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La Rassegna musicale

(Turin, Rome, 1928-1943, 1947-1962)

Prepared by Nicoletta Betta
Online only (2022)

Publication in the RIPM Index forthcoming in July 2022.

Note: This introduction discusses the first series only. A forthcoming RIPM index and introductory text will treat the second series (1947-1962).

La Rassegna musicale [RIPM code RAM] is one of the two most important Italian music journals of the first half of the twentieth century, alongside the Rivista musicale italiana (Turin, Milan, 1894-1955). La Rassegna musicale deals mainly with the newest musical tendencies and styles of its time, promotes the study of the relationships between music and other disciplines, and follows the development of musical life in Italy and abroad.

The first issue of La Rassegna musicale was published in Turin on January 1928 as a direct continuation of Il Pianoforte[1]. Like its predecessor, the Rassegna was founded and edited by the musicologist Guido Maggiorino Gatti, who remained at the head of the journal for all its editorial life. For the first two years (1928-1929) the journal is published on a monthly basis, with each issue consisting of sixty to seventy pages, with occasional double issues. On the colophon at the end of each issue, Luigi Ronga is indicated as editor-in-chief. From 1930 onwards the journal changes its periodicity to bimonthly and the number of pages increases to approximately eighty. From this year until the suspension of publication in 1943, no other name is indicated as editor-in-chief. From 1936 the journal resumes its monthly periodicity, but the number of pages is reduced to forty per issue in reason of paper shortages, a consequence of the economic depression. In 1941 the editorial office moved to Rome, following Gatti’s work commitment to the movie company Lux Film.

The journal’s publishing house is not indicated until the last issue of year 1933, when the name of “Giulio Einaudi editore, Torino” appears for the first time. From the first issue of 1936 to the publication suspension of 1943, the publisher changes to “Editore Le Monnier, Firenze”. After the quadruple issue no. 8-12 of August-December 1943, the publication of RAM is suspended, owing to the Second World War. A second series is published from 1947 to 1962, on a trimonthly basis, without substantial changes in the journal’s structure. After a second suspension, Gatti’s periodical resumes publication in 1964 with a radical change: the new Quaderni della Rassegna musicale are five monographical volumes published irregularly until 1972.

Structure

The layout of the Rassegna is broadly unchanged throughout the years: first a section of essays, whose main themes are the aesthetics of new music, analysis of major new musical compositions, and comparative studies between music and literature, philosophy, and the arts. This section is followed generally by the column “Commentari” (Commentaries), retitled as “Note e commenti” (Notes and comments) from 1930 and “Note di passaggio” (Passing notes) from 1938, dedicated to debates and comments on current musical facts. The third section, “Vita musicale” (Musical life), is a wide and detailed collection of correspondence from Italian and foreign cities. The list of collaborators to this section is exceptionally rich: Mario Pilati and Gianandrea Gavazzeni from Milan, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Alberto Mantelli from Florence, Gastone Rossi-Doria and Luigi Colacicchi from Rome, Franco Michele Napolitano from Naples, André Schaeffner from Paris, Karl Geiringer from Vienna, Georges Systermans and Jan Weterings from Brussels, Hugo Leichtentritt and Hans Heinz Stuckenschmidt from Berlin, L. Dunton Green from London, Otto Gombosi from Budapest, Cesare M. Arconada from Madrid, Mateus Glinski from Warsaw, Alfred Alessandrescu from Bucharest, R. Aloys Mooser and Albert Müry from Switzerland. The fourth section of the journal is a miscellanea of short news, “Notizie e informazioni” (News and information). Then follows the review section (“Recensioni”), long and accurate, that includes books, printed music, and occasionally sound recordings. The main collaborators to this section are Luigi Ronga, Guido Pannain, Luigi Perrachio, Adelmo Damerini, Attilio Cimbro, Mario Pilati, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Ettore Desderi, Mario Pilati, Massimo Mila, Fedele d’Amico, Giorgio Graziosi. Each issue ends with the column “Tra le riviste” (Among the journals), a survey of national and international music press.

Themes and Subjects

In the untitled foreword to the first issue of La Rassegna musicale, as well as in a second prospectus published in the first issue of 1930, the journal’s editor offers insight into the publication’s goals and aesthetic position. The main aim of the journal is to offer to its readership news and critical reflections about contemporary music on an international scale, while at the same time focusing attention on musical activities in Italy.[2] The two forewords clearly identify the main problems of Italian musical life: isolation of music from the other arts, literature, and culture in general; the need to stimulate the formation of critical thinking in music; and the need to renew teaching programs and methods in Italian music institutes. These main themes were treated and developed constantly throughout the journal’s life, beginning in the very first issue, where the anonymous author of “Commentari” (almost certainly Gatti himself) denounces the miserable state of musical studies in Italy. Contributions on the same topic were given by the composer Luigi Perrachio with an open letter the member of parliament Giuseppe Mulé, requesting modernization of study programs in the Conservatories; and similar demands were posed by Gino Roncaglia, Alfredo Parente, Alfredo Casella among others.

La Rassegna musicale also devotes attention to discussions about aesthetics and philosophy of music, stimulated by the adherence of many collaborators to the philosophy of idealism that gained resonance in Italy thanks to the influential philosopher Benedetto Croce.[3] Although in essence Gatti’s journal was amenable to Croce’s aesthetics, it avoided siding either with those that openly approved or disapproved of these principles, preferring to offer its pages as a free space for debate and discussion of conflicting views about the renewal of musical language that was taking place at that time.  As a demonstration of its openness to different critical approaches, the journal hosted several historical essays by scholars of positivistic orientation such as Hans Engel, Alfred Einstein, Gino Roncaglia, Ugo Sesini.

In Gatti’s intention, his journal was also a place for confrontation on fundamental themes connected to the development of contemporary music. In 1930 the editor launched a debate on the theme of musical interpretation, which gathered contributions from composers, musicologists, and writers such as Alfredo Casella and Leone Ginzburg. In the same year, an articulate confrontation took place among Guido Pannain, Alfredo Casella and Alfredo Parente on contemporary Italian music and its current position on the international scene. In 1937 the journal launched a broad survey on radio broadcasting, in which music professionals - critics, composers, conductors, and performers such as Franco Alfano, Ferdinando Ballo, Luigi Dallapiccola, Andrea Della Corte, Vittorio Gui, Gian Francesco Malipiero, Goffredo Petrassi, Ildebrando Pizzetti - analyzed the relationship between radio, listeners and contemporary music production.

Several series of articles are dedicated to contemporary composers and compositions. In 1928 Luigi Pannain starts publishing a series of articles entitled “Compositori del nostro tempo” (Composers of our time), where he profiles Paul Hindemith, Igor Stravinskij (Stravinsky), Feruccio Busoni, Arthur Honegger, Arnold Schoenberg, Ernest Bloch, Karol Szymanowski, Manuel De Falla, and Ralph Vaughan Williams, among others. In addition to this, single articles and analysis were dedicated to the young generation of composers: Guido Gatti on Luigi Dallapiccola and Goffredo Petrassi; Ferdinando Ballo on Giovanni Salviucci; Gianandrea Gavazzeni on Dmitri Šostakovič (Shostakovich), Leoš Janaček, Béla Bartók, and Jean Sibelius; Dallapiccola on Vito Frazzi; and Renato Mariani on Virgilio Mortari. Many composers, too, published articles on Gatti’s journal. An irregularly published column appears from 1930 to 1934 with the title “Confessioni di musicisti” (Confessions of musicians), hosting thoughts by Pizzetti, Casella, Bloch, Malipiero, and Ernst Křenek.

Following the declared intention of interdisciplinarity, in 1928 the Rassegna started publishing a pioneering series of articles about music iconography by Luigi Parigi, editor of La Critica musicale; stimulated by this, the next year Karl Geiringer published a long essay on the presence of music subjects in Flemish and Dutch paintings.

Contributors

Since its foundation, La Rassegna musicale was conceived as a choral publication, with an diverse ensemble of contributors. Many were previously members of the editorial team of Il Pianoforte; but over the years a new generation of musicologists—such as Massimo Mila, Fedele d’Amico and others—came to widen and renew the perspectives of the journal.

The journal's founder and editor Guido Maggiorino Gatti (1892-1973) had his first editorial experience with the weekly music journal La Riforma musicale (Alessandria-Turin, 1913-15, 1918) where he served as as editor-in-chief. In 1920 he founded Il Pianoforte (Turin, 1920-1927) and became artistic director of the newborn avant-garde Teatro di Torino. His parallel careers as organizer of music events and as musicologist led him to become editor of several series and music encyclopedias, secretary general of the first edition of Maggio musicale fiorentino (1933) and head of a number of international congresses of music held in Italy. He worked as music critic and correspondent of many foreign music journals and he was also administrator of the film company Lux Film based in Rome. In the Rassegna musicale he was the author of the column “Commentari” where he treated questions connected to modern music, with a particular attention to music education. He also supplied many reports from the festivals S.I.M.C. (Società Italiana di Musica Contemporanea), and essays about the youngest generations of Italian composers, the relationship between contemporary music and the public, and problems of interpretation.

Massimo Mila (1910-1988). Music critic, writer, and anti-fascist militant (for this imprisoned two times in 1929 and 1935), he was in later years teacher of music history at the Conservatory and University in Turin. He was active as music critic for several newspapers and author of fundamental books on Verdi, Brahms, Stravinskij, Mozart, and Bartók. His first review for the Rassegna dates to 1929. Following the years in prison, his role in the editorial team of the journal grew constantly to the point that that he can be considered the de facto editor-in-chief. In the Rassegna he published an impressive number of reviews of books, music and discs, and articles about aesthetics, music and cinema, and new Russian music, among others. Occasionally he wrote correspondence from Florence, Venice, and Milan.

Guido Pannain (1891-1977). Composer, professor of music history at the Naples Conservatory, and music critic for several Italian newspapers, he published books on Neapolitan music and Monteverdi. For the Rassegna he wrote essays on contemporary music and on aesthetics. He was also a prolific reviewer.

Luigi Perrachio (1883-1966). Composer, pianist and musicologist, Perrachio taught piano and composition at the Liceo musicale in Turin. His sharp sensitivity for contemporary music, especially of the French area, led him to write many reviews for La Rassegna musicale. He was also author of a series of articles, “Le mie letture al pianoforte,” where he analyzed piano compositions by Bach-Busoni, Weber, Schubert, and Beethoven.

Alberto Mantelli (1909-1967). Collaborator in both the Rassegna and the Rivista musicale italiana, he had a long career as responsible for music programs at EIAR (Ente Italiano Audizioni Radiofoniche), then RAI (Radiotelevisione Italiana). In 1956 he founded the journal L’Approdo musicale. From 1937 he was correspondent from Florence for the Rassegna, where he published essays about Stravinskij, Ravel, Hindemith, and Alban Berg.

Gianandrea Gavazzeni (1909-1996). Mainly known for his career as a conductor specialized in nineteenth-century and contemporary opera theater, and for his role as artistic director of the Teatro alla Scala, Gavazzeni was also a composer and music critic. His first correspondence from Milan was published on the Rassegna in 1931; in addition, he published essays on Bartók, Sibelius, Janaček, Šostakovič, and Szymanowski.

Ferdinando Ballo (1906-1959) was a literature and music critic, and collaborator in many journals such as L’Italia letteraria and L’Ambrosiano. He founded the orchestra and concert season Pomeriggi musicali di Milano and was artistic director of the Festival di musica contemporanea in Venice. In 1949 he became vice director of the RAI center in Milan. He started his collaboration with the Rassegna in 1934, and soon become one of the most active reviewers of new music and books; he also contributed to debates about music criticism, musical interpretation, and new tendencies in composition.

Fedele d’Amico (1912-1990). Music critic, son of the theatre historian and critic Silvio d’Amico. After studying pianoforte and composition with Alfredo Casella he took up journalism and worked as a music critic for a number of newspapers. He was editor of the Enciclopedia dello Spettacolo and of the Nuova Rivista musicale italiana from 1967 on. He was vice-president of S.I.M.C. and held representative roles at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma and at the Accademia filarmonica romana. In 1963 he began teaching music history at the University of Rome and from 1985 he was artistic director of Maggio musicale fiorentino. For the Rassegna he wrote a number of reviews and articles about Pizzetti, Petrassi, Malipiero, Modest Musorgskij, and music and cinema.

The following table identifies authors signing with initials and pseudonyms in La Rassegna musicale:

 

a. dam., Adam.

Adelmo Damerini

g. pan.

Guido Pannain

g., G. M. G., gmg, Speculum  

Guido Maggiorino Gatti

l. r.

Luigi Ronga

perr.

Luigi Perrachio

a. c.

Attilio Cimbro

a. d. c.

Andrea Della Corte

A. de Bl.

André de Blonay

a. e., A. E.

Alfred Einstein

a. par.

Alfredo Parente

B. L., b. l.

Bettina Lupo

d. bulfe

Domenico Bulferetti

e. bor.

Enzo Borrelli

e. d.

Ettore Desderi

E. Z., e. z.

Emilia Zanetti

f. b.

Ferdinando Ballo

F. d’A., l. d’a.

Fedele d’Amico

f. f.

Fabio Fano

G. G., g. gav., G. Gav., gian. gav.

Gianandrea Gavazzeni

g. piam.

Guido Piamonte

G. R. D., G. R.-D.

Gastone Rossi-Doria

l. rog., l. rogn.

Luigi Rognoni

l. ronga

Luigi Ronga

M. C. T., M. C.-T., m. c. t.

Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco

m. m.

Massimo Mila

m. pil.

Mario Pilati

r. p.

Rodolfo Paoli

s. a. l.

Sebastiano Arturo Luciani

 

This RIPM catalogue is based on the copies held by the New York Public Library and the Biblioteca musicale “Andrea Della Corte” in Torino.

 

[1] The new journal is presented on the last issue of Il Pianoforte (vol. VIII n. 12, December 1927, p. 407).

[2] This in a period marked by the rise of the Fascist regime, which discouraged all kinds of manifestations of the so-called “esterofilia” (xenophilia) and encouraged nationalistic tendencies. Without any explicit espression of dissent, RAM refused to be involved in the political debate, and continued to express its interest in contemporary music, without avoiding mention of those countries and musicians that openly disapproved of the Fascist government.

[3] Benedetto Croce (1860–1952), main representative of Idealistic philosophy in Italy, was a dominant figure in aesthetics and literary criticism in the first half of the twentieth century. His theory of art is expressed in his well-known Breviario di estetica (1913), where he promoted an idea of art as intuition, completely formed in the artist’s mind; the physical realization of the work of art itself (in painting, sculpture, music, poetry) being just a physical work necessary for the practical business of the communication and remembrance of the intuition. A consequence of this was the devaluation of the technical and moral side of art.

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