An exceptional man who enchants all around him with the simplicity of his personality and his love for traditional Cretan instrument manufacturing.

Antonis Stefanakis was born in the village Kardamiana Gergeris of the municipality of Rouva in 1938. He showed his inclination towards the art of instrument manufacturing and traditional Cretan dancing at an early age.

Restless as a child, he began making and playing traditional musical instruments (‘thambiolia’ and ‘askomantoures’).

After leaving his village in 1960, he met Giorgo Pagomeno, an exceptional dancer. They met at a tavern (‘Harilao’s Tavern’) where they first danced together. That moment marked the beginning of Antoni Stefanakis’ career as a dancer, including collaborations with well-known names such as Gianni Kokolaki, Niko Ksilouri and Antoni Peristeri.

With the latter they travelled to many countries as well as all over Greece, making Cretan dancing well-known.

They took part in the Panhellenic Festival in Pasa Limani and won a medal. Their success was immense.

At this specific festival they met many members of Cretan Associations, who later invited them to various events that were held in the whole of the Attica area.

The experiences they gained from taking part in large theatrical productions (with Mano Katraki, Dora Stratou and more) were priceless. Unfortunately, however, the dictatorship put a stop to their journey and so Antonis Stefanakis left abroad. More specifically, he went to Germany.

In Germany, after a period of hard working, he started making Cretan lyres while at the same time taught instrument manufacturing with the limited knowledge he had on the subject. He was also, at that time, president of the Munich Cretan Association and, as such, would put together Cretan events with various artists (Manoli Karpouzaki, Thanassi Skordalo, Gianni Markogiannaki, Spiro Sifogiorgaki, Mihali Fraggiadaki, Vaggeli Tsafantaki, Manoli Katsama, Nenedaki Marko and more). At one of these Cretan events he met SIGFRID SCHWAB, a resident of Munich who was an exceptional man and a great musician, as Mr. Stefanakis specifically states. In addition, along with the lyre player Daskalaki Kosta, Kampouraki Kosta and his own son Dimitri Stefanaki he made many appearances in various cities in Switzerland, Belgium and Holland. It is worth mentioning that there were live connections from the state radio in Paris “Radio France”.

After seeing Mr. Stefanakis’ work with the traditional Cretan instruments, Mr. Schwab offered him the opportunity to study under Mr. Helmut Buchsteiner at the school of instrument manufacturing, located 100 kilometres from Munich.

And so, after four months of classes and practice, the results were clear to see.

He left Germany and immediately found a job in Athens in 1979 and in 1983 began working in Zaros, Crete. His name and reputation were becoming legendary. Due to the tourist nature of the area, his fame spread to other countries through magazines and articles.

Soon the media from Canada, Australia, the United States and even Japan were showing an interest in his work.

His work and contribution to Cretan instrument manufacturing and music is outstanding. He created many instruments with the peak of his creations being the lute made from fish bones. He modified a number of traditional instruments with great success and even taught at universities and schools about the maintanence of Cretan instruments.

Even now, at the age of 70, his love for instrument manufacturing remains undaunted.