The School of Music G.B. Martini Today a Music Conservatory

by Maria Chiara Mazzi

European stage for an extraordinary musical adventure.

In our journey into Bologna's historical music institutions, we have arrived, in a rigorous order of appearance, at the Music Conservatory G.B. Martini. The story we should be recounting, but there is not enough space here, is long and complex, and closely linked to the city, as probably no other Bolognese musical institutions. Until the late eighteenth century, in fact, academies and religious institutions (convents and orphanages) were almost exclusively in charge of the musical education in Italy. Children who had learned music either remained in the fold or began their career in the world of music as composers or singers. In 1796, the French, who had decided to abolish religious orders and convents, marked the disappearance of these venues dedicated to musical education, promoting, in many cities, the first secular music institutions such as Bologna's School of Music.
Let us be clear: the French did not decide in 1806 to found this two hundred years old institution; noble men of culture in Bologna, headed by Giovanni Aldini, decided not to disperse the impressive heritage of material from the San Petronio basilica and other smaller ecclesiastic chapels, the library, and Father Martini's iconographic collection, and to bring together the teaching experience of those who worked in these institutions.

Picture of a painting by Farinello in the Sala Bossi of the G.B. Martini Conservatory in Bologna

Its birth represented, together with schools in Milan, Turin, Florence and Pesaro, though in different periods, one of the first public community schools of music. It has had great success since its beginning and between 1839 and 1848, years in which Rossini was director, reaching international levels for the presence of important teachers and for the performance, for the first time in Italy, of instrumental and choral works of Viennese classics. In 1856, Gaetano Gaspari began the monumental work of organizing the library, and in 1881 new initiatives took place, linked to the Community Theater (topographically close and another music branch of the city) of which the School often had in common the artistic guidance.

An important music director, Luigi Mancinelli, brought to Bologna the European symphonic repertoire, and, keeping a focus on instrumental music, were created the Quartet Society in 1879, the Wagner Society in 1887 and the Choral Society G. B. Martini in 1902, demonstrating that the School was not only that but also a venue for the dissemination in the city of less usual repertoires to the Italian public. We will want to remember two important dates at the end of this journey which has transformed Bologna's Conservatory, like the others, in Superior Institute of Music Studies of the University: In 1925 the School was named after Martini and in 1942, the State began administering it.

Painting of the blazon of the Philharmonic near Bologna's G.B. Martini's Conservatory