Zakynthos Musical Tradition

The Musical Tradition of Zakynthos: The traditional music of Zakynthos has its roots to the Venetian period, so we can see the western musical influence of the island, especially the influence of the Italians. Opera and operetta were particularly popular on Zakynthos these times. These two kinds of music formed most of Zakynthos music.

The first school of music on Zakynthos was founded in 1815. Another significant attempt was made in 1860 by Marco Battagel, an Italian music professor, and 60 other musicians who established the first Music Association in Greece. A municipal orchestra was also set up. In 1896, the official Chorus of Zakynthos performed during the first Olympic Games held in Greece. Many local music bands and clubs have been set up since then. The Zakynthos Chorus exists till today and makes performances all over Greece and abroad.

The musical vibe of Zakynthos is mostly joyful and evokes emotions. The kantades were popular songs, usually with love themes. They were told by a man under the bedroom window of a girl to express his love for her.

Kantades were sung in a chorus and were accompanied by a mandolin or a guitar. Note that the word kantades derives from the Italian verb cantare, which means to sing and shows once more the influence of the Zakynthian music from the Italian culture. The composers of the kantades were local residents and the most famous composer was Georgios Kostis. To name a few others, we can refer to Panagiotis Gritzanis, Antonios Kapnisis, and Frangiscos Domeneginis.

As a mission to preserve the traditional Zakynthian music, the Philharmonic Societies on the island provide free music education to young learners. In spite of the invasion of modern music, kantades songs stay alive and traditional musical instruments are played till today on Zakynthos.