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Rivista musicale italiana

(Turin; Milan, 1894–1932, 1936–1943, 1946–1955)

Prepared by Elvidio Surian

The quarterly Rivista musicale italiana [RMI] was published in Turin from 1894 to 1932 and in Milan from 1936 to 1951 by Giuseppe Bocca, an amateur violinist, and by Luigi Ronga in Rome from 1954 to 1955. Luigi Torchi, one of the leading figures in the nascent Italian musicology, assisted Bocca in editing the periodical from its outset until 1904. From 1936 to 1943, Bocca was assisted by the Milanese music critic Luigi Rognoni, who was succeeded in this task in 1951-1953 by Carlo Torreano. Publication was suspended from 1933 to 1935 owing to the publisher’s financial problems, and was interrupted once again from 1943 to 1945 during World War II. From 1894 to 1914, each continuously paginated yearly volume contains an average of 800 to 1,000 pages; from 1915 to 1939, 500 to 700 pages; and from 1940 to 1954, 300 to 500 pages.

The journal’s structure is systematically ordered throughout its run in six main sections: (1) “Memorie” consists of musicological studies based on documentary sources; (2) “Arte contemporanea” [Contemporary art] features critical essays dealing with a variety of contemporary music topics; (3) “Recensioni” [Reviews], are arranged in various sections: books on history, biographies, sacred music, the theory of music, scientific research, aesthetics, music criticism, pedagogy, legislation, musical editions and writings on Wagner. (4) “Spoglio dei periodici” [Selection of periodicals] lists articles selected from Italian and foreign periodicals; (5) “Notizie” or “Vita musicale” [Musical life] offers notices on the various musical activities of theaters, concert associations, music institutes, new operatic works, musical competitions, and obituaries; and (6) “Elenco dei libri” and “Elenco della musica” [Lists of books and Lists of music] citing authors, composers, titles, and publishers.

RMI devotes a significant amount of attention to the advancement of musicological studies in Italy, and assembles as collaborators first-rate young Italian musicologists and historians, who base their contributions not on subjective impressions but rather on primary source materials. Furthermore, the periodical attracts the collaboration of qualified foreign scholars, especially from Germany and France. The editors of RMI strive to promote erudite studies based on the new historical methodology, namely, the philological analysis of documents.

Among the erudite scholars who contribute initially to RMI are Romualdo Giani (1868-1931), who signs his polemical articles with the pseudonym Luigi Pagano, and who is decidedly critical of the idealistic philosophy of Benedetto Croce. Other scholars include Dino Sincero (1872-1923), Carlo Perinello (1877-1942), Giovanni Tebaldini (1864-1952), Nicola D’Arienzo (1842-1915), Luigi Torri (1863-1932), Alberto Gentili (1873-1954), and Luigi Torchi (1858-1920). A convinced Wagnerian, Torchi devotes himself to the dissemination of Wagner’s critical writings and introduces the periodical to heated debates on aesthetic issues, while maintaining an interest in the rediscovery of the Italian instrumental music tradition. From 1907 to 1919 Fausto Torrefranca (1863-1955) contributes uninterruptedly to the periodical and subsequently exerts a notable influence on Italian musicology. In the first twelve years of publication, a number of qualified and experienced foreign scholars contribute major articles to the Rivista musicle italiana: Salomon Jadassohn (1831-1902), Arthur Pougin (1834-1921), Franz Xavier Haberl (1840-1910), Guido Adler (1855-1941), Julien Tiersot (1857-1936), Jules Combarieu (1859-1916), Adolf Sandberger (1864-1943), and Jacques-Gabriel Prod’homme (1871-1956).

Between 1907 and 1918 the periodical’s prevailing positivistic position is tempered and some space is assigned to essays following Croce’s aesthetics, and to a disengagement from German aesthetics and methodology. Contributions by young musicologists at the outset of their careers begin to appear, among them Guido Pannain (1891-1977) from 1914; Andrea Della Corte (1883-1968) from 1915; and Guido M. Gatti (1892-1973) from 1919. Between 1925 and 1930 RMI is characterized to some extent by a biting and sharp criticism of Croce’s aesthetic writings, which are ironically termed “Vangelo” [Gospel] and “Breviario” [Breviary], while the periodical also gives voice to critics and musicologists, such as Pannain, who opposes positivistic methodology.

From 1928 to 1932 the articles and reviews of Filippo Brusa and Ettore Desderi play an important role in determining the position that the periodical follows with regard to contemporary music. Desderi deals with the new tendencies of contemporary music, various compositional characteristics─such as form, rhythm, orchestration, the use of the choir─and proposes the use of Palestrina’s sacred polyphony in contemporary music.

From 1936 to 1943 RMI continues to publish erudite musicological and historical studies, including a debate on Croce’s aesthetics in a review-article by Antonio Banfi, a Marxist oriented philosopher. Banfi’s essay focuses on the numerous contradictions inherent in the musical aesthetic of Alfredo Parente (1905-1985), a devoted follower of Croce and author of the volume La musica e le arti (1936). Banfi’s contributions however did not attract a following, and the debate on music aesthetics was not resumed. At this time, RMI concentrates its attention mainly on problems concerning contemporary music and music instruction; on notices about operatic and concert activities; on premières of new works performed in Italy and abroad, with reports from correspondents in Milan, Rome, Naples, Genoa, Florence, Paris, and Venice (including the city’s contemporary music festival). A new rubric is also introduced in 1936, “Musica incisa” [Recorded music], containing reviews of recordings, including jazz, which for the most part are signed by either Rognoni or Bocca. Another new rubric, Nuove incisioni” [New Recordings], lists the principal new recordings.

The periodical maintains a traditional structure and its predominately musicological orientation from 1946 to 1955. Among the scholars who contribute historical essays are Robert Aloys Mooser (1876-1969), Sebastiano Luciani (1884-1950), Benvenuto Disertori (1887-1969), Nino Pirrotta (1908-1998), Remo Giazotto (1910-1998), and Claudio Sartori (1913-1994). Essays of music criticism are mainly by Desderi, Guglielmo Barblan (1906-1978) from 1946 to 1949, by Della Corte in 1951, and by Luciano Tomelleri (1913) in 1953.