New perspectives on the Italian instrumental music renaissance over the long nineteenth century

Nardacci, F. (2024) New perspectives on the Italian instrumental music renaissance over the long nineteenth century. Doctoral thesis, Royal College of Music.


This commentary presents my submitted publications contextualised in a broader study on the resurgence of Italian instrumental music during the ‘long nineteenth century’. By exploring the socio-political and economic status of the country over the century, my research acknowledges the pivotal role played by the Risorgimento process in shaping the development of a modern Italian musical culture. The research draws upon previously unexamined primary sources, including letters, concert programs, reviews, and a wide range of secondary literature. The commentary begins with a broad introduction examining the historical background, aiming to demonstrate the intrinsic connection between the development of an instrumental musical culture in Italy and the corresponding intellectual and cultural advancements. The commentary then consolidates and develops the research presented in the publications to offer an analysis of prominent Italian cities (Rome, Naples, Bologna, Turin, Milan, and Florence) and their distinctive characteristics. I unveil the diverse responses of each centre (and therefore of different areas of the country) to the challenges posed by the prevailing influence of opera and the political and economic circumstances that allowed the resurgence of instrumental music. I highlight the establishment of pioneering concert and quartet societies in these locations, which served as catalysts for the flourishing of Italian instrumental music. Furthermore, I demonstrate how the reform of school education and conservatories played a crucial role in empowering a new generation of Italian musicians to reclaim and excel in this genre. I throw new light upon those notable Italian composers, particularly Giuseppe Martucci, who played a crucial role in establishing a new and distinct ‘non-operatic’ image within Italian music culture, with a consequent impact in shaping the perception and reception of Italian music on an international scale. The outcomes of this research establish a groundwork for future investigation aimed at offering a more comprehensive overview of instrumental music culture across the Italian peninsula.

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