Nikos Papavramidis (1907-1995)


Nikos Papavramidis was a prominent first generation Pontic lyra player and singer. He was born in Argyroupoli (Tr: Gumushane) in Pontus in 1907 but was raised in Trapezunta (Tr: Trabzon). He learnt to play the Pontic lyra (kemenche) at the age of 10. After the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey in 1923, he settled in Piraeus, Greece where he continued to play the instrument.

Legend has it that Papavramidis was so obsessed with the lyra that he refused to attend school. When his teacher learnt of his commitment to the instrument, he advised him:  "Words are fantasies; son, play the lyra" (Τα γράμματα φαντάγματα, υιέ μ’ την λύραν παίξον).

Between 1979-80 he worked alongside prominent Greek folk music researcher and performer Domna Samiou and contributed to the Samiou recording Chants des Akrites (Ocora, 1982) which was released in France. Papavramidis and his love for the kemenche was the inspiration for a book of short stories titled Niko's Kemence by Omer Asan. 


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