Samuel Matsas, the son of Minos and Margarita (née Sarfati), saw the light of day in 1937 in Athens. His earliest childhood memories were bound to have a strong musical colour, given the Hoffman piano in the house and the songs his parents sang in the evenings to the family, shaping his childhood dreams. One day, however, the music stopped and what should have been a happy childhood was disrupted by air strikes in Piraeus and strict voices on the radio announcing the beginning of the Nazi occupation. Unaware of what was happening, little Samuel lived through a dream-like adventure that started one night in 1943, when the family left its home at 225 Michail Voda St and sought refuge in the house of Pipitsa Ikonomou, a close friend and partner of his father’s, at 10 Chios St. Again, thanks to Pipitsa, they soon escaped from Athens and settled in the mountain village of Dikastro, in Fthiotida prefecture, along with his grandfather Azaria Sarfati. There, thanks to the hospitality of the family of Yiorgos and Athina Vlachos and the support of the entire village, life went back to normal. Minos participated in the people’s court due to his legal knowledge, barter secured the necessary food while little Samuel – now called Makis by everyone – rediscovered the joys of carefree play thanks to the young daughter of the Vlachos family, Rinio. Indeed, the guerrillas of the Greek People’s Liberation Army (ELAS), who passed through Dikastro frequently, made him their “mascot”. During wide-scale sweep operations conducted by the Germans in summer 1944, the village was evacuated, which was the beginning of a period of anxious wandering that lasted several weeks. But the Matsas family managed to avoid the trap of Nazi persecution. The Liberation found them in Lamia and, with a British military truck, they made their way back to Athens. Returning to normal life was as strewn with difficulties and deprivations. But most importantly for the seven-year Makis, the music resumed. And it has never stopped since.
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