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Italian Classical Music

Italy: cradle of Classical music


Partiture for Bach's Cello Suite no. 1, Prélude (Andreina Schoeberlein/flickr)


When we speak about classical music, we truly speak about centuries and centuries of western musical creation. The adjective is, by definition, associated to music rooted in the Western cultural heritage, and composed between the 11th and the 20th century. Both profane and sacred music composed and performed in this 1000-year long timespan can be considered "classical": from Gregorian chants, one of the earliest formal representation of prayer and music, to the operistic creations of Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini, all is to modern eyes classical music. 


However, the term "classical" had been used for the first time in this context only at the beginning of the 19th century to identify what was considered the golden age of music, that running between Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), one of the main representatives of the Baroque musical period, and Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), considered the main exponent of musical Romanticism. In between, of course, hugely known names of the history of music, such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Josef Haydn and George Freiderich Händel. 


Italy contributed largely to the development and establishment of what we today call "classical music." Anyone who studied basic musical theory, or simply loves this genre, is well aware of the fact  a great chunk of music terminology is in Italian and, when in another language, it derives directly from an original Italian word: this is a visible, almost tangible sign of the importance of Italy in the growth and diffusion of classical music. Still today, Italy – along with, of course, Germany, Austria and France –  is home to some of the most prestigious music schools and theatres in the world. 

But nothing marks the importance of Italy in the classical musical panorama more than, well, its music: Antonio Vivaldi, Niccolò Paganini, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (musical genius of the 16th century), Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, Arcangelo Corelli are only a few of the names who gifted Italy with its reputation of cradle of classical music. 


In this section, you will find information, anedoctes and stories about some of the most iconic and representative of all Italian classical composers. Get to know about their lives and creations, but also about the historical circumstances which influenced their production and their existence. 



Schedule for: 
Tuesday, June 23, 2015 - 12:00
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Top Opera Houses
Tuesday, August 30TH, 2016 by Glauco
From North to South, Italy is home to many incredible Opera Houses.    Teatro La Fenice in Venice   This theater, located in beautiful Venice, was built at the end of the 18th century and - as befits its name - was burned down and rebuilt... twice in the 19th century. Then, it was destroyed once again by fire in 1996. This event was front page news, and engendered a major international effort to rebuild. Many celebrities led such efforts: American filmmaker Woody Allen was one of the most active.   This new theater has been critici...
Ennio Morricone
Sunday, March 06TH, 2016 by FrancescaBezzone
Morricone with his Oscar on Monday night (Photo ANSA)   This week about to end was a good one for Italy. For once, we ended up on the news for something good, and not for the usual culprits: corruption, politics, sex scandals, Renzi, Berlusconi... This week, Italy is proud of her very own Ennio Morricone who, after decades composing some of the best known film scores of all times, has finally received his first Oscar. Ok, those among you more into cinema know that, technically, it was not the first, as he did received a honorary Oscar in 2007 for "his magni...
Friday, July 10TH, 2015 by admin
 Arcangelo Corelli   Arcangelo Corelli (wikimedia)   Italy has produced some of the finest artists, musicians, and composers of the Baroque period, an influence we still enjoy today. Arcangelo Corelli was a composer of rare genius and emotional insight, whose work altered the lives and direction of his peer composers, his students, and the style of music across Europe.   Arcangelo, meaning Arch Angel in Italian - quite the name to have to live up to - was born in Fusignano, Italy, in 1653. Fusignano is a small town noted for its rich, red Lambr...
Niccolò Paganini
Friday, June 26TH, 2015 by admin
    Niccolò Paganini was an Italian composer and virtuoso violinist who many still consider to be the greatest violinist that ever lived. His radical and brilliant innovations in violin technique are still heralded to this day; and his 24 Caprices are considered some of the most difficult music ever composed - only a handful of violinists at any period of time ever reach the heights of technique and musical ability required to play them. Although Paganini displayed a fearsome level of virtuosity that surpassed everyone else's, he didn't restrict himself to running f...
About a Violin
Monday, June 01TH, 2015 by admin
  A violin lab in Cremona (freemanphoto/flickr)   Just two fiddles in a case. That's how an old friend described the rare Cremonese violins he had just seen on their way from one recital to another. Together, they are worth in the low 8 figures, so I can't help wondering what their maker, Guarneri del Gesù, a solitary, ailing man who produced relatively few instruments, would have made of the market's enthusiasm for his work. It seems to me he might well have been astonished his violins survived at all, through the changes of musical taste and...
Monday, June 01TH, 2015 by admin
  Luciano Pavarotti in Saint Petersburg (   If you are not an opera buff and you are asked about opera singers, it is very likely your thoughts run to the  Three Tenors who, between 1990 and the mid 2000, managed to bring opera arias and themes into the homes of an enormous amount of people worldwide. They were Placido Domingo, José Carreras and, of course, the Italian Luciano Pavarotti.  Known for his powerful, moving tenor voice, Pavarotti enjoyed international fame and is considered by many as...
    Antonio Vivaldi   The composer and violinist  Antonio Vivaldi is mostly known for his beautiful Four Seasons, inspired by the scenery around Mantova. However, he was an extremely prolific composer and he led such an intriguing life even Hollywood produced a movie about it.    Born on the 4th of  March 1678, in the very cultured and musical city of Venice, young Antonio was quickly baptized on the very day of his birth, as he was considered frail and at risk of death. Health weakness was to be a c...
Albinoni - Italian Music
Monday, June 01TH, 2015 by admin
Italian Baroque Composers: Tomaso Albinoni   Venice had become the cultural and artistic pearl of Europe by the mid seventeenth century and was the birthplace of composer extraordinaire Tomaso Giovanni Albinoni. June 14th, 1671 marked the entry of young Tomaso into the world as the eldest son of a wealthy paper merchant.   Tomaso Albinoni   In stark contrast to other musicians of his era, Tomaso Albinoni did not pursue wealthy patrons to support the creation of his compositions, at least not until the death of his father in 1709. His father had...
Giuseppe Verdi
Monday, June 01TH, 2015 by admin
Giuseppe Verdi: The Swan of Busseto   Giuseppe Verdi   Born in the Duchy of Parma in Le Roncole, Verdi moved to Busseto in 1824 and began his musical career under the tutelage of Ferdinando Provesi. He composed an overture for Gioacchino Rossini's "II Barbiere di Siviglia" (The Barber of Seville) after which he moved to Milan. Unfortunately, Verdi was not accepted at the Milan Conservatorio (music school), so he studied privately under Vincenzo Lavigna. After marrying Lavigna's daughter, who he loved deeply, and completing his studies, he accept...