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Note d'archivio per la storia musicale

(Rome, 1924-1927, 1930-1943)

Prepared by Elvidio Surian
1 volume (2004)

The first volume of Note d’archivio per la storia musicale was published in 1924 and the last in 1943. Raffaele Casimiri (1880-1943) was the journal’s only editor. In 1925, 1927, and 1930 NAR was printed in single installments, while the remaining yearly volumes were issued in three or four fascicles at irregular intervals. Publication of the periodical was abruptly concluded in April 1943, due to Casimiri’s sudden death. NAR follows a structure typical of other scholarly journals published in Italy in those years, such as that of the very influential Rivista musicale italiana (1894-1955). The first pages of each issue are reserved for leading articles on the history of musical chapels, on aspects of composers’ biographies and on analyses of individual works. In general, about seventy percent of each issue is devoted to essays, twenty percent to reviews of publications, and ten percent to miscellaneous news. Of the music periodicals published in Italy in the years between the two World Wars, Note d’archivio was the only one—with the possible exception of the Bollettino bibliografico-musicale (Milan, 1926-1933)—to focus on the treatment of previously unpublished historical archival documentation. Following the historiographic methods of German musicology, the periodical aims to bring to light the music of the past, focusing its attention on the production of erudite studies and on publishing reviews of critical editions.

Casimiri, is a particularly representative figure of the time and one linked directly to the Cecilian movement. Noteworthy in NAR are Casimiri’s contributions about the history of musical activities of Rome’s chapels, and Palestrina, whose importance had already emerged and was fostered in Italy as well as in Catholic Germany during the nineteenth century. Among NAR’s features is the particular attention given to the reconstruction of musical activities of many Italian chapels, a type of research previously available almost exclusively in regional general publications. These include partial or comprehensive reconstructions of musical activities of chapels of many Italian cities, and provide a wide range of information on each institution: its organization, the names of chapel members (composers, singers, organists, other categories of musicians) along with their duties, salaries, and initiatives for the restoration or the construction of new organs. Articles are annotated with references to archival documents and manuscript diaries.

Although sacred music is given prominent consideration, a sizeable number of essays are dedicated to topics concerning the Italian tradition in instrumental music and in the art of singing, notably about Giuseppe Torelli, Paganini, Spontini, and the repertory of such famed eighteenth-century singers as Gaetano Majorano and Nicolò Grimaldi. Also of interest is Casimiri’s series of articles on the Cappella Sistina diaries (1535-1560)—documents that record day-to-day occasions in the Pope’s private chapel.