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La Nuova musica

(Florence, 1896-1919)

Prepared by Marcello Conati

La Nuova musica [NMU] was first published on 31 January 1896 by its founder, the pianist and composer Edgardo Del Valle de Paz (1861-1920), a professor of piano at the Istituto Musicale in Florence. Del Paz directed and administered the journal without interruption until its final issue.

La Nuova musica documents Florentine music history and bridges a gap existing in Italian music periodical literature since 1882, when the earlier Florentine periodical Boccherini (1862-1882) ceased publication. Each issue of NMU comprises two sections: first, testo [text], features articles about music events and music criticism and constitutes the main six- or eight-page section of the periodical, and second, musica, a supplement of eight pages which contains two or three compositions for piano or for voice and piano. This twofold structure is suspended beginning with the first issue of 1909. The first section is generally reserved for a critical essay on contemporary topics, followed by an article of historical interest. The successive pages contain reviews of books, published music, concerts and operatic performances. The final section entitled Notiziario [Chronicle] and later Cronachetta artistica [Brief artistic chronicle], contains notices of many concerts and operatic performances in Florence and other cities. Only one issue, double issue no. 222-23, is dedicated exclusively to a single topic, Franz Liszt on the centenary of his birth.

The original editorial board of Nino Abate, G. Senigaglia, Antonio Morosi and Samuel underwent numerous changes and additions of members of the Italian musicological community: Arnaldo Bonaventura (1862–1952), Guido Gasperini (1865–1942), Abate, Gasperini, Durante Duranti, Alfonso Falconi and Gino Modona as assistant editors; Paolo Bertini and Ildebrando Pizzetti. In January 1911 the board appointed Luigi Parigi (1883-1955) as Secretary to the Editor. From February to December 1917 Parigi was the sole editor; from 1918 to the final issue this position was assumed by Del Valle de Paz.

A considerable number of NMU’s articles deal with various aspects of pianoforte playing: technique, interpretation, repertory, pedagogy, etc., reflecting director Del Valle de Paz’s professional activity as piano teacher. These articles feature comparisons of the pianistic schools of the Neapolitans Cesi and Rossomandi, the Bolognese Mugellini, the Florentine Buonamici, the Roman Sgambati. In addition to this particular aspect, NMU steadily maintains a major interest in documenting new music, by furnishing information on musical activities, and by publishing debates on cultural issues enlivened by such writers as Nino Abate, Ildebrando Pizzetti, Del Valle de Paz himself, Guido M. Gatti and Alfredo Casella.

The correspondence from Italy published in NMU provides information on the activities of the composer and performer Giuseppe Martucci, about the rapid rise of Arturo Toscanini to be the foremost conductor of the international symphonic repertory, on the operatic experiences of the music-poet Gabriele D’Annunzio, and on the appearance of younger composers such as Riccardo Zandonai, Gian Francesco Malipiero, Ottorino Respighi, Casella and Franco Alfano. The attention given by the periodical to foreign topics, after an initial negative attitude to things foreign, is reserved for the operas of Richard Strauss and for French music. Following Italy’s entry in the First World War, La Nuova musica is suspended for two months, but resumes publication as it “remains useful, notwithstanding the war, to enquire on artistic matters.” NMU ceases publication stressing the importance of Debussy’s piano music, and recognition of Arnold Schoenberg and his school in an article by the journal’s Viennese correspondent.