While Corfu was under the British Rule, the musical tradition was perpetuated by Nikolaos Chalikiopoulos Mantzaros, an Italian – Greek composer born in Corfu Island. He is famous for creating many musical compositions and establishing the first modern school of music in Greece.
Most importantly, he created the composition for Dionisios Solomos’ poem “Υμνος εις την Ελευθερίαν” (Hymn to Liberty), which ultimately became the National Anthem of Greece.
Another famous Corfiot composer is Spyros Samaras. He composed the Olympic Hymn, which was written the poet Kostis Palamas. The Olympic Hymn was performed in 1896, at the modern Olympic Games of Athens, after so many centuries of absence of the ancient Olympia stadium games.
Other memorable Corfiot composers worth mentioning are Spyridon Xyndas, who was a student of Nikolaos Mantzaros Chalikiopoulos, Napoleon and George Lambelet, Leonidas Albanas and Spyridon Kaisaris.
Corfu is particularly famous for its Philharmonic Orchestras that accompany parades and processions during the festivities of the island. Today, there are 18 philharmonic orchestras located in Corfu island. Some of them are located in Corfu Town and others in many villages. The most popular are the town’s Philharmonic Society of Corfu (palaia), the Philarmonic Society “Mantzaros” and the Philharmonic Union of Corfu “Kapodistrias”.
The Philharmonic Society of Corfu was established in 1840 and the band’s artistic director was Nikolaos Mantzaros Chalikiopoulos, who held this position until his death in 1872. Corfiots also call the Philharmonic Society of Corfu “Palaia”, which means old in Greek, since it is the oldest band in Corfu.
At the beginning the band was housed in Pinia (in the town) but in 1900 it moved to a new typical Corfiot “palazzo” also in Corfu town. The house belonged to the Theotokis family and this is where the Prime Minister of Greece, Georgios Theotokis, was born.
The Philharmonic Society “Mantzaros” was established in 1890 by a group of socialists and has contributed a lot in the cultivation and preservation of the musical tradition in Corfu. It is located in 23 Filarmonikis street, in the heart of Corfu town.
The Philharmonic Union of Corfu “Kapodistrias” was established in 1980 by a group of people who were previously members of the Philharmonic Society of Corfu.
Today, the band is cooperating with the department of Musical Studies of the Ionian University and it is located in 13 Agion Pateron Street in Corfu Town.