Abstracts of issue 12-13 (2000)

Katy Romanou

An Archive of Cretan Music in the Philharmonic Society of Corfu

During a research in the Music Library of the Philharmonic Society of Corfu (established in 1840), the writer investigated an archive of music manuscripts, containing chants of the Greek Orthodox Church. The music, written in staff notation, is polyphonic, with keyboard accompaniment. Most manuscripts bear the names of either Ioannis Aristeides or Eleutherios Palatianos (Aristeides pupil), or, jointly, of Eleutherios Palatianos and Nikolaos Manzaros, a distinguished composer of music in Western forms, teacher and president of the Philharmonic Society.
Ioannis Aristeides (1786-1828) was the first professor of music in the Ionian Academy, a university created by Frederic Earl of Guilford, who, aiming at an all Greek high quality staff, sent usually, at his expenses Greek youngsters to the West to complete their studies. Aristeides was sent to Naples.
The question raised by the manuscripts investigated is whether or not they are related to the popular tradition of the so called Cretan music, a tradition of improvised polyphony in church music, practiced in those Greek areas that were not under the Ottoman rule. The writer shows that the manuscripts of this important archive represent successive stages of a complete notation of this popular polyphony, which, though differently called, is common with the popular tradition of Southern Italy, the Italian islands, and areas of the eastern Adriatic coast.