Cultural soirées of the 19th century Athenian elite

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


In 1830, with the foundation of the Modern Greek state which was the first state in Europe to gain its independence from the Ottoman Empire, the country saw the opening of new cultural markets, led by the capital city of Athens. In this framework, a rapid progress in the spread of Western European music is observed, always as part of a conscious and hurried process of westernization. Italian, and then Ionian music teachers settled in Athens, Italian opera companies, and later French operetta troupes performed on Athenian stages, and the first military bands played European music in public spaces. Musical literacy and the ability to play a musical instrument became a high social privilege with the very possession of a piano functioning as a mark of wealth and prestige. In this paper we will discuss the custom of cultural evening entertainment in nineteenth-century Athenian salons of a private or semi-public character. This includes private music lessons but mostly artistic events in clubs, embassies, upper-class mansions and royal palaces. These events initially involved amateur performers, but soon one began to invite professional European artists to Athenian royal courts and wealthy salons. In these occasions, one could meet, apart from the members of the Bavarian court and the administrative hierarchy, also the members of the higher social echelons of Athens, who formed a new cosmopolitan elite with an upper bourgeois identity.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jul 2022
EventInternational symposium: Music-Cultural Exchange and the Nineteenth-Century Salon - Institute of Art History, Prague, Czech Republic
Duration: 18 Jul 202219 Jul 2022


ConferenceInternational symposium: Music-Cultural Exchange and the Nineteenth-Century Salon
Country/TerritoryCzech Republic
Internet address


  • Music
  • musicology
  • performing arts
  • Creative industries
  • performance
  • Modern Greece
  • Modern Greek Culture
  • Modern Greek Studies
  • Nineteenth century literature and culture
  • Nineteenth century music
  • Nineteenth century studies


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