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Gazzetta musicale di Firenze

(Florence, 1853-1855)

Prepared by Marco Capra
1 volume (1989)

The emergence of the Gazzetta musicale di Firenze coincides with the critical political period of the last years of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and of the government of Leopoldo II of Lorena. Published weekly, this journal, together with two Milanese journals, the Gazzetta musicale di Milano and L’Italia musicale, belongs to a small number of periodical publications that foreshadow the nascent discipline of Italian musicology. The publisher Giovan Gualberto Guidi was the Gazzetta’s owner and director. An instrumentalist at the Florentine Teatro della Pergola, Guidi’s publishing career extended from 1844 to 1882 and included the journals L’Armonia and Boccherini, each of which continued the tradition initiated by the Gazzetta musicale di Firenze.

The principal editors, collaborators or correspondents of the Gazzetta musicale di Firenze included Ermanno Picchi, director of the school of music connected with the Accademia delle Belle Arti in Florence; Abramo Basevi, a medical doctor, champion of philosophical and literary studies, critic and composer; Luigi Ferdinando Casamorata; Carlo Andrea Gambini; Olimpio Mariotti; and Luigi Picchianti. An administration independent from Guidi, the “proprietario e responsabile,” was never properly declared, however, and the role of initial supervision and critical guidance of the journal clearly belonged to Ermanno Picchi. He gradually made room for the growing influence of Abramo Basevi who during 1855 seems to have taken in hand the leadership of the journal.

Each issue is structured in two parts: the first containing historical or theoretical essays, current events news and polemics, and, the second, reviews of particularly noteworthy musical events, as well as literary and biographical articles. While the new and recent operas of Donizetti, Mercadante and Verdi are afforded a prominent position in the journal’s columns, considerable space is given to the works of their lesser-known contemporaries, among them Nicola Vaccai, Vincenzo Capecelatro, Polline Ronzi, Gualtiero Sanelli, Thalberg and Pacini. Great attention is afforded performances of Meyerbeer’s opera in many European and Italian centers. Although instrumental and choral music are not central issues within the journal, attention is paid to articles about the Viennese masters Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven through the borrowing of texts from foreign journals.

The character of the Gazzetta musicale di Firenze may be defined by its constant focus on local interests, by its assiduous attention to Italian and European activities, and by an interest in theoretical, historical and aesthetic issues. Florentine musical life, in particular, clearly emerges from the very frequent accounts of theatrical productions, liturgical functions, concerts, private music meetings; from news about the Società musicale di mutuo soccorso and activities in the schools of music, and from the numerous opposing polemics, above all, with other periodicals. While operatic performances and concerts given in Milan and Genoa are discussed in fair detail some attention is also given to other Italian cities such as Naples, Venice and Trieste. Interest in music making in other parts of Europe is generally focused on performances of Italian music by Italian performers at the operatic theaters of Paris and London. The Parisian première of Verdi’s Les vêpres siciliennes, for example, was given extensive treatment in the journal through reproduction of the most important reviews published in the French capital. There are also reports about Italian musicians residing in London— Fabio Campana, Antonio Bazzini, Luigi Gordigiani.