Classical music in Bologna

A brief summary

The first evidence of a written musical tradition in Bologna dates back to the 13th century, but it was from the15th century that regular activity was reported particularly thanks to the creation of the Musical Chapels, organized union of musicians led by a Chapel Master. Usually in charge for liturgical services, they also act as real music Schools. At the same time, new places for public entertainment arise: the Teatro Pubblico (Public Theater) of the Palazzo del Podestà, the Formagliari Theater and the Malvezzi Theater opened actually in the 16th century.

During the 17th century various Academies were established with the aim of promoting and increasing the activity and education of music. In 1666 the still operating Accademia Filarmonica was born, a real gathering place for great personalities of the musical scene from all over Europe: among others Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, André Grétry, Arcangelo Corelli, and Carlo Broschi known as "Farinelli", the most celebrated Italian castrato Opera singer in history; to be rememberd also the composers Giuseppe Torelli, Giacomo Antonio Perti, Antonio Vandini. A special mention goes to Father Giovanni Battista Martini, composer, theorist and excellent music teacher, one of the most significant personalities of music of the 18th century, reckoned as one of Mozart masters.

At the end of the 18th century, after the suppression of religious orders caused by Napoleonic invasion, musical education was entirely entrusted to the Liceo Filarmonico later renamed as the Conservatorio G.B. Martini, active still nowadays.

In 1763 the most relevant city theater opened: the splendid Teatro Comunale which, during the 19th century, would be linked to the figure of Richard Wagner, awarded honorary Bolognese citizen: in fact, the Comunale would be hosting almost all of his Italian "premieres". Among its glorious Masters, Bologna also welcomed Gioachino Rossini, Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini. Starting from the 19th century, the art of violin making characterised the city, developing a school still considered one of the the best in Italy. 
Ottorino Respighi, born in Bologna, was one of the greatest Italian masters and composers.

During the 20th century, Bologna confirmed its vocation for theoretical reflection, didactic and historiographical activity and innovation: since 1933 Musicology was taught in its University;  in 1971 the University  figured the degree course in Disciplines of the Arts, Music and Drama (DAMS) whereas the Electronic Music course started at the Conservatory . The Teatro Comunale (the Municipal Opera House) hosted the conductors Arturo Toscanini and the Bolognese Francesco Molinari Pradelli. Alongside its traditional programming, the Teatro has always been open to contemporary and extra-cultured music. The tenor Gianni Raimondi, the baritone Ruggero Raimondi and  the flautist Giorgio Zagnoni were born in Bologna. Since 1995 the city promoted the Concorso internazionale di composizione 2 Agosto (the 2nd August International Composition Competition) in memory of the victims of the 1980 massacre; in 2004 the Museo internazionale e biblioteca della musica (International Museum and Library of Music) opened to the public as a a new prestigious institution devoted to the history of the music of the City.

In the last decades, as proof of the intense musical activity of the city, varoius  associations began to organize notable events and festivals such as Bologna Festival and Musica Insieme and new venues dedicated to music opened: for i.g. the Auditorium Manzoni, Angelica - Centro di Ricerca Musicale - San Leonardo Theater; particularly interest had the Orchestra Mozart founded in 2004 and conducted by Claudio Abbado until his death;  the Orchestra Senzaspine gathering under 35 musicians, the FontanaMix Ensemble and artists of international importance such as the Bolognese Cristina Zavalloni and beloved late lamented Ezio Bosso.