Music in the
by Don Robertson
© 2005 by Rising
World Entertainment. All Rights Reserved
Facciata della Chiesa di San
Petronio nella Piazza grande di Bologna, incisione in
During the 17th century, the town of
Bologna in Italy was a very important musical center. This, however,
has largely gone unrecognized until very recently. In
fact, 20th Century musicologist Arnold Schering was the first
scholar outside of Bologna to recognize this fact. In his monumental work
Music in the Baroque Era, Manfred Bukofzer only devoted
four of the almost 500 pages of his book to Bologna, and these only to a coverage of instrumental
music, not including the magnificent choral creations that were composed and performed there. Still to
this day, Bologna has not been fully recognized as the important
music center that it once was and few musicians and
music lovers realize the important
music and the incredible composers who blossomed there during its musical heyday.
There were two
important music centers in Bologna: San Petronio, and the Accademia
Filarmonica. Founded in 1390, the basilica of San
Petronio was dedicated to a fifth-century bishop and it
ranks as one of the greatest medieval brick cathedrals in Italy. It
employed thirty-six musicians on a full-time basis during its heyday, and on special
occasions, hired as many as 153.
Accademia Filarmonica, or the
Philharmonic Academy of Bologna, was established in 1666 to
"form a long lasting unity dedicated to making beautiful
music" and continues to exist today.
There was an amazing number of
important composers associated with Bologna:
Giovanni Paolo Colonna (1637-95)
Giovanni Maria Bononcini (1642-1678)
Giovanni Bononcini (1670-1755)
Giovanni Battista Vitali (1644-1692)
Tommaso Antonio Vitali
Bartolomeo Laurenti (1644-1726)
Pietro degli Antonii (1468-1720)
Petronio Franceschini (1650-1681)
Domenico Gabrielli (1655-1690)
Giovanni Battista Bassani (1657-1716)
Giuseppe Maria Jacchini
Giuseppe Torelli (1658-1709)
Giacomo Antonio Perti (1661-1767)
Pirro Albergati (1663-1735)
Giuseppe Aldrobandini (1665-1707)
Evaristo Dall'Abaco (1675-1742)
Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713)
Giuseppe Matteo Alberti (1685-1751)
Cazzati was one of the
most prolific and famous musicians of the 17th Century, yet he,
along with the great music center of Bologna, are almost unknown today.
He was born in either Luzzare in 1616, or perhaps Guastalla in
1620...our sources differ. In 1657, he was appointed the maestro di
cappella for the San Petronio cathedral in Bologna. He published a
large amount of instrumental music that was known and performed in
places as far away as England. He resigned is position at San
Petronio after a
feud with academy president G.C. Arresti who had objected to
a Kyrie that Cazzati had composed, feeling that its music did
not conform with the rules that had been set by the theorists
(hey, our kind of guy). In 1671 Cazzati was appointed maestro of
both the chapel at Mantua and the chamber of the duchess Anna
Isabella. He died in Mantua in 1677.
The only recording that we have have any knowledge of is
a beautiful recording on the Italian Tactus label of a reconstructed vesper
service featuring his music:
Battista Vitali (1632?
Vitali was born in or near Bologna (or possibly Cremona) and studied under
came to be known as a composer of string music, especially the
trio sonata. In 1666 he was appointed sonatore di violone da
brazzo at San Petronio in Bologna and was a founding member of
the Bolognese Accademia Filarmonica. He left Bologna in
1674 to live at the Este court in Modena and in 1684 became the maestro
di capella at the ducal chapel. Some of his sacred music has
come down to us and a magnificent magnificat has been rendered
into modern notation.
At the time of this writing, we are still
waiting for recordings to become available of this composer.
Paolo Colonna (1637-1695)
Giovanni Paolo Colonna was a fantastic composer, organist, and
maestro di cappella at San Petronio, the great cathedral in Bologna.
He was born in Bologna, the son of an organ builder and went to Rome to study with Abbatini, Benevoli, and Carissimi.
returned to Bologna during 1659 to become organist under Cazatti.
He succeeded Cazzati in 1674 as the maestro
di cappella at San Petronio when
Vitali went to went to Modena. He wrote a number of
oratorios, but only six survive.
Not until the late 20th century was any
of his music even available in modern notation, and still (at the
time of this writing) only a few compositions have been made
available. Fortunately, the Italian label Tactus was far-sighted
in releasing two wonderful CD albums. It is time to
bring Colonna's wonderful music back to life.
Antonio Perti (1661-1756)
began his composing career in 1676 at age 15 and continued
composing to age 94 and the year of his death. In 1681 he was
admitted to the Accademia Filarmonica. In 1696 Perti succeeded
Giovanni Paolo Colonna as the maestro di cappella and
continued to serve there for 60 years. He taught Giuseppe
Torelli and Padre Martini and wrote 25 or 26 operas,
unfortunately now mostly lost. He also composed 20 oratorios, 28 mass settings,
a great deal of other sacred choral compositions:
lamentations, magnificats, and settings of the vesper psalms.
During Perti's time, the oratorio flourished in Bologna and the
venues for performance included chapels, churches, monasteries,
colleges, private palaces, concert halls, and the academies.
Oratorio "Gesł al Sepolcro"
Andrea Rota Missa Resurrectio Christi
Giuseppe Torelli was a composer and violinist who moved to
Bologna in the early 1680s and became a member of the Accademia
filarmonica. He studied with Perti and played viola at San
Petronio between 1686 and 1696. He became maestro di concerto
to the Margrave of Brandenburg at Ansbach in 1698. The following
year he was in Vienna. In 1701 he was back in Bologna at San
Petronio where he remained until his death. Because he contributed
so much to 18th century instrumental music, he is further covered in