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Why write a post on ancient Greek drama? For the very simple reason that there are things to learn? Why were these plays performed and who was this author and playwright? To find out more click Sophocles.


A Statue of Sophocles in the Naples Museum in Italy, courtesy of Wikipedia

The author Sophocles had lived through the Persian and Greek Peloponnesian Wars. His best known plays form part of the so called Thebian plays.

We  really do not have a very good idea how these plays were performed physically, but we have the old preserved texts. What did they sound like? You would have to study the classics and theater to know the full answers. Half a century ago you could hear performances on records! Yes even in the Greek language. One of the outstanding record companies of that time was Folkways Records. Their archives and music have been extensively preserved by the Smithsonian Institute and the University of Alberta.

Here are some images of the Sophocles drama’s on record in their archives. The art work on both black and white record covers below is by Sue Somers and the Antigone Drama is felt from just looking at the cover art.

The first image below is from a 1959 performance at McGill University in Montreal, Canada and the second one is from a different Sophocles’ play a 1960 performance by students from Amherst College in Massachusetts.

canvas 1959 sue somers canvas2 design sue somers 1960The earliest performance on a Folkways record I have been able to find is one made in 1957 by the students of Columbia University in New York in the GREEK language. This particular one is our own collection.

The record cover art is by Carlis. The Smithsonian lists their copy of the record as FW09912 / FP 9912 / FL 9912.

I am assuming my copy above is an earlier release, it carries the number FP97/12. The cover is otherwise identical but with an additional note on ours. Who knows what the real story is behind that cover. Somethings are destined to remain a mystery, but not Sophocles, not even in “spoken Greek.”

private40 025Perhaps there are other record labels with earlier Sophocles performances in obscure collections, I would love to know!