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Napoli musicale

(Naples, 1868-1886)

Prepared by Elvidio Surian
Online only (2018)

The journal Napoli musicale [NAM]—subtitled “Giornale di musica ed arti affini”—was published in Naples from July 1868 to August 1886 and was intended as a continuation of the Gazzetta musicale di Napoli (1852-1868). Printed throughout in a three-column format, the journal was published regularly in bimonthly installments, with interruptions in January-March 1880 and in October-November 1883. Each issue consists of four or eight pages numbered separately. NAM lacks a real publisher and its printing was alternatively entrusted to various printing shops of the city. It is addressed to a small circle of music lovers and professional musicians who characterized the rich Neapolitan musical and intellectual life of the time. It was founded by Luigi Mazzone (1820-1897), a composer and music pedagogue, editor-in-chief throughout, and its sole proprietor until 1880, when he was succeeded by Umberto Mazzone (1862-1936).

The first part of each issue of the journal generally contains a short essay-like of historical interest or dealing with significant musical events that took place in Naples, such as newly composed operatic and sacred works, the artistic activities of the alumni and faculty of the Conservatory of music, newly founded institutions such as the Società Filarmonica Bellini. A number of articles are devoted to the need to reform music studies in Naples and elsewhere in Italy, in particular related to the upgrading of vocal techniques, a preliminary condition for the revival of national music tradition—a topic frequently discussed in music journals of the time. In fact, NAM maintains throughout a strong position in favor of Italian music, not exclusively limited to opera but regarding as well the promotion of instrumental chamber music. The majority of the essays—of the rubrics as well—is not signed or is by unknown local writers, with the exception of Giuseppe Mascia (1808-1879), a composer, violinist, and an active collaborator with various journals of his day.

Among the most significant aspects that characterizes NAM is the extensive chronicling of musical events that took place in Naples and, to a lesser extent, in other Italian cities and abroad, in Paris in particular. Beginning in 1869 the rubric “Accademie” [Concerts] regularly provides ample information on performances of operatic works as well as of spoken comedies, sacred and chamber compositions that took place in major and minor Neapolitan theatres, churches and private homes. The rubric “Notiziario” is entirely devoted to brief notices of a variety of current events.