Andreas Makris (7 March 1930, Salonika, Greece - 3 February 2005, Silver Spring, Md.) obtained his first violin “by accident” when one day, during World War II, his father traded the family’s ration of salt and olive oil to a man who begged him for the items, offering his violin. “So, for a month we had our bean soup without olive oil, and I began to play the violin,” Makris would later explain.
Makris continued his music studies at the National Conservatory in Greece and, beginning in 1950, in the U.S. on a Rockefeller Grant at the Phillips University in Enid, Oklahoma. He attended the Kansas City Conservatory in Missouri from 1951 to 1953 and graduated from the Mannes College of Music in New York in 1956 with Artist honors. Additional musical training followed at the Aspen Music Festival in 1956 and 1957 and at the Fountainbleau School in France where in 1958 Makris studied composition with Nadia Boulanger.
In 1958 Makris won a position with the Dallas Symphony and in 1959 moved to the St. Louis Symphony after a successful audition. In 1961, at the invitation of conductor Howard Mitchell, Makris joined the first violin section of the National Symphony Orchestra, where he would remain for 28 years. Over the years, the NSO would go on to perform many of his works, under Mitchell, Antal Dorati, Mstislav Rostropovich and Leonard Slatkin. In 1970 Makris became the first composer to have his work premiered at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall and later would compose a work honoring the 25th anniversary of the Kennedy Center.
Rostropovich commissioned more works from Makris than from any other composer. “In my opinion, Makris is a great composer” Rostropovich remarked in 1978. From 1979 to 1989 Makris also served as NSO’s composer in residence where his job was to help Rostropovich sort through unsolicited scores that arrived in the mail from unknown but hopeful composers. Makris also composed and arranged numerous incidental pieces for the NSO including a piece for Leonard Bernstein’s birthday concert and an arrangement of Paganini’s Motto Perpetuo, which became a standard encore for the NSO’s many tours. He received numerous grants and awards for his compositions including a National Endowment for the Arts grant the ASCAP award.
Upon his retirement from the NSO, Makris rededicated himself to composing with renewed vigor. His favorite performers became young musicians for whom he composed numerous solo, chamber and orchestral works. He also cultivated his friendship with National Philharmonic conductor Piotr Gajewski, at whose request he composed several works including the Symphony for Soprano and Strings, the Violin Concerto and one of his final works, Strathmore Overture, composed for National Philharmonic’s gala concert, inaugurating its residency at the Music Center at Strathmore.
Works for Winds
- 4th of July March
- Aegean Festival Overture (1967/1970)
- Fanfare (Makris)
- Fanfare Alexander
- Fantasy and Dance
- Grecian Sketches (from Efthymia)
- Improvisations - Rhythms (1975)
- Intrigues (2001)
- Mediterranean Holiday
- Moto Perpetuo (Paganini)