Haralabos [Harry] Stafylakis:
Gnothi Seauton [Know Thyself]
arranged for clarinet, violin, cello and piano
The Ancient Greek aphorism “know thyself” (Greek: γνῶθι σεαυτόν [gnōthi seauton]) is one of the Delphic maxims and was inscribed in the pronaos of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. This served, perhaps, as a helpful bit of advice to supplicants before presenting their questions to the oracle.
In 2018, I traveled for the first time to Greece, my familial homeland. This pilgrimage was one of exploration and of self-discovery – a quest for a better understanding of my cultural and ethnic roots, an attempt to forge a connection with two expansive family branches I barely knew.
On the way to discovering the first of these familial communities, I visited the site of Ancient Delphi on Mount Parnassus. Standing in front of the 24-century-old ruins of the Temple of Apollo, I could feel viscerally the symbolic import of that aphorism – know thyself – that would have greeted me there in another era.
This piece was composed in the days immediately following one of the most significant events of my life, upon my return to New York. It is a contemplation on the ideas of identity, home, and belonging.
Gnothi Seauton, originally for piano trio, was commissioned by Periapsis Music and Dance (NYC) with the support of New Music USA. It constitutes the musical foundation for a collaborative creation with choreographer Norbert De La Cruz III.
This quartet version – including my grandfather Angelos Drosopoulos’s instrument, the clarinet – was created for Unheard-Of Ensemble and ICEBERG New Music.
—HS | www.hstafylakis.com