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Gazzetta musicale di Milano

(Milan, 1842-1862, 1866-1902)

Prepared by Luke Jensen, Marcello Conati
(2000: 5 volumes, 2008-2010: 14 volumes)

Published by Giovanni Ricordi’s Stabilimento musicale in Milan, this weekly journal, which emphasized the interests of its publisher, quickly established itself as Italy’s most important music periodical.

Giovanni Ricordi (1785-1853) founder and patriarch of the firm bearing his name was the owner of the journal. As primary publisher of the operas of Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti and Verdi, and almost every other Italian composer who achieved even a modest amount of fame, Ricordi’s career followed and helped to shape the institutions of Italian opera. After his death in 1853, the traditions he had helped to forge continued with his eldest son Tito (1811-1888) at the head of the powerful company.

The journal’s first editor was Giacinto Battaglia (1803-1861), an experienced journalist, theatrical critic and polemicist. Battaglia resigned in 1846 and was succeeded by Alberto Mazzucato. Trained as a mathematician, Mazzucato studied music at the Conservatory in Padua and served as editor of the Gazzetta from 1846 until 1858. Subsequently Mazzucato became the conductor of the La Scala orchestra and director of the Milan Conservatory. Filippo Filippi (1830-1887), who was educated in law, contributed regularly to the journal, and edited it from 1858 to 1862.

Reviews of new operas occupy an important place in the Gazzetta musicale di Milano. For works first performed at La Scala or in other Milanese venues, one can generally find a major review at the outset of an issue. There are also reviews of major operas first performed in other cities, such as Luigi Ferdinando Casamorata’s review of Verdi’s Macbeth (Florence, 1847). While reviews and news of Verdi’s works occupy an important place within the journal’s pages, notices of the operas of lesser-known composers—among them Giuseppe Apolloni, Gaetano Braga, Antonio Cagnoni, Vincenzo Fioravanti, Giovanni Pacini, Errico Petrella, Federico and Luigi Ricci and Lauro Rossi—are also found in abundance. The growth of concerts in Italian cities is also well documented through reviews of the activities of Italy’s many vocal and instrumental societies. Also of interest are the numerous reviews of piano transcriptions based on operas of Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi and many others.

A section devoted to current musical events in Milan frequently follows the opening review or article. This contains not only short notices on artists and current repertory, but also substantial reviews of musical events in Milan held at theaters such as the Teatro di Santa Radegonda and the Teatro Re. Important singers are regularly reviewed in the Gazzetta, and biographical sketches and studies of singers, instrumentalists and composers provide an extremely rich repository of information. Letters from correspondents commenting on the musical life in Italian cities other than Milan follow the reviews. Carlo Andrea Gambini, for example, writes from Genoa, Luigi Ferdinando Casamorata from Florence, and Angelo Catalani from Modena. For many years, the Paris correspondent Achille Montignani provided insightful observations regarding Italian music and musicians active in the French capital and in London.

Many articles are unsigned, but several Italian writers are identified. Among these are the editors Mazzucato and Filippi; the composer, theorist and writer on music aesthetics Raimondo Boucheron; and a number of occasional correspondents such as the composers Giovanni Pacini and Lauro Rossi, and the Italian patriot and writer Opprandino Arrivabene. There are also several noteworthy series by, for example, Girolamo Calvi (on Giovanni Simone Mayr), and by Angelo Catelani (on Orazio Vecchi and Claudio Merulo). Contributions by Fétis, Wagner, Liszt and Berlioz, among others—which first appeared in foreign journals such as the Revue et Gazette musicale de Paris and London’s Musical World—appear in translation.