In more recent years, Bologna has never denied its vocation for theoretical reflection, teaching activity and musical historiography, which in the past had made the city a centre of excellence.
Owing to the rich musical heritage of the city and especially to the spiritual and material heritage left by Father Martini, the city is one of the first in Italy to start a tradition of document studies, already from the half of the 19th Century, thanks to Gaetano Gaspari, Luigi Torchi and Francesco Vatielli, teachers at the Liceo and members of the Accademia Filarmonica.
In 1933 Musicology appears again as a university course and in 1971 it finds an organic academic collocation with the creation of the degree course in Art, Music and Show Disciplines (DAMS) within the Faculty of Literature and Philosophy.
The music course in Musicology is the second to be established in an Italian university, but the first to offer a multitude of competences in the sectors of historic Musicology, systematic Musicology, music Theory and Pedagogy, Ethnomusicology, and of the connected disciplines of Theatre, Dancing and Cinema.
Today musicology research in Bologna has its centre in the Department of Music and Performing Arts, established in 1983, where the DAMS courses take place; the Department has various reviews connected to it: “Il Saggiatore musicale” (The musical essayist) and the “Bollettino di Analisi e Teoria musicale” (Journal of musical analysis and theory), and also the on-line reviews “Music & Anthropology” and “Analitica”.
The Teatro Comunale in the 20th Century
The Teatro Comunale welcomed the world-famous Enrico Caruso (1873 – 1921) and Arturo Toscanini. The first performed in 1900 in Tosca by Puccini and, the following year, in the role of the Duke of Mantova in Rigoletto by Verdi; Toscanini, on the other hand, performed various times as conductor, starting from the nine Wagnerian representations of Siegfried in the season of 1905.
In recent years, next to the traditional programming, the Comunale has confirmed its vocation for novelties, staging for the first time ever the operas of Giacomo Manzoni (Per Massimiliano Robespierre, 1975 – For Maximilian Robespierre) and Adriano Guarnieri (Trionfo della notte, 1987 – Triumph of the night), and the Italian “first performances” of György Ligeti (Le grand macabre, 1979), Hans Werner Henze (The English cat, 1986), Fabio Vacchi (Il viaggio, 1990 – The journey) and Flavio Testi (La brocca rotta, 1997 – The broken jug).
As far as theatre events are concerned, the Teatro Comunale of Bologna still maintains its first place position on the music scene of Bologna, and it is still the centre of the cultural life of the city, not only for its productive role, but also for its “strategic” collocation in the heart of Bologna, near the main offices of the University, the Picture Gallery and the Accademia di Belle Arti (Academy of Fine Arts).
The musical activities of the Cappella Musicale Arcivescovile dell’Ordine dei Servi di Maria ant the Cappella di San Petronio
In 1933 the Cappella Musicale Arcivescovile dell’Ordine dei Servi di Maria (Archbishop’s Chapel Choir of the Mary’s Servants Order) was founded: it is still active with non-profit performances and is made up of eighty choir singers divided into four different tone colours: sopranos, contraltos, tenors and bassos.
Moreover, in 1984 the musical activity of the Cappella di San Petronio (Saint Petronius’ Chapel Choir) started again and is dedicated to an intense liturgical, concert and recording activity, that favours the performance of music preserved in the extremely rich musical Archives annexed to the basilica of Bologna. Every year around the liturgy of Saint Petronius (4th of October) the Chapel Choir performs in one or more concerts with the participation of internationally renowned musicians.
During the year 2000, the Chapel Choir took part in many events for “Bologna European City of Culture”. The musicians of the Chapel Choir performed also in tours in Austria, Czechoslovakia, France, Malta and Portugal, achieving the unanimous approval of the public and of the specialised press.
In the post-war period, Bologna became also a much sought-after aim of lovers of jazz music: between the end of the Fifties and the beginning of the Seventies, the city welcomed more than a dozen editions of one of the first and maybe most important Festivals dedicated to this genre, the European Jazz Festival.
The greatest names of the whole history of jazz performed on the stages of the city theatres and also in the Palazzo dello sport (Sports hall): Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Earl Hines, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Chet Baker and John Coltrane. Mythical figures of Afro-American music such as Woody Herman, Ella Fitzgerald, Stan Getz, Art Farmer and B.B. King played in Bologna.
Why did jazz prove so popular in Bologna, agreeing with the city and its inhabitants? To be able to answer this question, it is necessary to remember, on the one hand, what jazz is and, on the other hand, the geographical, human and social context of Bologna.
Nardo Giardina, founder in 1952 of the Doctor Dixie Jazz Band, writes that jazz “is a breath-taking and innovative music, which fascinates younger and older people in every country, becoming, generation after generation, more and more well-known and attracting an increasing number of lovers of this new language that, overturning and inverting the scale of values codified and accepted in learned European music, set rhythm as its most important value (…), followed by harmony and lastly by melody. Such an approach, which is clearly antithetical to our Latin and Mediterranean spirit, together with the other element of freedom represented by the possibility of the soloists of improvising as they please, gave jazz a fascinating and involving character, not only because of the novelty of its sounds and rhythms, but also because it is a concrete symbol of opposition and rebellion against patterns that had become too rigid and restricting. This attitude has often been interpreted (…) not only from a strictly musical point of view, but also with wider social and political meanings. (…)
Bologna has always been a cosmopolite and provincial city, that considers learned and country traditions on the same level. Although a city of tradition, it has always been ready to welcome and tolerate everything that has a flavour of innovation. It is a university city which has always been used to internationalism and to the presence of foreigners; a city that for a long time lived under the papal govern and this, during the course of the centuries, moulded the fiery temper of the inhabitants of Bologna, leading them to their known “affability”, that doesn’t though extinguish the instinctive inclination towards fiery passions and lively imagination of these concrete and at the same time refined people (…). All this in the name and as a result of a compromise between the established power and the tendency towards rebellion, between conformism and absolute freedom of invention, with a forever-present passionate love for urban spaces, arcades, squares, churches (…).
Perhaps it is this strange and a bit weird characteristic of hedonism and absolute freedom of imagination that has given jazz a long-lasting fortune in Bologna.” (Nardo Giardina, “Bologna, la Città del jazz” (Bologna, the City of jazz), ed. CLUEB, 2002, pp. 9-12).
Jazz in Bologna has therefore far away origins: the city began to develop a deep passion for this music genre towards the end of the Thirties and, straight after the second world war, jazz developed in an absolutely original way, thanks to the efforts and the passion of some university students, they themselves amateur jazz players, and to the foundation of many clubs and associations (“Hot Club Bologna”, Circolo del Jazz, Circolo Goliardico del Jazz).
Dr. Dixie Jazz Band
The “Superior Magistratus Ragtime Band” was founded in Bologna in 1952 as a University “band” and in 1972 it changed name into the present Dr. Dixie Jazz Band. From the foundation to today the Doctor Dixie has performed in more than 700 concerts in Italy and Europe, playing in many Festivals. Moreover it took part in many radio and television programmes and in three films of the film director Pupi Avati: “Jazz Band”, based on the story of the band, of which the same Avati was a member together with Lucio Dalla, “Dancing Paradise” and “Accadde a Bologna” (It happened in Bologna).
Besides many awards, the Dr. Dixie Jazz Band has made many recordings, which saw at times the participation of famous artists of the jazz scene and not only: Renzo Arbore, Paolo Conte, Johnny Dorelli, Ruggero Raimondi, Pupi Avati, Lucio Dalla, Giorgio Zagnoni, Gerry Mulligan, just to mention some of them.
Doctor Dixie is surely the most long-living amateur Band of the world: in 2002, in fact, it celebrated its 50th birthday with a concert at the Medica Theatre where, besides all its historical members, world-famous jazz players played. The club where the band has been playing since 1972, has become the legendary temple of jazz music in Bologna, where today the Dr. Dixie Jazz Band still welcomes young people and jazz lovers.
A historical figure of the Bologna of this period is Giorgio Zagnoni, internationally renowned flautist who won, when he was only eighteen years old, a national contest for the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano (Milan Symphony Orchestra) of the RAI (National Italian Radio and Television Broadcasting Company) and, at twenty, became a teacher of the Conservatory of Bologna.
After ten years passed in the orchestra, he dedicated himself exclusively to solo performances, reaching the Carnegie Hall in New York, the Herkulessaal in Munich, the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, the Coliseum in Buenos Aires; and he deserved titles such as “the magic flute of Bologna” and “the King Midas of the flute” from the press.
He received many awards of great prestige and, on the occasion of the bicentenary of the foundation of the United States, he held a concert at the White House. He made recordings for various record companies, founded the Bologna Festival and became artistic director of “Musicalmente Bologna” (Musically Bologna) and responsible of the advanced training course for orchestra musicians “Mythos” organised by the “A. Toscanini” foundation in Parma. In 2003 he received from Italian President Carlo Ciampi the title of Great Officer, Merit Order of the Italian Republic.
Jazz events in Bologna
The Conservatory of Bologna has established a course in “Musica d’uso” (Utility Music) and the Degree course in Art, Music and Show of the University has also a jazz class.
Today the city is still very active in the field of jazz and welcomes important festivals, among which the “Journey inside memory”, a cinema festival organised by the International Museum of Music of Bologna, connected to the most important jazz composers of the 20th Century, besides seasons in the historical clubs of the city centre, the Cantina Bentivoglio and the Chet Baker. Bologna is also the city where Steve Grossman, one of the greatest living saxophonists, lives.
The musical atmosphere and the new trends of the city of Bologna continued to attract, during the years, musicians and composers of every genre.
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