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Harmonia. Rivista italiana di musica

(Rome, 1913-1914)

Prepared by Elvidio Surian
Online only (2012)

Harmonia. Rivista italiana di musica [HMA] was published in eight monthly issues: Vol. 1, Nos 1-4, September to December 1913, and Vol II, Nos 3-6, March to June 1914; and two double issues, Vol. II, Nos. 1-2, January-February 1914, and Nos. 7-8, August-September 1914. All but the last issue was printed in Città di Castello by the Casa Editrice S. Lapi, while the last issue was published in Rome by the Tipografia Fratelli Centenari. The number of pages of the single issues and the double issue of August-September 1914 ranges from forty-nine to fifty-eight, while the double issue of January-February 1914 contains ninety-six pages. Single column format is used for all articles excepting the final portion of each issue, the “Rivista della stampa italiana” [Review of the Italian press] and “Tra le riviste” column [Among the journals], which are presented in two-column format. The name of an editor is not given. It appears that the journal’s editorial policies were governed by the “Comitato di redazione” [Editorial board] listed at the outset of each issue. Vittorio Grassi (1878-1958) is the creator of the elegant decorations of the cover page and of the drawings accompanying the articles and rubrics.

The home location of the periodical is Rome, a city that at the time was experiencing a particularly rich cultural life. And it is not accidental that the editorial board of HMA is composed of some of the most notable exponents of Italian musical life: Ferruccio Busoni, Agostino Cameroni, Domenico Alaleona, Franco da Venezia, Tomaso Montefiore, Gennaro Napoli, Ildebrando Pizzetti, Franco Raineri, Ottorino Respighi, Vincenzo Tommasini, and Alfredo Villetti. The primary aim of the journal is to offer a variety of topics of informative and critical interest, free from following any particular doctrinaire ideology. It ranks as one of the most important Italian music journals of the second decade of the twentieth century.

The opening pages of each issue are reserved for a series of articles that deal mainly with current topics related to Italian musical life. Worthy of attention are two essays by Busoni—the newly appointed director (1913) of the Liceo Musicale in Bologna—which summarize his aesthetic theories for the first time in Italian. The periodical also dedicates space to aspects of music instruction that are frequently discussed in other Italian musical journals of the time. For example: Respighi’s appeal to conservatory students to broaden their professional studies; the necessity of introducing obligatory choral singing in Italian primary schools, as present in other European countries; and, experiments for the enhancement of the teaching of vocal techniques. An essay by Alessandro Ghignoni (1857-1924), a staunch supporter of the Cecilian movement, is dedicated to the recent reform of sacred music in Italy. The poet-musician Giannotto Bastianelli (1883-1927), a devoted follower of philosopher Benedetto Croce (1866-1952) publishes an article that focuses on the aesthetic aspects of modern music; composer Tomaso Montefiore (1855-1933) supplies information on the latest new proposals on author rights legislation; and musicologist Sebastiano Arturo Luciani (1884-1950) discusses the role of music in the new medium of motion pictures. Also published are historical essays, as is the case of the surveys by Francesco Vatielli (1877-1946) on the history of the violoncello, with reference to the important role played by virtuosos of the instrument active in Bologna in the seventeenth century; and, by Giovanni Tebaldini (1864-1952) on the contributions given to musicology by Italian scholars during the nineteenth century.

Following the opening pages, each issue regularly contains rubrics variously titled: “Il Mese” [The month], “La vita musicale” [Musical life], “Notizie e curiosità” [News and curiosities], “Notizie a fascio” [Bundle of news], “Le società musicali” [Musical societies]. They furnish information about current musical activities and musical events, reviews of symphonic and chamber music concerts and of significant performances of operatic works—for example those that have taken place to celebrate the centenary of Verdi’s birth. Quite numerous are the correspondents from the principal Italian and European cities. Among the most notable correspondents are Guido Michelli from Ancona, Pizzetti from Florence, Montefiore from Rome, Felice Lattuada from Milan, Gennaro Napoli from Naples, Guido Gasperini from Parma, Amilcare Zanella from Pesaro, Franco da Venezia from Turin, Rudolf Cahn-Speyer from Berlin, Edward J. Dent from London, Carl A. Rau from Munich, Richard Buchmayer from Dresden, Max Unger from Leipzig and Guido Bianchini from Paris. The most extensive and frequent reports of operatic and current activities published throughout HMA treat Rome, and German cities among the correspondence transmitted from abroad. Noteworthy is the rubric “Le società musicali” [Musical societies]. It provides ample information—brief historical accounts, aims, present and future activities—of numerous musical societies active in Rome, Milan, Bologna, Como, Turin, Biella, Florence, and Siena.

As a result of the severe economic difficulties undeniably due to the international political crisis, HMA ceased publication in September 1914.