Merkurios (Merkos) Psipsicas | Major donor of vinyl records to the Public Library of Veria

Mercos Psipsicas was born in Veria, in the 12th  April, 1925.His parents were Georgios Psipsicas and Ekaterini Psipsica, the Skoufia family. He also had two sisters Anastasia (Koula) and Athanasios.

From an early age he showed great aptitude for the Arts and Letters and the foreign languages. He graduated from the 6th classes High school of Veria in 1943 with honours and after sitting an exam, he entered in a very good rank the School of  Medicine in Thessaloniki. He continued with his studies for about 2 years, being a diligent student, however amid difficult times of hardship, civil war and poverty. Thus, when exams for hiring employees in the Agricultural Bank of Greece took place, Mercos participated in the exams and was among the first to pass. As a result, he gave up his studies in the School of Medicine and worked as an employee for 35 years in the Agricultural Bank of Greece in the local bank branch of Veria. Despite being an excellent employee in Veria, with excellent career prospects, he did not accept proposals of promotion by the Central Agricultural Bank Bureau to other larger branches as he never wished to leave Veria.

One of his interests was to keep records ranging from his career in the Bank (documents), up to photographs from excursions and events especially in the city of Veria. He also took shots with a camera of the time (decades of 60’s and 70’s) and was a fan of the cinema especially of classical films.

Additionally, he was a subscriber to foreign music magazines and magazines of general interest such as ΕPIKAIRA, TACHIDROMOS, XRONIKA. He kept up to date with all the political and social developments, primarily through magazines and he was an avid reader of biographies of influential personalities.

Above all, he was very sociable, surrounded by friends, relatives and colleagues. He participated in many artistic events and was not merely hospitable but an excellent host as he invited and welcomed people at home with the purpose of listening to music. He did not marry or had a family of his own and throughout the years, he lived with his sister, in the same block of flats with his brother.

He had two great hobbies travelling and music, or to put it rightly travelling was the mean to fuel his passion for music and in particular the collection of vinyl records.Ηe travelled all over Europe and in the United States, acquainting himself with other cultures, practising the foreign languages he learned (he was a self- taught learner of Italian, English and German) and of course obtaining vinyl records of foreign repertoire from foreign disc shops such as Bleecker Bob’s but also  junk shops in New York, as well as in Milan. He also kept up with foreign discography through the music magazines BILLBOARD (U.S.A) and MUSICA (Italy) in which he was a subscriber for decades.

From the foreign discography richer is his collection in Italian songs of the Mid War and also of the subsequent decades. Following in variety in his collection are Spanish, English, American, Russian, Gypsy, Argentinian, French, German, Balkan songs etc. His collection is also extensive in tango, jazz, blues, orchestic music, film music, classical music, ballads etc.

A prominent position in his collection, having their complete work, are artists whose fame has surpassed the borders of their country and had an international career such as: Milva, Imperio Argentina,Claudio Villa, Caterina Valente, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong,Mahalia Jackson, Sarl Aznavour, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Edith Piaf, Νάνα Μούσχουρη, Luciano Pavarotti, Ennio Morricone and many more.

Together with the foreign records which were increasing from Greek and foreign record shops, the same or even greater passion showed for Greek discography. The most invaluable part of the collection was the Greek music of the Mid war and the Post war. Also, Greek songs of the following decades are included.

From the Greek discography, a distinct place in his collection, including this complete work, have old artists such as  Sofia Vembo, Nicos Gounaris, Tonis Maroudas, Fotis Polimeris,Danai, Mairi Lo, Xaris Alexiou, George Dalaras, and other younger. He highly valued Manos Chatzidakis’ composings.

Apart from being an ardent fan of particular artists, he pursued personal contact with some of  them like  Milva, Claudio Villa, Imperio Argentina. In particular, with Greek artists such as Danai and Mary Lo (characterized by a poet of the ‘50s the voice of modern passion) there was constant contact (by phone and by correspondence) until the end of his life.

Βesides the artists, Mercos Psipsikas in his attempt to obtain records and knowledge on discography had established contact with other collectors, with whom they exchanged songs as well as with music producers such as Giorgos Papastefanou, Giorgos Katsaros, Giannis Petridis, Lefteris Kogalidis.

To be able to listen to high quality sound and to initially reproduce the records into cassettes and later into CDs, he used Thorens pick up players and Nakamichi cassette recorder as well as loudspeakers and amplifiers, general audio systems of high standards. He was quite sad with the explosion of the CDs, for as he said ‘gave a stroke to us, lovers of vinyl records’’, as it was no longer so easy to buy spindles or even the cartridge for his pickup player to listen to his favourite songs. He characterized the sound of the CDs ‘harsher’ than that of the vinyl records. He used to listen to music quite loud, especially his favourite songs, in the companion of his whole neighborhood!

Thus, after many decades he succeeded in satisfying to a great extent his passion for music, obtaining an exquisite collection comprising 10.000 vinyl records 78, 45 & 33 rounds per minute with some of them being extremely rare.

When being asked at a time by a person of his close family, why he didn’t have a radio show to a radio station in Veria to share his record collections with other people he answered: ‘I would do it if I were younger’.

 In 2008, he decided to donate his collection so as not to be private any longer. Being acquainted with the work of the Public Central Library of Veria he chose the Library to be the recipient of the donation, hoping that it would make the best use of the record collection for the city of  Veria and its citizens.

He died on the 18th June of 2009 at the age of 84 and only 2 months after the death of his sister.

Text: Katerina Psipsica

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