Who was George Molfetas?
The hotel is named in honour of Katerina's great uncle, George Molfetas (1871 - 1916), a gifted satirical poet, publisher, musician and composer.
Satirical poet and publisher
George Molfetas published his first satirical newspaper at the age of 19. Written entirely in poetic verse, he displayed a rare wit and a keen eye for the manners and customs of his fellow Kefalonians. However, pressed into following his father's footsteps, he was sent to Athens to a pursue a degree in law. He was soon drawn to the capital's literary circles and began publishing another satirical newspaper, which earned him critical acclaim from his literary peers but was a commercial failure. Nostalgic for his homeland, Molfetas eventually returned to Kefalonia where he promptly started his third and final satirical newspaper, Zizanion. Like the previous two, it was entirely written and published by Molfetas himself and almost wholly in poetic verse. The Zinanion ran for 25 years with great success until his untimely death of pneumonia in 1916. It proved to be almost as popular in Athens as it was in his native Kefalonia and Molfetas was often courted by aspiring and incumbent politicians anxious to avoid being the target of his unique form of satire. Indeed, one of his most ardent fans was no less a figure than Eleftherios Venizelos, the noted prime minster of Greece. However, George Molfetas was not a political satirist in the modern sense. He was first and foremost a poet, and though he often drew on the microcosm of Kefalonian society for his subjects, his satire had a universal appeal and, more importantly, a velvet touch. Mastering all forms of the Greek language including archaic, demotic, katharevousa and local dialect, Molfetas' satirical poetry is sadly no longer as widely accessible to contemporary readers as it was a century ago. What can easily be discerned from reading his work, however, is that his was one of the finer minds of an undoubtedly nobler period in Greek history.
Musician and composer
Molfetas' ear for the rhythmic forms of poetry was closely linked to his musical talent, in much the same way that poetry can be described as the music of the written word. A highly skilled and self-taught guitarist, Molfetas not only adapted the classical repetoire to his particular instrument but also composed many pieces of his own. At the request of ardent admirers in Athens, he held his first public performance in a prominent Athenian concert hall in 1895. The reviews were so effusive that he was soon receiving invitations to hold concerts in various Greek communities around the world. For over a year the publication of his satirical newspaper Zizanion was put on hold while Molfetas held concerts to great acclaim in Constantinople, Russia, Egypt and Wallachia (present day Romania). The reviews used words such as 'ethereal' and declared that in his hands the humble guitar sounded like more like an entire orchestra! Together with his considerable talent for rendering harmonies, he was also aided by his unique, custom-made guitar, which in many ways resembled an ancient Greek lyre. This extraordinary instrument was made by Dimitrios Mourtzinos, the greatest Greek musical instrument maker of his time, and is now kept at the Philharmonic School of Argostoli. A faithful copy was recently made by the Department of Sound Technology and Musical Instruments of the Technological & Educational Institute of Lixouri. It was presented on June 6th of 2015 in a moving event that included a fascinating lecture by Joseph Loukeris, entitled George Molfetas: the Musical Poet, as well as a musical recital by Dimitris Dimakopoulos using a copy of Molfetas' remarkable instrument.
Excerpt from the recital by Dimitris Dimakopoulos.
Following his year-long concert tour, George Molfetas ceased giving public performances, with one exception: a charity concert at the Kefalos Theatre in 1904. Received with rapturous applause, Molfetas returned to the stage for an encore and, imitating Nicolo Paganini, broke all but one of his instrument's chords before continuing to play!
1. A transcript of the lecture (in Greek) by Joseph Loukeris entitled G. Molfetas: Musical Poet can be viewed on his blog here.
2. Copies of the Zizanion can be viewed at the Corgialenios Library in Argostoli or downloaded from their website at www.corgialenios.gr
3. The short video excerpt of a recital by Dimitris Dimakopoulos was uploaded to youtube by the Kefalonian news website kefalonitikanea.gr
4. Background image by Joseph Cartwright (1789 - 1829) c.1820. View of Argostoli on the island of Cephalonia