Prepared by Marcello Conati
A weekly published by Francesco Lucca’s Stabilmento Musicale in Milan, L’Italia musicale was modelled on a rival publication, Ricordi’s Gazzetta musicale di Milano. After the latter journal, L’Italia musicale can be considered the second most important Italian music journal of the nineteenth century. Its first number appeared on 7 July 1847 and publication continued without interruption until the Milanese insurrection against Austria in mid March of 1848. From 15 March 1848 until mid June the journal was entitled L’Italia libera reflecting the new Italian independence. On 21 June 1848 L’Italia libera was suspended by the return of the Austrians to Milan. Publication of L’Italia musicale resumed as a bi-weekly on 30 January 1850 and continued until 23 April 1859 at the outbreak of the second Italian war of independence. Although other journals resumed their publication, L’Italia musicale was suspended permanently.
The journal—attempting to mirror faithfully and objectively this dense period of events and developments in European musical society—devoted particular attention to the talent of young composers, the reforms of musical dramaturgy, didactic structures, technical advances and organizational initiatives. More specifically, these topics included the new themes of spoken drama and Italian literature, the renewal of the libretto, the function of music criticism, the developments of international conventions protecting authors’ rights, the problem of a uniform diapason, the relationship of public and private enterprise, as well as other subjects with an artistic, cultural and social character. Francesco Lucca, the journal’s owner and publisher, promoted the dissemination of works in Italy by foreign composers such as Auber, Halévy, Flotow, Gounod, and especially Meyerbeer. At the same time the journal offered a new stimulus to revitalize the national musical culture advanced by a younger generation of Italian composers.
Following a break between Lucca and Verdi in 1848, and at the resumption of publication in 1850, the journal very quickly assumed a posture against the composer’s new style beginning with Luisa Miller. A lively debate exploded in the autumn of 1850 following some rancorous anti-Verdi articles by Fétis which L’Italia musicale hastened to reproduce from the Revue et Gazette musicale de Paris. Together with contradictory assessments of many revivals of Rigoletto and La Traviata from 1851 to 1854, expressed in open polemics with other journals, and numerous articles published in support of the works of Meyerbeer and of Petrella, this debate and its reverberations represent one of the fundamental phases of the life of L’Italia musicale.