[To agioklima/ Honeysuckle] , Lavragas, Dionysios, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC

After the establishment of an independent Greek country in 1827, these companies initiated their sets of tours around mainland Greece and mainly in cities that had a strong bourgeois community. These were cities like Patras and Syros. Athens, on the other hand, was small and poor, with limited artistic life. However, with the enthronement of King Otto and the establishment of various cultural societies something seemed to be changing. He proclaimed Athens as the capital of Greece and established a university, a bank and a military band. The new capital was struggling to transform from being a small town into a metropolis according to  Western Europe standards.

Venditore di Uccelli [The bird seller], Zeller, Carl, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC
Venditore di Uccelli [The bird seller], Zeller, Carl, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC

The Italian melodrama began to invade and slowly monopolize public interest. Fancy costumes, combined with beautiful theatre settings and new venues,  which were built to host such performances, fascinated the  Athenians. The only disadvantage was the language that did not allow the Greek public to fully identify with the sound. The adaptation of Greek verses to well-known arias by important poets of the time came as a rescue to fill the gap.

[Pes mou /Tell me], Carrer, Paolo, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, Public Domain Mark
[Pes mou /Tell me], Carrer, Paolo, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, Public Domain Mark

The union of the Ionian Islands with Greece in 1864 was the occasion for the beginning of a new era for the music of the country. The communication channel opened between Athens and the embedded islands brought the Greeks of the capital in contact with a different culture..

[Ston kampo/At the meadow] , Lambelet, Georges, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC
[Ston kampo/At the meadow] , Lambelet, Georges, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC

The musical cultivation of the Heptanese composers combined with the creation of the Athens Conservatory, which first laid the foundations for the domestic production of professional musicians, formed the backbone on which the Athenian song was later based.

[To agioklima/ Honeysuckle], Lavragas, Dionysios, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC
[To agioklima/ Honeysuckle], Lavragas, Dionysios, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC

During the final decade of the 19th century, one can observe the influence that the Italian Bel Canto had on Greek songs that were composed at the time. Composers, of Ionian descent mainly, such as Napoleon Lambelet, Georges Lambelet, Dionysios Lavragas, and Paolo Carrer, wrote songs that were meant to become popular.

[Remvasmos/ Reverie], Lavragas, Dionysios, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC
[Remvasmos/ Reverie], Lavragas, Dionysios, Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri” – Friends of Music Society, CC BY-NC