After the dissolution of the religious orders in 1796, music teaching was no more a prerogative of convents, churches and academies and it passed to the Liceo Filarmonico. The project of the municipality of Bologna for an institute that should take care of the “free teaching of pupils who have to be trained in the art of music” is dated 1802; the location chosen was the former convent of Saint James, next to the church in the square nowadays called Piazza Rossini.
The “Liceo Filarmonico”
In the 19th century, with the dissolution of religious orders in 1796, the musical instruction is committed to Liceo Filarmonico.
The didactic activities started in the autumn of 1804. There were six classes and the teachers were appointed among the pupils of Father Martini: Lorenzo Gibelli for the Singing, Giovanni Callisto Zanotti for the Piano and Stanislao Mattei for the Counterpoint. Since 1827, after Mattei, who was the confessor and spiritual and material heir of the Franciscan theoretician, had died, the Liceo incorporated also Martini’s rich library.
Among the famous musicians, who in the 19th century followed one another at the head of the Liceo, there was in particular Gioacchino Rossini, who directed the Liceo from 1839 to 1848; the best period, though, took place between the end of the century and the first decade of the following one, when the position was occupied by Luigi Mancinelli, Giuseppe Martucci and Marco Enrico Bossi.
In 1925 the Liceo was named after Martini and in 1942 it became the state Conservatory (but the library, with the annexed picture gallery, remained property of the city council).
Società del Quartetto
Besides the didactic activity carried out by the Liceo, it is necessary to remember also the initiatives promoted by the Società dal Quartetto (Quartet Society), founded in 1879 by Federico Sarti, Adolfo Massarenti, Angelo Consolini and Francesco Serato, teachers of the music institute of the city and renowned concert players; this institution was directed by Luigi Mancinelli first and then by Giuseppe Martucci.
Together with the Teatro Comunale, the Società gives life to the musical activity in Bologna at the end of the 19th century and promotes the performance of symphonic and chamber masterpieces of German Romanticism (above all, the ouvertures and the symphonies by Ludwig van Beethoven, Carl Maria von Weber, Felix Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann, which were sometimes real novelties for the local public).
With the creation of the Liceo Musicale of the city, the Accademia became a sort of honorary association that aggregated by acclamation famous musicians of the European scene: above all Gioacchino Rossini (already “approved” among the singers in 1806, when he was only fourteen), Niccolò Paganini, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Franz Liszt, Giuseppe Verdi, Richard Wagner, Johannes Brahms, Camille Saint-Saëns, Giacomo Puccini, Pietro Mascagni and Maurice Ravel, and among the singing virtuosi Isabella Colbran, Giuditta Pasta and Maria Malibran.
The activity of the academies, whose members were noblemen of Bologna or very famous musicians, consisted mainly in the organisation of musical operas, tragedies, comedies, oratorios and amateur instrumental performances. And thanks to the academies, the private theatres located in the houses of the aristocrats, next to the major theatres open to the public, experienced a very lively opera activity.
Verdi, Wagner, Rossini e Puccini
In her Honorary Maestros list, Bologna also hosts two of the greatest musicians of the 19th century: Giuseppe Verdi, the most important Italian opera composer, the most popular one, the artist symbol of great melodies and of dramatic force, and Richard Wagner, the German musician-poet who more than anybody else represented the romantic attitude brought to its extreme consequences, creator of difficult operas where words, music and stage representation are merged together.
Gioacchino Rossini had a prolific and long lasting relation with Bologna. The young musician had begun studying composition and was admitted to the Accademia when he was only fifteen. In 1814 the composer made his debut at the Comunale with Tancredi, and in 1821 Bologna staged The Barber of Seville. Moreover, in Bologna Rossini wrote the Stabat Mater, performed for the first time in 1843 under the conduction of Gaetano Donizetti. The Accademia, of which Rossini became president in 1852, still preserves many memorabilia, among which the largely autograph manuscript of the Cinderella and a pencil drawing by G. Doré, portraying the composer on his deathbed.
At the same time, thanks to the efforts of some members, first of all of the abbey Masseangelo Masseangeli, the bibliographic heritage of Father Martini and of the Liceo Filarmonico was enriched by important bequests, donations and music funds, that nowadays still build, together with other scores and older documents, a precious heritage of documents. The institution welcomed also the most famous musicologists of the 19th century, such as Luigi Torchi, Gaetano Gaspari and Federico Parisini, who took care of the heritage and studied it with expertise.
Towards the end of the century (1899), Bologna welcomed as member of the Liceo also Giacomo Puccini, creator of many other opera pages that were able to renew the Italian melodrama, without betraying its spirit.
In the archives of the institute there is a file of autograph minutes of the Madame Butterfly, which was discovered in the spring of 1945.
The luthier’s art
During the 19th century, Bologna witnessed also the re-flourishing of the luthier’s art, thanks to the work of Raffaele Fiorini and Otello Bignami, masters who resumed and develop the handcraft tradition of medieval origin in the capital of Emilia.
Luca Maler (1485 – 1552) and Hans Frei (1505 – 1565), two craftsmen of German origin, who established their workshop in Bologna, were known with the name of “magistri leutarum” and were considered the best lute makers in Europe for the very high quality of their instruments and for the fundamental innovations they introduced in this art.
Recovering tradition, the masters of Bologna managed to create a school of luthiers that were considered, together with the masters of Cremona, among the best makers of string instruments of the Italian 20th century. The most famous pupil of Fiorini’s luthier school is Augusto Pollastri, whose total production of instruments, although not very large, is considered exceptional, and as a matter of fact, the number of imitations and of fakes present on the market is much higher than that of the original instruments.
Bologna was also the place of birth of Ottorino Respighi (1879 – 1936), one of the greatest Italian musicians and composers of symphonic music, who opened the Italian music tradition and melodrama to the Austrian and German instrumental music. When he was very young, Respighi began to practice the violin and the counterpoint at the Music Liceo of his city, and then got his diploma in Composition. His first big success was the opera Semirâma, represented for the first time ever at the Teatro Comunale of Bologna in 1910; in the same year he was appointed member of the Accademia Filarmonica of Bologna. Respighi added to innovation the recovery of the most ancient musical traditions, the Gregorian chant and the old music of the Renaissance. The Civico Museo Bibliografico Musicale (Musical Bibliographical City Museum) of Bologna preserves a great number of manuscripts of the works of the young Respighi; and the Accademia preserves the piano on which Respighi composed The Fountains and The Pine-trees of Rome, donated in 1956.
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