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La Cultura musicale

(Bologna, 1922-1923)

Prepared by Elvidio Surian
Online only (2006)

La cultura musicale was published in 1922 in five bimonthly installments; it ceased abruptly to be printed with the second issue of 1923. Each issue contains an average of about 60 pages. The journal was published in Bologna by Umberto Pizzi, an editor active from the early years of the 20th century, who also sold musical scores and instruments. In 1924 the Pizzi firm was partially taken over by the publisher Bongiovanni, still active today in the same city.

The journal’s guiding spirit, editor and principal collaborator of the journal was Francesco Vatielli (Pesaro 1876 – Portogruaro 1946), who held a prominent position in national musical life of the time and who was one of the first Italian musicologists to write on the history of Italian instrumental music of the 17th and 18th centuries. From 1906 to 1945 he directed the Music Library – presently the Civico Museo Bibliografico Musicale – of the Liceo Musicale in Bologna. Vatielli was among the founding fathers of the “Associazione dei musicologi italiani”, created in 1908, and was very active in the field of music education as well as in journalism as music critic of the daily newspaper Il resto del Carlino.

As stated (“Ai lettori”) in the the inaugural issue, the primary goal of the periodical was to contribute to the revitalization and advancement of Italy’s critical and historical musical studies. In this sense, it reflects the efforts taken in this direction on the national level since the beginning of the century.

La cultura musicale follows the structure that is typical of other music journals published in Italy in the first decades of the 20th century. The first section of each issue is reserved for the principal articles dealing with a wide range of historical, biographical, and ethno-musicological topics. The following section is mostly dedicated to reproductions in facsimile of precious documentary sources, such as the autograph of Mozart’s Quaerite primum, KV 73v – composed in 1770 for admission to the “Accademia Filarmonica” in Bologna –, autographs of Tartini, portraits of musicians, and letters of composers.

Of particular interest is the rubric “Attualità” dedicated to arguments, forcefully debated at the time, concerning the teaching of music history and the institution of musicology courses in Italian conservatories and universities (for example, see the essay in vol. II, n. 2). Most noteworthy is the rubric reserved for miscellaneous news and reviews of current musical events, reported by correspondents from the main Italian centers (Venice, Rome, Naples, Florence, Milan, Turin, Palermo, Pesaro and Bologna) as well as from abroad (Vienna, Budapest, London, Paris, Berlin and Donaueschingen). Regularly published are reviews of books and music editions, with priority given to works – mainly instrumental and chamber vocal – by Italian contemporary composers (Respighi, Pizzetti, Malipiero, Alaleona, Agostini and Ravanello).

Among the principal collaborators are musicologists and music critics who at the time were very active in Italian musical life: D. Alaleona, A. della Corte, G. Pannain, G. M. Gatti, G. Fara, F. Liuzzi.

With exception of the last fascicle, advertisements of new editions of the Pizzi firm appear regularly at the end of each issue.