Born in Smyrna, he attended school in Constantinople and studied piano and composition in Vienna. After working for a few years as a piano teacher in Kharkov (then Russia and now Ukraine) he settled in Athens. An admirer of Richard Wagner, Rimsky-Korsakoff, Kostis Palamas, and Nikos Kazantzakis, he set himself the life goal of establishing a Greek "national school" of music, based on the ideas of the Russian national composers, on western musical achievements and on modern Greek folk music, poetry and myth. He thus founded in 1919 the Hellenic Conservatory and in 1926 the National Conservatoire. He wrote three symphonies and five operas, one piano concerto and one violin concertino, other symphonic works, chamber music and numerous songs and piano works. He held various public posts and was elected member of the Academy of Athens. A passionate composer, he has a personal post romantic idiom characterised by his rich harmonies and orchestrations, complex counterpoint, his long eastern melodies and the frequent use of Greek folk rhythms. A preoccupation with love and death transcends all five of his music dramas.