Christos Pittas was born in Alexandria, Egypt to Greek parents and was brought up in Cyprus, place of origin of his father, the artist Mikes Pittas. He began his music studies at the age of eight. At sixteen he was awarded his violin diploma from the National Conservatoire of Cyprus. Around the same time some of his first compositions were publicly performed and recorded by CBC. Soon after his family moved permanently to Athens, Greece and in 1964, at the age of nineteen, Christos was teaching music at the Athens National Conservatoire.

Christos PittasGreek music was undergoing a transformation at the time with composers Manos Hadjidakis and Mikis Theodorakis, pioneering a new approach to song-writing which aimed at bridging the gap between the Popular and the Modern - Classical music genres. Pittas, like many young composers of his generation, was also attracted to that movement.

He set to music poems by Nikos Kavadias, Kostas Varnalis, Pavlos Matesis as well as his own and had some of them recorded, with popular singers Grigoris Bithikotsis, Sophia Moutsiou and Popi Asteriadi and released under the commercial labels of Columbia, Cortina and Lyra.

The 1967 military coup changed dramatically the socio-political situation in Greece. Theodorakis was imprisoned and his music banned. Pittas left Greece for Britain in 1969.

1970 - 1974

During these years, the ongoing struggle for freedom and democracy in Greece determined to a great extent the character and the aims of Pittas’s activities and creativity. He composed songs which he performed, together with those of Theodorakis, accompanying on the piano various singers, in live concerts as well as BBC broadcasts. (Years later he was in fact appointed Head of the BBC Greek Section and held that position from 1994 to 1997).

In the spring of 1970 he was asked, at a very short notice, to orchestrate for symphony orchestra, soloists and choir, Theodorakis’s latest large scale work, the Oratorio "March of the Spirit". The composer himself conducted the Oratorio in June 1970, when finally released from Greece, at a Royal Albert Hall concert with the London Symphony Orchestra, the Gualia and the New Opera Choruses.

Maria Farantouri At that concert Theodorakis and Pittas shared in turns the conductor’s podium. The struggle for freedom and democracy in Greece during these years is reflected not only in the many songs Pittas composed at the time but also in some of his larger scale compositions of the same period, such as "Sivilla" (1971, performed in part at London’s Cambridge Theatre) "Epitaphios" (recorded in 1972, with actress Aspasia Papathanasiou and the London Chamber Soloists) "Songs of the Exile and November Uprising" (performed in 1974 at London’s The Round House, with Maria Farantouri as soloist).

It was also during the same period that another kind of development in his music life and career put Pittas into a music path which, to a great extent, shaped his aims as a composer. The "development" was a BBC commission for Pittas to write the music for one of its Drama Department productions, thus bringing his music, for the first time, within a dramatic context.

Listen to Music extract 4, Merchant of Venice.

Go to Music in Drama


Music by Christos Pittas

"Xaplose ligo sto Krevati" (Lie in Bed for a While) Lyrics and Music by Christos Pittas, singer Grigoris Bithikotsis.

"To Karanti" music on a poem by Nikos Kavadias

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"Songs of the Exile and the November Uprising"

Maria Farantouri in concert, singing Pittas, at London’s Round House


Extract from a 2009 performance of a symphonic work by Christos Pittas based on his song "Songs of the Exile and November Uprising"

With Katerina Mina, Soprano and the ERT Symphony Orchestra and Chorus under A.Pylarinos.

Extracts from "The Merchant of Venice" (Shakespeare)

Music intro and Love Scene. BBC Production, director Ian Cotterel.

The composer conducts the London Philomusica.