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La Melodia

(Padova, 1869-1870)

Prepared by Elvidio Surian
Online only (2018)

The journal La Melodia. Giornale musicale-letterario [LMA] was published in Padua without interruptions twice a month from 1 July 1869 to 1 August 1870 – regularly on the 1st and 15th day of each month – by the Stabilimento Tipografico Musicale di M. Giammartini e Compagni, and printed throughout in a triple-column format. Altogether, twenty-seven issues – each consisting of four pages—twelve in the first semester (July to December 1869: 48 pages numbered continuously; 1870: January to June, 48 pages, July to August, 12 pages). Melchiade Giammartini (1812-1891), the owner of the printing shop, is the sole proprietor of the journal; poet Luigi Farina and composer Eugenio Chevrier are the editors. Most of the rubrics are not signed, and the majority of the essays are by local authors that are not recorded in current musical dictionaries.

As stated in the introductory “Programma”, the primary aim of the journal is to contribute to raise the cultural level of musical knowledge through critical essays and the publication of pieces for solo voice and piano and for solo piano, a repertory very suitable for performance in private circles and printed in a new system that can be chieply sold. To this end, each monthly issue offers to the reader an edition, independently numbered, of an original aria/romanza for voice and piano by the following mostly minor local composers: Pietro Bresciani, V. Persichini, G. A. Picconi, F. Pasini, C. Pedrotti, Giuseppe Zonghi, A. Cagnoni, Vincenzo Bruti, L. Antolisei, Giuseppe Apolloni, Giovanni Rota, Giuseppe Pasquale Goldberg, Davide Urmacher, Marco Buscovich, Giuseppe Burgio Villafiorita, L. Farina, Francesco Malipiero, A. Bazzini, F. Marchetti.

The title itself of the journal reflects the clear-cut traditional stand it maintains in favor of national music, in particular with regard to opera, for which Italy was claiming its leadership as the land of bel canto. This stance is inspired by Rossini’s music, as openly stated in the “Programma” and many a time throughout the journal.

LMA’s emphasis is placed almost exclusively on operatic music, while little attention is given to instrumental and sacred music. In keeping with its nationalistic stance the journal publishes a series of articles by the Venetian composer and music theorist Melchiorre Balbi (1796-1879) on the prominent role given in Italian operas to graceful, singable melodies accompanied by a simple harmonic language. Worthy of attention are Balbi’s analyses of the intrinsic qualities of the melodic styles of Paisiello (article of 15 ottobre 1869), Bellini and other 19th century composers (1° agosto, 1° and 15 settembre 1869), and particularly of Rossini’s Tancredi (1° gennaio and 1° febbraio 1870), Cenerentola and Il Barbiere di Siviglia (15 aprile 1870).

The rubrics “Rivista teatrale”, “Nostre corrispondenze” and “Notizie musicali” are characterized by chronicles of operatic activities in major Italian centres (Milan, Turin, Genoa, Venice, Naples, Rome, Florence) as well in peripheral provincial cities, mainly of the Veneto area (Schio, Cittadella, Treviso, Conegliano, Lecco, Como, Modena, Rimini, Vicenza, Belluno, Verona) and of the three active theatres in Padua (Teatro Garibaldi, Teatro Nuovo, Teatro Concordi).

In August 1870 the journal ceased publication without explanation.