The City of Music: Modena

by Maria ChiaraMazzi

Old places and extraordinary instruments in the capital of the ancient duchy.


The actual wealth of music productions and proposals of the city and province of Modena is the heritage of the musical variety that has always distinguished the capital of the ancient duchy. The presence of musical choirs (rich with composers, singers and instrumentalists) since the medieval times in the many churches of the city are at the roots of so much sacred and organ music reviews. In Dome, a centuries-old musical basilica provides music for church services, and organizes as well a respected organ music festival and vocal music events from October to May. Also, the Bach Association has been organizing since 1995 the MOF (Modena Organ Festival) on the numerous ancient instruments of the city, and Armonieframusica e architettura (Harmony Between Music and Architecture), which each year proposes about thirty concerts in cities located on the mountain and in the plains, representing opportunities to discover the extraordinary churches of the area and to listen to ancient instruments which function thanks to restoration financed by public institutions and bank foundations, in distant and evocative venues. The Modena music history is also linked to the Associazione Musicale Estense (Musical Association of Este) associated to the Réseaueuropéen de musiqueancienne whose festival Greatnesses and Wonders stems from the desire to shed light on the extraordinary musical heritage in 1998-99 as part of the celebrations for the 4th century of the transfer of capital of the duchy of Este from Ferrara to Modena.

Foto - Teatro Comunale di Modena

Foto - Duomo di Modena

The festival which involves also the province and is active as well in promotion, research, publication and training activities, is organized each year between October and December, and draws from the very rich musical sections of the Library of Este allowing us to rediscover the extraordinary musical wealth of Modena in the baroque era. Also extraordinary is the quantity and quality of chamber concerts which also have ancient roots in the philharmonic and concert societies already present in Modena at the end of the nineteenth century. We point out the Association of Friends of Music, celebrating this year its 90th birthday, thanks to which in Modena came the best in history of music performance (from Toscanini to Rubinstein, from Landowska to Cortot, from Serkin to Backhaus, not to forget anyone). Its programming places side by side the city and the province and reaches schools to disseminate more and more the music culture. Last, but not least, the Community Theatre, now named after Luciano Pavarotti, is a foundation that brings to Modena the opera and ballet, great international symphonic orchestras and stars of World Music in the much followed review“The Other Sound”, and that organizes, together with the Military Academy at the same time each summer, the wonderful International Festival of Military Bands. Founded in 1841, heritage of the many theatres that since the seventeenth century presented opera in Modena, the Communalebreathes its love of the Po for music in general and for opera in particular. Its programming is followed by thousands of enthusiasts from not only the city, but also from the towns of the province, proof of inquisitiveness and passion that in only a few other cases crosses the barriers of class and gender.