Zakynthos Musical Tradition

The Musical Tradition of Zakynthos: The traditional music of Zakynthos has its roots in the Venetian period, so the Western musical influence is clear, especially that of the Italians. Opera and operetta were particularly popular on Zakynthos during these times.

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 to this day 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 derives from the Italian verb cantare, which means to sing and shows once more the influence of the Zakynthian music from the Italian culture. Their composers were locals 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 until today on Zakynthos.