The art and science square: Piazza S. Marco in Florence – Pioneers and educational institutions in 19th-century Florence

Federica Riva, Italy

Autori: Annamaria Tammaro (Università degli studi, Parma) / Federica Riva (Conservatorio di musica L. Cherubini, Firenze)

Our story is focused on the evolution of institutions of arts education, which emerged during the first Italian state (1860-1870), including the period (1865-1870) when Florence was the capital of the Regno d’Italia, established in 1860.

This modular project includes a multimedia ad hoc library and digital 3D reconstructions related to three locations in the piazza S. Marco: the seats of the Accademia di Belle Arti at the Ospedale di San Matteo, the Istituto di Studii Superiori Pratici e di Perfezionamento (since 1923 Università degli studi), and the Regio Istituto musicale di Firenze independent since 1862 (now Conservatorio di musica ‘L. Cherubini’) along with the reconstructions of their present and historic activities: teaching, concerts and exhibitions. The project will explore the intersections between performing arts and their social context as well as provide a comparison of musical life at the time in Florence and New York.

The aim of the project is to compare the role and power of music between the current trends and the nineteenth century, in order to make music students and audience aware of their identity. The relationship between society and music will be demonstrated through the activities of some well-known personalities active in the city as the organizers and disseminators of culture. The physician and psychologist Paolo Mantegazza (1831-1910), the first Italian chair of anthropology at the Istituto di Studii Superiori Pratici e di Perfezionamento, founded in 1869 the Museo nazionale di antropologia ed etnologia. His memories, spanning from January 1848 to the end of his life, books and letters are preserved at this institution. Luigi Ferdinando Casamorata (1807-1881).and Abramo Basevi (1818-1885) shaped the Florentine musical life through the idea that the aim of highest culture is to serve the educational environment for the young generations.

We will demonstrate how the same idea of cultural dissemination took on different forms with the founding of the key Florentine music institutions: (1) the Regio Istituto musicale di Firenze; (2) the Società del quartetto, the first one in Italy, which revived chamber music in Florence; (3) the periodicals Rivista musicale di Firenze and Boccherini, with their chronicles and reviews of musical events; (4) the invention of a new book format—the pocket score—published by Giovan Gualberto Guidi which allowed audience to follow concerts in the score; and (5) the Accademia del Regio Istituto musicale di Firenze, which motivated musicians to discuss the theoretical implications of their practical artistic activity through developments of music theory and practice typical of the nineteenth century.

Due to the activities of these institutions music education in Florence was completely different from that in other Italian cities. For example, music was taught in Naples at the four world-wide famous conservatories of music mainly to poor students and orphans as a medium for their survival. While musicians from Naples migrated to all of Europe since the eighteenth century forming the core of concert and opera performers, music evolved in Florence as a combination with other aspects of culture, developing a special relationship between music and literature, music and the arts, music and psychology, music and informatics. This story is relevant not only for the twenty-first-century students coming to Florence for studying music but also to people interested in music all around the world, and particularly those interested in the social sciences.

Sources and documents of these activities are preserved mainly in the Conservatory library where they have arrived through the Basevi and Casamorata donations.

Cooperating institutions and scholars are: Casa della memoria Piero Bargellini (Gregorio Nardi, pianist), Gabriele Rossi Rognoni (former curator of the Galleria dell’Accademia – Collezione di strumenti musicali del Conservatorio Luigi Cherubini), Luca Scarlini (storyteller), John Graziano (Brook center at the CUNY Graduate center, New York).

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