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L'arte pianistica

(Naples, 1914-1925)

Prepared by Elvidio Surian
Online only (2020)

L’Arte pianistica nella vita e nella coltura musicale [API] / Vita musicale italiana [VMI] was published monthly in Naples from January 1914 to July 1928 – bimonthly only in 1914. Each monthly issue consists of an average of 8 to 12 pages independently numbered and printed in a two-column format; publication was interrupted in April-June 1915 and in April-July 1927.

Alessandro Longo (1864-1945) was the founder and throughout the sole proprietor, director and guiding spirit of the journal; Gennaro Napoli (1881-1943) was its editor-in-chief from 1914 to 1924. Both Longo and Napoli held teaching positions at the Naples Conservatory of music. Longo was a notable exponent of Italian musical life of the time, very active as pianist, composer, musicologist, editor Domenico Scarlatti’s complete keyboard works, and adept organizer of concert activities in Naples. Among the scholars who contributed articles to API are Arnaldo Bonaventura, Guido M. Gatti, Felice Boghen, Raffaello De Rensis, Giovanni Tebaldini, Ulisse Prota-Giurleo, Guido Pannain.

As stated in the title itself, the journal’s emphasis is placed almost exclusively to piano literature, of interest mostly to amateurs and teachers of the instrument alike; little attention is given to operatic and to symphonic music. Longo publishes a series of essays of music analyses of piano works of Beethoven, J. S. Bach, Liszt, Schumann. Noteworthy are his articles on piano pedagogy concerning the proper movement of the hands, the use of pedals, fingerings, the performance of legatos, scales, etc. Longo and his collaborators were strongly opposed to the modernist tendencies of the futurist movement and of the exponents of the so called “Generation of the 1880s”, of Alfredo Casella in particular.

API constitutes a primary and invaluable source of information on current musical activities that took place in Naples. Worthy of attention is the rubric “Symphonia” , which documents the numerous of concerts, mainly of chamber music and of piano solo recitals, which were promoted by the local Società del Quartetto, the Società Amici della musica, the Associazione Alessandro Scarlatti, and the Società dei Concerti. A significant aspect of the journal is the regular publication at the opening of each issue of biographical sketches of 1 to 3 pages of by now mostly little known composers and pianists, including the reproduction of their portraits.

Beginning with the January 1926 issue, the journal continued to be irregularly published with the new title Vita musicale italiana: 12 monthly issues of 8 to 16 pages each, 6 issues in 1927 and 1928. Except from some marginal adjustments introduced in the graphic design, VMI maintained steadily, in the main, the same structure of API, with more attention given to historical topics. Longo continued to be the director until February 1928, when he was substituted by his son Achille Longo (1900-1954), a composer engaged in the advancement of contemporary music; he contributes with numerous accounts of operatic performances in Naples. Composer Franco Michele Napolitano (1887-1960) assumed the position of editor-in-chief. Under the direction of Longo’s son, the journal devotes more attention to aesthetic issues concerning modern music. Publication of VMI was interrupted without explanation in July 1928.