La Cronaca musicale

(Pesaro, 1896-1917)
Complete Introduction : Italian | English

Prepared by Laura Surian
2 volumes (2009)

La Cronaca musicale [CRM], which began publication on 18 February 1896 and appeared periodically until 1917, was printed in Pesaro by the Tipografia Annesio Nobili. The journal was issued in twelve monthly instalments from1897 to1900, and from 1908 to 1910, 1912-1913, and 1915-1917. Single issues range from sixteen to fifty-eight pages; each issue is paginated independently. Advertisements appear irregularly. The issues of CRM are organized into several sections, each headed by a rubric. “Corrispondenze” features reports on current music events in the principal Italian cities: Florence, Genoa, Milan, Naples, Palermo, Rome, Turin and Venice. With the exception of the Roman collaborator Alberto Cametti and the Viennese correspondent Hugo Robert Fleischmann most of the correspondents are unidentified music critics, who sign with only initials or with pseudonyms. The rubrics “Nel mondo dell’arte” [In the world of art] and “Teatri e concerti” comprise short notices on various musical events. Many notices are copied from the Gazzetta musicale di Milano and other contemporary music journals. “Recensioni” [Book reviews] deals with recently published books.

The publication of a specialized journal in the late nineteenth century in a small city such as Pesaro is related to the promotion of cultural activities undertaken by Pietro Mascagni (1863-1945) during his directorship (1895-1902) of the Liceo Musicale Rossini. This period coincides with the city’s wide interest in music and a well-planned cultural policy aimed at enhancing the national prestige of the Liceo. CRM is the only Italian periodical originating from and edited at a musical institute, and is therefore a valuable source of information about contemporary educational activities. Among the primary aims of the periodical are the perpetuation of the teachings of Rossini, the support of the didactic activities of the Liceo, and the raising of the critical level of published essays. The editors of the periodical─Tancredi Mantovani (1896 to 1904), Luigi AlbertoVillanis (1905 to 1906), and Andrea D’Angeli (1907 to 1917)─ were also the directors of the Liceo’s library and professors teaching the school’s music history courses.

Under Mantovani’s direction CRM maintains a clear-cut stand in favor of “Italian” music, the tradition of Italian opera, emphasis on the Italian musical traditions and the predilection for “la melodia semplice e la varietà del ritmo.” Villanis adopts a more balanced policy concerning the distribution of particular topics under various rubrics. D’Angeli also upholds the tradition originally established by Mantovani by publishing the music of Italian composers of the past. A main policy is the offering of critical judgments and analyses of current events. In the first years, the editors publish essays dealing with the operatic repertory, while devoting scant attention to symphonic and chamber music in compliance with the bequests of Rossini’s will for the training of singers.

Under Mantovani’s direction a general aim of the periodical places emphasis, on historical articles and essays about current issues related to musical life in Italy and abroad, including discussion of music instruction in conservatories, music competitions, analyses of the librettos and the scores of newly composed operas. CRM’s editors assume a “traditionalist” position with regard to the diffusion of Wagner’s music dramas in Italy. His works are appreciated for their compositional novelties, but his theories on opera are considered unacceptable in Italy.

The CRM gives lists of the Liceo’s alumni; programs of public concerts of the school’s orchestra; and accounts of the professional successes of its directors, beginning with Mascagni. Following are notices of their tournées, participation in congresses and committees, and preparation of new compositions. Also featured in CRM are notices concerning the artistic activities, in Italy and abroad, of alumni and of faculty members. There are also appeals to professional musicians to broaden their studies of the history of music. The inclusion of musicology courses in the Liceo’s curriculum is strongly advocated, following the example of foreign music schools and journals. In the years 1896-1899, some attention is given to topics dealing with sacred music, with contributions by Antonio Cicognani, featuring his extensive analyses and comments on performances of Lorenzo Perosi’s oratorio La Resurrezione di Lazzaro.

CRM dedicates considerable space to historical essays that emphasize the musical features thought to be typical of national music, which reflects the ever-growing interest in Italy for pre-nineteenth-century music. D’Angeli aims to upgrade the artistic level of CRM engaging the collaboration of distinguished critics of the time: Arnaldo Bonaventura, Giulio Fara, Giovanni Spezzaferri and Francesco Vatielli. Attention is given to the rediscovery of ancient music in reports of performances and of the papers read at musicological congresses, including on the activities of the Associazione dei Musicologi Italiani and publication of modern transcriptions (with piano accompaniment) of hitherto unpublished pieces of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Emphasis is placed on the life and works of Rossini─ unpublished letters, inventories of Rossini’s autographs deposited in the Liceo’s Tempietto, anecdotes on his life and on his family, and his relationships with personalities of the time─due to the collaboration of the musicologist Giuseppe Radiciotti (1858-1931), the principal biographer of the composer.