The Ionian islands, west of the Peloponnese, were an important musical centre during much of the 19th century. In the 18th they had been under Venetian rule, then from 1797 under the French. From 1814 they were ruled by the British until their reunion with Greece in 1864. Italian traditions died hard, and it is chiefly as a centre of Italian opera and vocal music that the islands were musically significant during most of the century. The leading native composer was Pavlos Carrer (1829-96), born on Zakynthos island, who was trained locally and in Milan and wrote a dozen operas (of which four had their premieres in Zakynthos) as well as many songs and much piano music. The Museum to Solomos and Eminent Zakynthians, originally opened in 1966, then substantially rebuilt in the 1990s and reopened in 1999, partly serves as a memorial to the civilization of the Ionian islands after the damage wrought by the 1953 earthquake. It is chiefly devoted to the poet Dionysios Solomos but prominent among the others commemorated there are Carrer, to whom a room is dedicated. In that room are Carrer’s own piano, a bronze bust and a portrait of the composer, a showcase with several of his personal objects, manuscripts and printed librettos, a silver wreath and other awards.


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