A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Bologna

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1502899A Dictionary of Music and Musicians — BolognaCatherine Mary Phillimore

BOLOGNA. The first school for instruction in music in Italy was founded at Bologna in 1482 by Pope Nicholas V., when Bartolommeo Ramis Pereja, a Spaniard, was summoned from Salamanca to preside over it. Spataro (so called because he was by trade a maker of scabbards), one of the early Italian writers on music in the 15th century, was a disciple of Pereja.

In the 16th and 17th centuries Bologna had as many as thirty academies for the promotion of various sciences and arts. Four out of this number were musical, not including that of the 'Gelati' (founded 1588) which comprehended every science and art, and flourished throughout the 16th century. One of its members, Girolamo Desideri, wrote a valuable treatise on music. The four are as follows:—

  1. 'Dei Concordi,' founded in 1615. The arms chosen by this institution were—three timepieces, a clock, an hour glass, and a dial. The motto—'Tendimus una.'
  2. 'Dei Filomusi,' founded in 1622 by Girolamo Giacobbi, a learned classical composer of the Bolognese school and 'Maestro di Capella' of San Petronio. This academy was entirely devoted to the study of musical science. Device—a bush of reeds, with the motto 'Vocis dulcedine captant.'
  3. 'Dei Filaschici,' opened in 1633. Device—David's harp; motto—'Orbem demulcet attactu.' The object of this institution was to inquire into the science of sound.
  4. 'Dei Filarmonici,' instituted in 1675 by Vincenzo Carrati entirely for music. Burney, in his 'Tour' of 1773 (p. 230), speaks of this academy as still in existence. He was present at a kind of trial of skill amongst the academicians which took place annually in the church of San Giovanni in Monte. The members of this society each composed portions of the service, and Burney, whose opinion of the performance was asked, praises highly the variety of style and masterly compositions of the members. 'At this performance,' he says, 'were present Mr. Mozart and his son, the little German whose premature and almost supernatural talents so much astonished us in London a few years ago when he had scarce quitted his infant state. He has been much admired at Rome and Naples, and has been honoured with the order of the Speron d'Oro by His Holiness, and was engaged to compose an opera at Milan for the next carnival.'

Orlov (Traité de Musique,' 1822), speaks of the performance of the sixteen hundred members of the philharmonic society at Bologna, in the cathedral of San Petronio, to celebrate the festival of the patron saint. But there is no mention of this society in the report of 1866 as to the state of musical education in Italy.

In the 16th century there were but few practical musicians of the Bolognese school, though in the next, owing to these musical academies, the masters of the cathedral of San Petronio and other professors of the city were equal to those of the first class in any other part of Europe.

The result of these societies also appears in the series of musical dramas performed in Bologna since the year 1600. There seems to have been no public theatre in this city till 1680, when four operas were performed there 'nel Teatro Publico.' After this the music, which had previously been written by Venetian masters was supplied by members of the Bolognese academies. Among these were Petronio Franceschelli, who set the prologue to the opera of 'Caligula'; Giuseppe Felice Tosi, who composed ten operas between the years 1679 and 1691; Giacomo Antonio Perti, a composer of church music, but also employed in operas for Bologna and Venice; Giovanni Paolo Colonna, Maestro di Cappella di San Petronio; Aldobrandini Albergati; Pistocchi, who founded a famous Bolognese school of singing; and the renowned Padre Martini.

The above list of names contains only a few of the famous composers and practical musicians which were formed in the great Bolognese school.