Prepared by Marco Capra
Boccherini’s 297 numbers and ten supplements were published in Florence from 31 March 1862 until 30 November 1880. The periodical’s guiding spirit and editor was Giovan Gualberto Guidi, an important figure in contemporary Florentine musical life. A double-bass player, editor and bookseller, he was born in Florence in 1817 and died there in 1882. In 1856, he became a full-time publisher of music periodicals and other publications, and played a fundamental role in the diffusion of musical culture, and in particular instrumental music, in Italy. Guidi published the Gazzetta musicale di Firenze, L’Armonia and Boccherini, all of which demonstrate his progressive and innovative character.
Boccherini’s structure is typical of Italian journals from the mid-1830s to the 1880s. Each number is four pages long, extended to eight pages in double issues. The first page is generally reserved for major articles: extensive music analyses; articles on music history, aesthetics, theory; anecdotes, memoirs, modern editions of writings of the past, and articles on current events. Concert reports generally appear on inside pages, as do book reviews and short articles on a variety of subjects. Brief Reports, the section dedicated to correspondence, short publisher-related commercial letters and advertisements are generally printed on pages three and four. Boccherini’s content anticipates that of musicological journals published in Italy in the last years of the century. For, in addition to reports on current musical events in Italy and abroad, the journal devotes increasing attention to topics that previous Italian musical journals had only rarely or, at the most, only occasionally touched upon. And, quite novel, even revolutionary if thought in terms of the Italian historical context of the time, is the almost total lack of interest expressed in opera, except for essays on Meyerbeer or on authors not connected to the Italian operatic scene, and the Wagnerian novit. In keeping with the activities and aims of the Societï del Quartetto, which is directly linked to the periodical, the journal’s central topic is instrumental music, and particularly chamber music.
Boccherini was launched with contributions by the critic and musicologist, Abramo Basevi, with his Studi sopra Beethoven [Studies on Beethoven] dedicated to the Opus 18 Quartets, the Studi sull armonia [Study of harmony], and the Brevi notizie intorno alla storia della musica [Short notices about the history of music]. While Basevi’s contributions ended in 1866, the cultural trend he helped establish was to be followed by others who developed and further explored specific arguments in ample articles that were published in series.
Among the most significant articles are those on aesthetics: Sunto di un corso di estetica musicale [Sketch of a course on musical aesthetics] by Alberto Mazzucato; and Considerazioni sul bello musicale [Considerations on the beautiful in music] by Baldassarre Gamucci. Critical writings include La melodia antica e moderna in Italia [Ancient and modern melody in Italy] by an anonymous author; La Critica e il Canto moderno in Italia [The critic and modern song in Italy] by Domenico Bertini; Considerazioni sulla musica religiosa [Considerations on religious music] by Girolamo Alessandro Biaggi; Riflessioni sulla musica di Meyerbeer ed in particolare su quella del "Roberto il diavolo" [Reflections on the music of Meyerbeer and in particular on that of Robert le Diable], Monografia intorno alle opere di Saverio Mercadante [Monograph on the operas of Saverio Mercadante] and "Amleto" di Ambrogio Thomas [Hamlet by Ambroise Thomas] by Baldasare Gamucci; Della Scuola musicale Italiana e della Tedescaï [On the Italian and German schools of music] and Studi su Meyerbeer [Studies on Meyerbeer] by Biaggi, and, "La Vestale" di Gaspare Spontini by R. Gandolfi. Important also are articles on theory and acoustics: Legge morale da cui dipende la formazione della scala [Moral laws on which the formation of the scale depend] and I terzi suoni di Tartini e i suoni detti risultanti differenziali, del Signor Helmholz [The third sounds of Tartini and the sounds called resultant differentials of Mr. Helmholtz] by Primo Crotti. Other principal collaborators, most of them active in Florence, were Luigi Ferdinando Casamorata, Vincenzo Meini, Giovanni Pacini, and Cesare Ponsicchi.