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(Florence, 1856-1859)

Prepared by Marco Capra
1 volume (1989)

The ninety-nine weekly or bimonthly issues of L’Armonia represent a continuation of the Gazzetta musicale di Firenze. The journal’s publisher and proprietor, Giovan Gualberto Guidi, was an instrumentalist at the Teatro della Pergola, the publisher of both the Gazzetta musicale di Firenze and Boccherini, and a promoter of concerts. The direction of L’Armonia was entrusted to Abramo Basevi, a medical doctor, author of philosophical and literary studies, composer, and one of the most knowledgeable Italian music critics of the period. Basevi’s most important contribution to L’Armonia is the serialized publication of the first part of his Studio sulle Opere di Giuseppe Verdi, perhaps the most thorough and original of nineteenth-century investigations of the structural components (libretto and music) of the composer’s operas from Nabucco to La Traviata, and the source of much of the terminology employed in twentieth-century musicology. Basevi also contributes a technical and historical study of ancient and modern melody in Italy, and an historical synthesis of the origin and contemporary decadence of instrumental music. Of particular interest are Basevi’s series of articles entitled “Rassegna di giornali musicali” [Review of music journals], as well as individual articles by other authors, in which specific polemical articles taken from the foreign and the Italian press—La Revue et Gazette musicale de Paris, Gaceta musical de Madrid, L’Italia musicale, etc—are subjected to analysis and discussion.

In contrast to the Gazzetta Musicale di Firenze, the focus of L’Armonia is wider with more space devoted to literature and to the plastic and figurative arts. Instrumental music is also given prominent consideration. The journal itself organized concerts of “classical music,” and featured performances of compositions by eighteenth-century composers including Pergolesi, Gluck, Handel, Benedetto Marcello, Paër, Mozart and Cimarosa. But the real attention of the journal was centered on opera, and, above all, on the relationship between literary and musical texts. For new operas the journal offers analysis of music and libretto and a discussion of specific productions in Florence and other major Italian cities. A number of interesting and little-known works are treated: Bottesini’s L’Assedio di Firenze, Enrico Petrella’s Elnava, Pacini’s Margherita Pusterla, Emanuele Muzio’s Le Due regine, and Apolloni’s L’Ebreo. Two series of articles by Pietro Raffaelli are dedicated to the history and reform of the libretto in Italy. Ample space is also given to the “Uffizio di commissione melodrammatica” [Office of the commission of melodramas], which Guidi created for the distribution of poetic texts for music.

Reviews of operas produced in the several Florentine theaters and in the major theaters of other Italian cities are regular features. Therein, are treated many important singers, the majority, performers in Florence at the middle of the century and active on the Italian opera circuit throughout Europe and the Americas. Among those cited are Marianna Barbieri-Nini, Carlo Baucardé, Giuditta Bertramelli, Remigio Bertolini, Virginia Boccabadati, Adelaide Borghi-Mamo, Carlotta Carozzi-Zucchi, Filippo Coletti, Giovanni Corsi, Adelaide Cortesi, Edy D’Annia, Maria De Gianni-Vives, Enrico Delle Sedie, Gaetano Fraschini, Antonio Giuglini, Catherine Goldberg-Strossi, Settimo Malvezzi, Andrea Mazzati, Raffaele Mitrate, Emilio Pancani, Euphrosyne Parepa, Antonio Prudenza, Sebastiano and Giorgio Ronconi, and Raffaele Scalese. The principal collaborators or correspondents of L’Armonia include Luigi Ferdinando Casamorata, Luigi Delarte, Carlo Andrea Gambini and Pietro Torrigiani.