This article explores the music education of the Greek people in the nineteenth century, as revealed through the description of music education in Constantinople, Corfu and Athens.
Before the establishment of the new state of Greece early in the nineteenth century, both Greeks and Europeans speak of ‘Greece’, referring to Greek communities beyond its borders. Music education in those communities consisted mainly of the music of the Greek Orthodox Church – applying a special notation, appropriate to its monophonic, unaccompanied chant – and Western music, and was characterized by the degree to which either culture prevailed. The antithesis of those music cultures was best represented, at least up to the 1850s, among the Greeks living in Constantinople – the seat of the Greek Orthodox Church – and Corfu of the Ionian Islands – where Italian music was assimilated. Athens was elected in 1834 as the capital of the Greek state because of its ancient monuments and did not attain the significance of a contemporary cultural centre before the 1870s. In Athens, these two musical cultures were absorbed and transformed through their confrontation and interaction. However, the new state's political orientation determined the predominance of Western music in music education in the capital.