Aspects of female pianism in the 19th-century Ionian Islands
Based on archival material, such as dowry contracts, laws, accounts from travelers, polemic articles in newspapers and scores, the essay attempts to shed some light into the importance of the piano in the everyday life of the Ionian “daughters, mothers and wives”. The paper discusses especially the place of the pianoforte in the bourgeois and noble houses of the Ionian Islands, its repertory, its instruction in the girl boarding schools of Corfu, Zante and Cefalonia, as well as the almost exclusive attribution of its playing to the female members of the family. Particular reference is made to the musical archives of Amalia Braila and the Boulgari family, as well as to some Ionian women composers, such as Francesca Coraggio, Susanna Naranzi, Anna and Maria Gironci-Dixon and Parthenope Barker. All these “Victorian maids” constitute examples of some exceptional talent that could not resist the pressure of the era’s social prerequisites.