This Week in History: November 12th to 18th

November 12, 2021


On this day in 1954, Yiannis Chryssomallis, known professionally as Yanni, the Greek New-Age musician (a characteristically non-arousing genre of popular music, often entirely instrumental and used for relaxation or meditation) was born in Kalamata. Yanni displayed musical talent at a young age. His parents encouraged him to learn at his own pace and own way – without formal music training. The self-taught musician continues to use the ‘musical shorthand’ that he developed as a child, rather than employ traditional musical notation. Yanni has received international recognition by producing concerts at historic monuments and by producing videos that have been broadcast on public television. His breakthrough concert, Live at the Acropolis, yielded the second best-selling music concert video of all time. Additional historic sites for Yanni’s concerts have included India’s Taj Mahal, China’s Forbidden City, the United Arab Emirates’ Burj Khalifa, Russia’s Kremlin, Lebanon’s ancient city of Byblos, as well as the Egyptian Pyramids and the Great Sphinx of Giza.


On this day in 1983, the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” was unilaterally and illegally proclaimed, comprising the northeastern portion of the island of Cyprus. Recognized only by Turkey, what Ankara calls ‘Northern Cyprus’ is considered by the rest of the world to be part of the Republic of Cyprus. A Greek-Cypriot military coup d’etat in 1974 backed by the Greek military junta and the Cypriot National Guard, performed as part of an attempt to annex the island to Greece, provided Turkey an excuse for the illegal invasion of Cyprus. This resulted in the eviction of most of the north’s Greek-Cypriot population, the flight of Turkish Cypriots from the south, and the division of the island. In 1975, the ‘Turkish Federated State of Cyprus’ was declared, supposedly as a first step towards a future federated Cypriot state – but it was rejected by the Republic of Cyprus and the United Nations.


On this date in 1973, the Athens Polytechnic Uprising took place. The uprising was a massive demonstration of popular rejection of the Greek military junta of 1967-74. It began on November 14, escalated into an open anti-junta revolt, and ended in bloodshed in the early morning of November 17 after a series of events – starting with a tank crashing through the gates of the Polytechnic. November 17 is observed as a holiday in Greece for all educational establishments. Commemorative services are held and students attend school only for these, while some schools and all universities stay closed on this day. The central location for the commemoration is the campus of the Polytechnic University. The campus is closed on the 15th (the day the students first occupied the campus in 1973). The commemoration day ends traditionally with a demonstration that begins from the campus of the Polytechnic and ends at the United States embassy.




My fellow TNH colleague Theodore Kalmoukos often uses the word “tragicomedy” to describe phenomena that are pitiful and laughable all at once.

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