the best of his oranges, and gave Mr Robinson a warm continental hug.
    I agree with previous comments he was a giant, as a man, and musician.My children always called him Uncle George.

  • Κωστής Χασιώτης, Αναπληρωτής Καθηγητής, Τμήμα Μουσικής Επιστήμης και Τέχνης,Πανεπιστήμιο Μακεδονίας says:

    Πριν από ένα περίπου μήνα η μουσική κοινότητα της Ελλάδας έχασε μια μεγάλη προσωπικότητα, τον πιανίστα, διευθυντή ορχήστρας και μουσικοπαιδαγωγό κ. Γιώργο Χατζηνίκο. Οι περισσότεροι αγνοούν την συνεισφορά του μαέστρου στα μουσικά πράγματα όχι μόνο της Ελλάδας, αλλά και διεθνώς. Ένα από τα προβλήματα με το έργο των μουσικών ερμηνευτών είναι πως αυτό λησμονείται και χάνεται, πέρα από κάποιες ηχογραφήσεις, μετά το θάνατό τους, σε αντίθεση με αυτό των ζωγράφων, συνθετών και συγγραφέων. Η προσφορά του Χατζηνίκου έχει συνδεθεί, θεωρώ δικαίως, με την προβολή και διάδοση του έργου του εθνικού μας συνθέτη Νίκου Σκαλκώτα στο εξωτερικό αλλά και στην Ελλάδα. Όχι μόνο κατόρθωσε να διασώσει μια σειρά σημαντικών έργων του μεγάλου δημιουργού, αλλά το κυριότερο, κατάφερε να τα αναδείξει με όπλο την προσωπική του ερμηνευτική διαίσθηση, και μάλιστα στο διεθνές ακροατήριο με πρώτες παγκόσμιες εκτελέσεις (τα τρία κονσέρτα για πιάνο, κονσέρτο για κοντραμπάσο, Κύκλος των Πέντε έργων για πνευστά και πιάνο, «Παραμυθόδραμα» κλπ). Είναι πολύ σημαντικό ότι πρώτες διεθνείς εκτελέσεις δύσκολων, ερμηνευτικά, έργων έγιναν από τον ίδιο μερικά χρόνια μετά το θάνατο ενός συνθέτη ο οποίος έως τότε παρέμενε παντελώς αγνοημένος στην πατρίδα του. Σε τελική ανάλυση ο Χατζηνίκος φαίνεται να «εξώθησε» τη χώρα του να αναγνωρίσει τη μεγαλοφυΐα του Σκαλκώτα. Όμως η προσφορά του Χατζηνίκου επεκτείνεται και στην ερμηνεία έργων για πιάνο ή συμφωνικών έργων συνθετών όπως οι Bartok, Hindemith, Orff, Schönberg, Copland, Barber κλπ. σε περίοδο που αυτοί ήταν εν ζωή και οι οποίοι αναγνώρισαν την ουσιαστική προσέγγιση του έργου τους στο πρόσωπο του μαέστρου. Για το Τμήμα Μουσικής Επιστήμης και Τέχνης, του οποίου ο κ. Χατζηνίκος υπήρξε Επίτιμος Διδάκτορας από το 2010 και στο οποίο επί σειρά ετών προσέφερε τις γνώσεις και την αγάπη του ως προσκεκλημένος καθηγητής, η συνεισφορά του έγκειται κυρίως στην αγάπη για τη μουσική που είχε την ικανότητα να εμπνεύσει στους φοιτητές, ανεξαρτήτως οργάνου, η οποία πήγαζε όχι μόνο από τις τεράστιες γνώσεις και την πολυετή του σολιστική εμπειρία, αλλά, κυρίως, από την ολιστική προσέγγιση που είχε στο ζήτημα της μουσικής ερμηνείας, κάτι που καθιστούσε την συμμετοχή στα σεμινάριά του μια πραγματική εμπειρία ζωής για όλους τους φοιτητές. Η ερμηνεία των έργων δεν γινόταν ποτέ μέσα από τεχνικές οδηγίες, αλλά μέσα από μεγάλες συζητήσεις που τοποθετούσαν το εκάστοτε έργο στο ιστορικό του πλαίσιο και αναδείκνυαν τα στοιχεία του αισθήματος που κάθε φορά ήταν επιδιωκόμενο να αναδυθεί. Η όλη διαδικασία γινόταν πάντοτε με διαλογικό τρόπο και ποτέ μέσω υποβολής μιας «αυθεντίας». Με τον τρόπο αυτό οι συμμετέχοντες μπορούσαν πάντα να σκέφτονται και να αξιολογούν οι ίδιοι τον τρόπο ερμηνείας, το δικό τους ή των συναδέλφων τους. Οι φοιτητές και καθηγητές που είχαμε την τύχη να συνεργαστούμε μαζί του θα τον θυμόμαστε για την πραότητα, το χιούμορ, την ενεργητικότητα και την μεταδοτικότητά του, αλλά και το βάθος και τη συνέπεια της σκέψης του.

  • Alan Thorpe says:

    I studied piano with George Hadjinikos at the then Royal Manchester College of Music from 1961 to 1965. As a nervous student he gave me the confidence to gain my GRSM ‘with special merit in performance.’ He also encouraged me to accept a piano teaching post in Malaysia which gave me a new approach to music, life and people. I heard him play Alan Rawsthorne’s second piano concerto with the Halle Orchestra and Sir John Barbirolli on the occasion of Rawsthorne’s 60th birthday and heard many of his BBC radio broadcasts which included concertos by Bartok, Ravel and Tchaikovsky. I will always remember him as deeply thoughtful, selfless and very patient teacher who dedicated his life to music and to his students.

  • Peter Norfolk Brown says:

    I was introduced to George by an ex-pupil of his who did not speak Greek but wanted to read his Mozart book. In the end I translated it into English, spending many hours with George at his house in Altrincham and on the phone in the process. He did not find a publisher for the translation which is pity as it is far more than its title, ‘Recitative in Mozart’s Operas’, suggests: it is in essence a broadly philosophical work, rooted in George’s experience, richly reflecting his own unique personality and liberally illustrated with fascinating anecdote. If anyone would like a copy I’d be happy to email one (65 pages A4). I am sure that George would be delighted if his thoughts had wider circulation.

    • Kostis Hassiotis says:

      Dear Peter,

      I would be very much interested in your translation, I am using Hadjinikos’ book in Greek for some of my lectures at the University and it would be very handy to have a direct translation of his thinking by an Englishman.

      My sincere thanks.

    • DANIEL C FINE says:

      If it is still available, I would like an emailed copy of ‘Recitative in Mozart’s Operas’. With your permission I will make it available to the many pianists, composers and listeners who are members of the Facebook group “Great Historical Piano Recordings”. I’ve already posted two of his YouTube videos there.