From the Homeric dancers Dimodokos and Laodamas to our days, for over 5000 years we have been cultivating here art and culture .
Here you can encounter music, painting, poetry, prose, dance and theater in every possible aspect . You can witness the ingenuous creation of the folk artists as well as the artistic work of the important expert artists .
In 1811 was founded in Corfu the first university faculty of Fine Art in Greece, by the important Corfiot painter Pavlow Prosalendis. Part of the Fine Art School was the Faculty of Civil Architecture with top professor Gerasimos Pitsamanos (1782- 1825). This was the school where the first Greek certified architects studied , who later worked in the Ionian islands and in other parts of Greece, too.
Samples of their work can be found scatterred in Corfu town, Gaios of Paxos and in some villages.
From ancient times Corfu is connected to music and it maintains a rich and everlasting musical tradition . From minstrel Dimodokos , who sang in honor of Ulysses , as is mentioned by Homer in Odyssey( 3000 BC) to the San Giacomo theater, which housed opera performances for the very first time in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean and to the creation of the first music band "Philharmonic Society of Corfu" ( 1840 ) to this day, music is a predominant form of art, closely connected to the soul and the history of the people of Corfu and Paxos . Music is everywhere. At the festivals , the cobbled streets , the fields and the olive groves , the houses , as well as in the accent of the Corfiot people. Joy, sorrow and everyday speech abound with rhythm .
The Philharmonic bands.
The Philharmonic Bands of Corfu are a unique world phenomenon as regards the ratio of number bands to population ’ . The founding of the philharmonic bands took place following the trend of the creation of popular clubs and societies which took place in Europe after the Industrial revolution, especially in the 19th century and was introduced in cosmopolitan Corfu through the local youth who studied in universities in Europe, as well as by merchants . This phenomenon was intensified in the 20th century, based on economic development, a trend to imitate and a kind of localisms, deriving from the idiosyncratic composition of the population of Corfu of groups of economic and politican immigrants. Nowadays, a population of 110.000 people all over Corfu are educated by 19 philharmonic bands , who support musical education through their schools , as well as through their presence at celebrations and festivals, both in Corfu and in other places.
Throughout the summer, Corfu enjoys really interesting musical events . The International Festival of Corfu“ Ionian Concerts ” co-organized by the Musical Department of the Ionian University , the Prefecture of Corfu and the Municipality of Corfu is the most important cultural event . This big celebration is the peak of an international musical meeting called " Summer Academy ", in which famous musicians coexist with students from America , Europe , Far East and Greece . It is a festival of high quality .
Every summer at Paxos take place severak important musical events, the most important of which being the Spring Music Festival and Paxos Festival
Corfu, as a crossroad of peoples and cultures played an important part, keeping the balances between the development of art in the East and the West. Painting is the only field where this assimilation of the two worlds is so evident .
We need to take into account that painting from the 15th to the 18th centuries is mainly , if not exclusively, religious and it therefore bears the ifluence of the conflict between the two creeds , as it has got features of the religious iconography of both churches .
Through paintings of a high artistic and esthetic value we can today trace the evolution of painting and the generation of currents, like the Ionian School .
The Public Library of Corfu was founded in the 18th century and is the most ancient Public Library in Greece. Unfortunately , it was devastated by the Nazi bombardments in 1943 . Today it is housed in the southern part of the British Barracks building in the Old Fortress and it includes rich collections, mainly donated by Corfiots.
Reading Society of Corfu
The Reading Society of Corfu was founded in 1836 and its first President was Petros Vrailas-Armenis , a professor of the Ionian Academy and later on a philosopher , a politician and a diplomat .
It has got a historic library (7.000 volumes) with rare manuscripts, engravings, photographs, old documents, old maps and paintings, as well as a general library (50.000 volumes), which also serves as a reading room.
Corfu and its nearby islands (Corfu, Paxos, Othoni, Erikousa , Mathraki) was at the centre of history for millennia . Due to its position on sea routes which connect Central Europe to Africa and the East to the West, it was a significant point of reference from the Stone age till the beginning of the 20th century.
How old the love of Corfiot people for theatre is, we cannot easily prove . If you go to villages in the countryside, like Kato Garounas, and you happen to watch popular theater, performed not by actors, but by everyday villagers, you will no doubt wonder if this is due to the effect of the Venetian rule only, or if it portrays memories of older periods in the history of the island.