Nikolaos Mantzaros

Nikolaos MantzarosNikolaos Halikiopoulos Mantzaros (26 October 1795 – 12 April 1872) was a Greek composer born in Corfu and the major representative of the so-called Ionian School of music. He was of mixed Greek and Italian noble descent, coming from one of the most important and wealthy families of the “Libro d’Oro” di Corfu and therefore he never considered himself a “professional composer”. Recent research and performances have led to a re-evaluation of Mantzaros as a significant composer and music theorist.
Mantzaros presented his first compositions (three concert or substitute arias and the one-act comic opera Don Crepuscolo) in 1815 in the theatre of San Giacomo of Corfu.

From 1819 onwards he visited Italy regularly (Venice, Bologna, Milan, Naples). His compositions include incidental music, vocal works in Italian and demotic Greek, sacred music for the Catholic rite including three masses, a Te Deum and for the Orthodox Church a complete mass based on the septinsular polyphonic traditional chanting, band music and 24 piano symphonies, some of them for orchestra. He also composed the music for the first concert aria in Greek in 1827, the Aria Greca.

Mantzaros was an important music theorist, contrapuntist and teacher and from 1841 until his death he was the Artistic Director of the Philharmonic Society of Corfu.

His most popular composition remains the musical setting for the poem ‘Hymn to Liberty’ of Dionysios Solomos, the first and second stanzas of which were adopted initially in 1864 as the Royal Anthem of Greece and on 28 June 1865 as the Greek national anthem.

Recent research and performances have proved that Mantzaros had broader activities as a significant composer and music theorist, which go beyond the established perception of him as the mere composer of the National Anthem.