Corfu Island - Corfiot Culture
Information about the ancient civilisation of Corfu is given by Homer. He praises the naval force of Phaeacians and their performance in music and dance.
During the historical times the nautical and commercial position of Corfu contributes to each peak of prosperity. Written sources, monuments, archaeological findings and historical facts make sure that the island flourished as a notable civilisation. The Byzantine era did not leave any significant aspect of culture.
In the times of the Venetians although education and typography did not belong to the people many Corfiots self educated themselves and progressed with writing but without much of a broad appeal. On the contrary the Corfiots who were living abroad contributed to the intellectual progress of the nation. Noted as the first intellectual people of the nation are Nicholas Sofianos, Jacob Trivolis, Eugene Voulgaris and Nikiforos Theotokis. But the most creative and fertile period was the 19th century. The French Revolution contributed to the awakening of the intellectual and after the revolution the spread of education to the people widened, even though with typography they would have had the ability to spread ideas more rapidly.
In the first phase of the awakening the young Corfiots devoted themselves to historical research. After the arrival of Dionysios Solomos in Corfu in 1828 who influenced intense intellectual activity. At the heart with the poet of the National Anthem a circle of intellects begins to be created which was named as the Corfiot College, most noted are I. Polylas, G. Markoras, A. Manousos, G. Kalosgouros, Nick. Kogevinas, Stel. Chrysomallis, G. Martinellis, L. Mavilis, K. Theotokis, Irene Dendrinou and others.
In sculpture and painting are distinguished Paul. Prosalentis, who founded the School of Arts 1813-1838, I. Kalosgouros, Vokatsiabis, Angelos Giallinas, Markos Zavitzianos, and from the first of Greeks engravers Ch. Pahis and others.
More distinctive during the previous years was the musical life of Corfu, the first origins of it were appointed with the establishment of The Philharmonic Company of Corfu and on 12th September 1840 the presence of the composer Nick. Chaliciopoulos Mantzaros, who was the music instructor for two generations. Since then passionate musical accomplishment had been developed which thrived in the Old Theatre on San Giacomo and the Public Theatre which was opened in 1903 and was demolished in 1943. Corfu was one of the most important music centres of Europe during 1850-1914. In 1890 the second Philharmonic was formed with the name "The Mantzaros Philharmonic Company". In 1892 the Music School of Corfu was founded which helped particularly the development of choir music.
In the second half of the 19th century and the first years of the 20th century noted Corfiot composers are P. Rodotheatos, Spyr. Xyndas, Albanas, Alex Grec, Spyr. Samaras, Spyr. Kaisaris, Ger. Robotis and others.
The theatrical tradition of Corfu was created specifically by the Italian Theatre, entertaining the Corfiot public for almost two centuries. In reaction to this theatre which covered mostly the entertainment of the upper classes, the Dramatic Association of Corfu was founded in 1870 with its amateur company performing works only in the Greek language. The Dramatic Association hurtles through different phases, it built the theatrical group 'Phoenix' it used seasonal scenery and gave to the Greek Theatre two significant artists A. Chrysomallis and T.Lepeniotis. It closed down in 1940.
The music tradition of Corfu continues nowadays with the two Philharmonic Orchestras, the Music School, the Corfiot Cantada and the Artistic Group. Also in Corfu six other Philharmonics such as Gastouri, Skripero, Korakianas, Sinarades, Kinopiastes, Lefkimi, and all these represent cultural centres.
The intellectual field of The Company of Reading and the Company of Corfiot Studies develop prolific programmes the first one has a very rich Ionian library, the second one renovated the house in which the national poet Solomos lived for the last 20 years of his life and where he died and organised the Solomos Museum and The Centre of Solomos Studies.
The Archaeological Museums and the Public Library, the Historical archives, the archives of the Ionian Senate, the archives of Kapodistrias, the archives of Moustoxydis, the Public Gallery, the Museum of Christian Art and much more, outlines and conveys the rich culture of Corfu.