1501339A Dictionary of Music and Musicians — AccademiaCatherine Mary Phillimore

ACCADEMIA, an institution which flourished all over Italy in the 16th and 17th centuries, and, speaking generally, was founded for promoting the progress of science, literature, and art. Il Quadrio ('Storia e Ragione,' i. 48-112) gives an account of all the Italian academies from the earliest times, and the mere alphabetical list would fill several pages. Even from his voluminous work but little beyond the names and mottoes of these institutions, the dates of their foundation, and their general objects can be ascertained. A detailed history of their endowments and separate objects would require an examination into the archives of each particular city, and it is doubtful whether such an examination would supply full information or repay it when supplied. Nor is it an easy task to separate those institutions which had music for their especial object.

The 'Accademie,' even those especially devoted to music, do not come under the same category as the Conservatorios. The latter were schools founded and endowed for the sole purpose of giving instruction in music. The Academies were either public institutions maintained by the state, or private societies founded by individuals to further the general movement in favour of science, literature, and the fine arts. This they did in various ways, either by public instructions and criticisms, facilitating the printing of standard works on music, illustrating them with fresh notes, or by composing new ones; and every week the Academicians would assemble to compare their studies and show proofs of their industry. The study of one science or art would often help to illustrate the other. By the end of the 16th century poetry had become so closely allied to music in the drama that an academy could hardly have one of these arts for its object without including the others also, while many, like the 'Alterati' at Florence, the 'Intrepidi' at Ferrara, the 'Intronati' and the 'Rozzi' at Siena, devoted their energies to promoting the successful combination of the two arts in theatrical representation.

As far as regards science, the study of mathematical proportions was found to throw light upon the theory and the practice of music, when the Greek writers upon music came to be translated and studied in Italy in the 16th and 17th centuries. Take for example the mathematical demonstrations of Galileo in his 'Trattato del Suon.' the writings of the great Florentine theorist, Giambattista Doni (a member of the literary academy 'Delia Crusca'), and Tartini's 'Trattato di Musica.' From the 15th to the 18th century the passion for academical institutions was so vehement in Italy that there was scarcely a town which could not boast at least one, while the larger cities contained several. At first they went by the name of their founder, as that of 'Pomponio Leto' at Rome, or 'Del Pontano' at Naples. But as they increased and multiplied this did not suffice, and each chose a special name either with reference to its particular object or from mere caprice. Hence arose a number of elaborate designations indicative either of praise or blame, 'Degli Infiammati,' 'Dei Solleciti,' 'Degl' Intrepidi,' etc. Each of these societies had moreover a device bearing a metaphorical relation to its name and object. These were looked upon as important, and were as highly esteemed as the crests and coats of arms of the old nobility.

Selecting, as far as possible, the academies which had the cultivation of music for their special object, we find that the earliest in Italy were those of Bologna and Milan, founded, the former in 1482, the latter in 1484. In the 16th and 17th centuries Bologna had no less than six [App. p.517 "five"] societies for public instruction in music, Cesena and Ferrara one each, Florence five, Padua and Salerno one each, Siena four, entirely for musical dramatic representations, Verona one, founded by Alberto Lavezzola—a combination of two rival institutions which in 1543 became united—Vicenza two, also founded entirely for musical representation.

At this period there appear to have been no particular academy for music either at Milan, Rome, Naples, or Venice, though the science was probably included in the general studies of the various academies which flourished in those cities, while it could be specially and closely studied in the famous Neapolitan and Venetian Conservatorios (see Conservatorio) or under the great masters of the Pontifical and other Chapels at Rome.

The 'Accademie' were all more or less short-lived, and that of the 'Filarmonici' (at Bologna) is the only one which Burney ('Musical Tour,' 1773), mentions as still extant. According to the 'Report on Musical Education' of 1866, the only institutions for public and gratuitous instruction now existing in Italy are:—

(1) The Royal Musical Institute of Florence, founded 1860,
(2) The 'Reale Conservatorio di Musica' at Milan, founded by Napoleon, 1808, and still flourishing, according to the latest report of 1873.
(3) The Royal Neapolitan College, which has taken the place of her four Conservatorios.

It is difficult to determine how far the musical life of Italy was affected by these Accademie and Conservatorios; certainly the genius of Palestrina, Stradella, or Cherubini, can no more be attributed to them than that of Dante to the Schools; while the Accademia della Crusca might lacerate the heart of Tasso by picking to pieces a poem which not one of her Academicians could have produced. Yet, on the other hand, it may be urged that lovers of music owe much to such institutions when their members are capable of discerning the bright light of genius and cheering it during its existence, besides being ready to impart the information which is required for the general purposes of musical science. (See Bologna, Conservatorio, Ferrara, Florence, Lombardy, Milan, Naples, Padua, Rome, Salerno, Siena, Venice, Verona, Vicenza [App. p.517 "omit Lombardy, Salerno, Siena, Verona, and Vicenza"]).

The name 'Accademia' is, or was, also given in Italy to a private concert. Burney says in his 'Musical Tour': 'The first I went to was composed entirely of dilettanti. Il Padrone, or the master of the house, played the first violin, and had a very powerful band; there were twelve or fourteen performers, among whom were several good violins; there were likewise two German flutes, a violoncello, and small double bass; they executed, reasonably well, several of our [J.C.] Bach's symphonies, different from those printed in England: all the music here is in MS. … Upon the whole, this concert was much upon a level with our own private concerts among gentlemen in England.’ (‘Tour,’ ii. 94-95). From Italy the use of the word spread to Germany. ‘Besuche er mich nicht mehr,’ said Beethoven on a memorable occasion, ‘keine Akademie!’