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music

Music

Like literature, theatre and painting, Zakynthos has a long musical tradition. For example, in 1815 it saw the establishment of the first Music School in Greece. And during the first Olympic Games (Athens 1896), the Music Band of Zakynthos took part in the event. There are two musical traditions in Zakynthos which sometimes interact and overlap.

The first is the Heptanese School of Music (also known Ionian Island School) which denotes the musical production of a group of composers from the early 19th century until the mid-20th century. Initially, the major inspiration for the Heptanese School was the Italian musical tradition. However, as early as the 1820s composers began forging a path towards a 'national music' initially using the Greek vernacular language, and later by incorporating folkore elements using melodies, modes and metres from local tradition and mainland Greece. Although the Heptanese School of Music was centred in Kerkyra (Corfu), Zakynthian composers and musicians made significant contributions to the movement.

Possibly a student of Kerkyrian composer, Nikolaos Mantzaros (also composer of the Greek national athem), Pavlos Karrer (or Karreris in Greek) (1829 – 1896) was one of the most representative figures of the Heptanese School of Music and he was also one of the most popular and widely performed composers in 19th-century Greece. He also achieved success in Italy where his first operas and ballets were performed on the stages of the Teatro Carcano and the Teatro alla Canobbiana in Milan. He was first Greek music composer to put forward a collection of vocal works on national subjects, Greek-language libretti and melodies inspired by the folk and urban popular tradition of Greece. More than anyone, Karrer is believed to have attempted the creation of Greek national opera. He was especially influenced by Verdi and the Belcanto. However, over time and like the rest of the Heptanese School of Music, Karrer’s compositional signature became more personal.

Zakynthian composer Pavlos Karrer

Despite success in Milan and Athens, Karrer was unable to secure the performance of his opera, Markos Botsaris in his native Zakynthos because the British occupiers feared the subject of the opera (the Greek War of Independence) would inflame pro-independence sentiments among Zakynthians. In mainland Greece, Markos Botsaris was first performed in Patra in 1861. The opera includes the well known demotic song, The Old Man Demos. The opera Markos Botsaris was the most popular Greek opera of the 19th and early 20th century with more than 45 stagings. Other notable operatic works include Despo (1875) and I Kyra Frossyni (1868). The last of his operas, the neoclassical Marathon-Salamis (1888) had its world-premiere in 2003. Karrer also composed secular and vocal music and instrumental pieces. Apart from composition, Karrer was also a teacher and conductor.

Another student of Mantzaros was Zakynthian, Frangiskos Domeniginis (1809-1874). He composed several patriotic works as well as the Royal Hymn for the visit of King George I in Zakynthos after the unification of the Ionian Islands with Greece. Domenginis was not only a well-known composer but also a key member of the Party of the Radicals.

Suzanna Nerantzi (c. 19th century) was another Zakynthian student of Mantzaros. Nerantzi is the earliest known female Greek composer (in which her works were published) and an accomplished pianist. Several piano compositions were published in 1839 by Francesco Lucca in Milan.

The other urban musical tradition of Zakynthos is Kantades and Arekia. In contrast to the more formal music of Pavlos Karrer and the like, Kantades and Arekia are considered popular forms of music.

Kantades are also an important musical tradition in Cephalonia; and to a lesser extent, Leukada and Kerkyra. Given that the Ionian Islands were under Venetian occupation for a considerable period the Italian influence on the music of the Ionian Islands is evident in the use of western harmony compared to many other parts of the Greek world. In addition, the influx of Cretan refugees after the fall of the island to the Ottomans in 1669 also influenced the music of the Ionian Islands.

Arekia is a folk song native to Zakynthos but it is also encountered on other Ionian Islands under different names and slightly different forms. Its name comes from the Italian phrase 'a orecchio' (by ear) suggesting a song sung 'by ear' i.e. without reading a musical score. Arekia usually begins as a solo and then more singers join. Musical instruments rarely accompany the performers. The lyrics of Arekia are often love songs but they also describe scenes of everyday toil, immigration, and social struggle in a satirical way. Some songs even reference bitterness about the British occupation. As for the Arekia share many common elements with the traditional Cretan songs known as Mantinades.

Carnival in Kerkyra (similar to Zakynthian kantada players) by Chalarambos Pachis

Kantades are a related but different musical form to Arekia. The name originates from the Latin cantare meaning “to sing”. Kantades is characterized by western type polyphony, consisting of two or more independent melodic voices. In Zakynthos, the Kantada is a four-voice song (canto, seconde, tertsa, bass) accompanied by guitars and mandolins similar to Kerkyra and Cephalonia. Like Arekia, the lyrics of Kantades are often love songs but they also describe toil, immigration, social struggle and the British occupation. However, Kantades in Zakynthos are also sometimes even sadder and pessimistic resembling Italian melodrama. Several songs of this type were created by composers of the Ionian Conservatory and the Greek National Conservatory like Dionysios Lavragas while the poems of prominent poets like Dionysios Solomos have sometimes been adapted. Some of the most important composers of Kantades include Zakynythians Georgios Kostis and Panayiotis Gritzanis. However, there are many songs by artists unknown to us.

Today, Kantades and to a lesser extent, Arekia are still performed throughout the taverns of Zakynthos. Also, the local group Tragoudistes Tsh Zakynthos (Singers of Zakynthos) have toured many parts of the world as far away as the United States, Canada and Australia.

Inaugurated in 2009, Zakynthos has also its own Zante Jazz Festival.

The novel Among the Olive Groves by Chrissie Parker is primarily set on the island of Zakynthos.

source wikipedia the free encyclopedia