1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Conservatoire

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6047951911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 6 — Conservatoire

CONSERVATOIRE (the Fr. equivalent of Ital. Conservatorio, Ger. Conservatorium, from Med. Lat. conservatorium, a place where anything is preserved, Lat. conservare, to preserve), a public institution for instruction in music and declamation. The name Conservatoire is generally used not only of the French institutions to which it properly applies, but also of the Italian Conservatorio and the German Conservatorium, and even sometimes of English schools of music. In the United States, however, the anglicized form “Conservatory” is used, a form far more satisfactory from the point of view of linguistic purity, but difficult to establish in England owing to its common application to a particular kind of green-house (see Horticulture). The Italian conservatorios were the earliest, and originated in hospitals for the rearing of foundlings and orphans (whence the name) in which a musical education was given. When fully equipped, each conservatorio had two maestri or principals, one for composition and one for singing, besides professors for the various instruments. Though St Ambrose and Pope Leo I., in the 4th and 5th centuries respectively, are sometimes named in connexion with the subject, the historic continuity of the conservatoire in its modern sense cannot be traced farther back than the 16th century. The first to which a definite date can be assigned is the Conservatorio di Santa Maria di Loretto, at Naples, founded by Giovanni di Tappia in 1537. Three other similar schools were afterwards established in the city, of which the Conservatorio di Sant' Onofrio deserves special mention on account of the fame of its teachers, such as Alessandro Scarlatti, Leo, Durante and Porpora. There were thus for a considerable time four flourishing conservatorios in Naples. Two of them, however, ceased to exist in the course of the 18th century, and on the French occupation of the city the other two were united by Murat in a new institution under the title Real Collegio di Musica, which admitted pupils of both sexes, the earlier conservatorios having been exclusively for boys. In Venice, on the other hand, there were from an early date four conservatorios conducted on a similar plan to those in Naples, but exclusively for girls. These died out with the decay of the Venetian republic, and the centre of musical instruction for northern Italy was transferred to Milan, where a conservatorio on a large scale was established by Prince Eugene Beauharnais in 1808. The celebrated conservatoire of Paris owes its origin to the Ecole Royale de Chant et de Declamation, founded by Baron de Breteuil in 1784, for the purpose of training singers for the opera. Suspended during the stormy period of the Revolution, its place was taken by the Conservatoire de Musique, established in 1795 on the basis of a school for gratuitous instruction in military music, founded by the mayor of Paris in 1792. The plan and scale on which it was founded had to be modified more than once in succeeding years, but it continued to flourish, and in the interval between 1820 and 1840, under the direction of Cherubini, may be said to have led the van of musical progress in Europe. In more recent years that place of honour belongs decidedly to the Conservatorium at Leipzig, founded by Mendelssohn in 1843, which, for composition and instrumental music, became the chief resort of those who wished to rise to eminence in the art. Of other European conservatoires of the first rank may be named those of Prague, founded in 1810; of Brussels, founded in 1833 and long presided over by the celebrated Fétis; of Cologne, founded in 1849; and those instituted more recently at Munich and Berlin, the instrumental school in the latter long enjoying the direction of Joachim. In England the functions of a conservatoire have been discharged by the Royal Academy of Music of London, founded in 1822, which received a charter of incorporation in 1830, the Royal College of Music (1882), the Guildhall school, and similar institutions. The chief public institution for teaching music in the United States is the National Conservatory of Music of America, founded in New York in 1885. The famous Dvořák was for a time its director. Other well-known American establishments are the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore (1868), the Cincinnati College of Music (1878), and the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston (1867).