The three Philharmonic societies of Corfu Town

By: | Post date: June 10, 2023 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Culture, Greece

Philharmonic societies are all over Greece, and they do lots of things with lots of instrument groupings. But they are most prominent for their marching bands (playing the same march every parade), and that’s what people on Greece think a philharmonic does by default.

This is the headquarters of the old Philharmonic society, founded 1840.
No photo description available.
(Another museum missed, between the Whitsun public holiday and the never-on-Tuesday hours of the office.)
The new Philharmonic was founded in 1890, and was a socialist undertaking. Though founded in opposition to the old band, with blue rather than red uniforms, they named themselves after the founder of the old band, Nicholas Mantzaros.
There’s a third Philharmonic in Corfu Town, founded in 1980; that one is named for John Capodistria.
Across the island, there are 20 philharmonic societies.
May be an image of monument
Statue of Nicholas Mantzaros, outside the municipal theater. Founder of the old Philharmonic society, namer of the new Philharmonic, and composer of the Greek national anthem.
Those not blinded by patriotic forever may have noticed that the Greek national anthem sounds a bit like it came out of a comic operetta. Italian musical culture has deep roots here.
Indeed, one of the first things Mantzaros did when he founded the Philharmonic in 1840 was to mandate the use of Greek. He was a nobleman from the Italian Manzaro family in the Libro d’Oro, who accordingly declined to charge lucre for teaching music; but in the new dispensation of things, he was also an advocate of Greek nationalism, and that included privileging the Greek language in a Greek island.
Which was a bigger deal than it sounds. To the burghers of Corfu in 1840, using Greek instead of Italian as a high language of intellect and governance was a revolutionary (if not outright silly) notion.

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