The name of Peter the Peloponnesian, Lambadarios of the Great Church, constitutes a period on its own of our music. He was the great musician of the XVIIIth century, the fourth fount of music, the only rightly marvelled as an excellent music teacher and a classic writer, whose works and the simple, unpretentious, ecclesiastical music melody and tone always remain as a guide to our cantors and as a classical monument of our sacred music. He greatly beneficed the sacred art by using, instead of the old complicated musical characters, a new notation system to write down the melodies. Through this work, he simplified the notations of St John Koukkouzeles and of his teacher John of Trapezon, and explained the positions of the more ancient melodies. Peter was marvelled by his contemporaries for his excellent music understanding and immitation, as he could faithfully keep with his notation any melody even if chanted only once by somebody else. Hence, the Ottomans called him Hirsiz Peter (thief) and Hotza (teacher), because whatever they composed with great labour, by hearing it only once, he could steal it by writing it down, and after beautifying it a bit, he could give it back as a supposedly new work of his. As the connaisseurs of arab-persian music describe, by agreement they would not compose any new work without the prior permission of Peter. He is also considered a benefactor of Armenian music, as he taught the Archcantor of the Armenian Patriarchate's church at Kontoskalion, Teretzoun Hambarzoun the method of writing down melodies.
Peter was born around 1730 in the Peloponnese, and studied from his childhood by some musician hieromonk in Smyrna, and later by John of Trapezon, the Archcantor of the Great Church, in Constantinople. With him, he chanted as a second Domestikos. After the death of John of Trapezon, Peter was made Lambadarios of the Great Church, when Daniel was Protopsaltes. He retained this position until 1777, when he died from the plague that took place in the Queen of cities. He had many students (Greeks, Ottomans, and Europeans) to whom he taught our and/or the arab-persian music He also taught music together with Daniel Protopsaltes and the then Domestikos Iakovos the Peloponnesian in the patriarchal Music School, the second music school after the Fall, which was founded in 17776 when the Patriarch was Sophronios from Jerusalem.
Peter, as Lambadarios, explained in his method many lessons by ancient melodists, as for instance the great kekragaria of John Damascene, the great Eothina of John the Sweet, the great Anaxandaria of various poets, some slow Pasapnoaria of Matins, the «Ἄνωθεν οἱ Προφῆται» and other lessons of the Oikematarion and the Mathetarion. He also composed the whole series of the prescribed music lessons, namely the Short and Long Sticherarion, the Heirmologion, the Kratematarion, the Oikematarion, the Papadike, the Mathematarion and various others. He also composed two Anastasimataria (slow and fast), Heirmologion of the Katavasias, and the Doxastarion, ie the new or short Sticherarion. He wrote three series of slow Cherubic hymns, one series of shorter ones, three series of Commnion hymns for Sundays, and other Chrerubic and Communion hymns for the feasts of the Lord and of the Mother of God in the eight modes; slow, short, and shorter Eulogitaria; Polyelei, short and medium Doxologies in various modes; slow pasapnoaria of Matins, of whom three in mode pl. II; Kalophonic Heirmoi, kratemata, and various compositions sung at small and great Vespers, Vigils, Matings, at Divine Liturgies, funerals, ordinations, baptisms, weddings, the anointing service, etc. He also composed verses in the spirit and style of the Ottoman makamia.
Peter had a good reputation and enjoyed great respect by his contemporary musician, both Christians and Ottomans, due to his excellent music ability and his cleverness. This is evident by the following two historic anecdotes:
One day the Sultan leaving from the Palace of Byzantium, went to the Yeni Tzami by the Palouk bazaar. After dinner, he stayed overnight in the kiosk of the mosque. Accidentally, on the same evening Peter visited the muezzin (cantor) of that mosque, and dined with him. During the dinner, Peter sung the morning prayer «selak» in a different mode than the two which were used at the time. And the muezzin, in order to take advantage of the art of Peter, setting aside every religious reason, forced the teacher to sing the «selak» from the minaret at dawn, which happened. But the Sultan heard the chanted song, and in the morning wanted to find out who made this new melody of the «selak». Being informed about the truth, he became tremendously mad and ordered two prosecutors to go to the Patriarch and inform him about the conduct of Peter the Lambadarios of the Great Church. In addition, Peter was arrested and brought in front to a religious court, where he acted as if he was insane. The judges, believing that our music teacher had got insane, ordered that he be closed in the national clinic at Egrikapi. By Sultan's order, everything was provided to him except from ink and paper. But the clever Peter found a way to heal this lack of resources, because he received paper by his visiting students from the neighbouring Egrikapi school, and from the given to him berries, he formed ink. Using these he wrote the slow pasapnoarion of Matins in mode pl. II, which is known as berry-written. On exiting the clinic as supposedly cured after 40 days, he continued his duties in the Great Church and the Palace.
At the funeral of Peter, which took place in the patriarchal church, the following incident occurred: The Dervisai from all the Tekkedes of the queen city came and asked for the permission of Patriarch Sophronios II that they might also sing their own funeral songs to the dead, as a sign of respect to the teacher. The Patriarch answered: «I also feel your great sadness, which was caused to all of us by the death of the blessed teacher. I do not say you no; but so that the Government does not get embittered, please could all of you follow us to the grave and there perform your duty towards him». The Dervisai obeyed to these words of the Patriarch, and followed in tears the dead and until the chanted trisagion and the deposition of the dead in the grave, they chanted passionately. One of them descended into to grave bringing in his hands his flute and said in Turkish: «O blessed teacher, receive this from us, your orphan students, this last gift, so that with it you might sing in the Paradise with the Angels». And deposing the flute in the hands of the dead, he came out with tears. Then the Christians, buried Peter as prescribed.
This eminent music teacher enjoyed the respect of the patriarchs Samuel (1763-1768 and 1773-1774) and Sophronios II (1774-1780), and of the Sultans Hamit I and Selim III; and was worshipped by his innumerable students.