1687048A Dictionary of Music and Musicians — MilanCatherine Mary Phillimore


MILAN. A school of music was founded at Milan in 1483 by Lodovico Sforza, Duke of Milan. Some writers affirm that this was the first public school of music in Italy, but that of Bologna, founded in 1482 by Pope Nicholas V, preceded it by one year. Franchino Gafurio of Lodi was the first public professor of music in Milan. He was born at Lodi in 1451, and studied music at Mantua, Verona, Genoa and Naples. Driven from Naples by the inroads of the Turks, he returned to Lodi, where he gave instruction in music till summoned to Milan by Roberto Barni, canon of Lodi. In 1482 he was made chapelmaster of the cathedral, and public professor of music in that city. He continued there many years teaching and translating into Latin the ancient Greek writers on music. Among his works are:—1. Theoricum Opus harmonicas disciplines. (Milan, 1492, in fol.) 2. Practica Musicæ utriusque cantus. (Milan, 1496.) 3. De harmonica musicorum instrumentorum. (Milan, 1498.)

This last treatise gave rise to a fierce dispute, embraced by all the musicians of the day, between Gafurio and Spataro, the professor of the rival school at Bologna. To Spataro's attack, entitled 'Errori di Franchino Gafurio,' etc., Gafurio replied in his 'Apologia Franchini Gafurii Musici ad versus Joannem Spatarium et complices Bononiensis.' The school of music was for the time overthrown in Milan by the fall of Lodovico Sforza, and Franchino Gafurio retired to Padua, where he became a professor of astrology. He died at the age of 71.

Burney, in his History of Music (vol. iii. p. 153), speaks in the highest terms of Gafurio: 'It was at Milan,' he says, 'that Gafurio composed and polished most of his works; that he was caressed by the first persons of his time for rank and learning; and that he read Lectures by public authority to crowded audiences, for which he had a faculty granted him by the Archbishop and chief magistrates of the city in 1483, which exalted him far above all his cotemporary brethren: and how much he improved the science by his instructions, his lectures and his writings, was testified by the approbation of the whole city; to which may be added the many disciples he formed, and the almost infinite number of volumes he wrote, among which several will live as long as music and the Latin tongue are understood.'

Costanzo Porta, the pupil of Willaert, Zarlino, Caimo, Gastoldi Biffi, and others, were also eminent composers in the old Lombard school of music, but Claude Monteverde (born at Cremona 1570) was the first to found a new epoch in this school, and to make it one of the richest and most powerful in Italy. He first attracted the notice of the Duke of Mantua by his performance on the Tenor Viola; and by his direction, and applying himself to the study of composition under Ingegnere, the Maestro di Capella of that Court, he became a considerable composer for the Church. The result of his studies appears in some valuable innovations in the old rules of counterpoint, which, although they excited much cavil and discussion at the time, were soon adopted not only by dilettanti but professors.

Besides making these important discoveries, lie is considered to be one of the first inventors of recitative in the Musical Drama. Orazio Vecchi, born about 1550, was another writer of operatic music of the Lombard school. His opera of 'L' Amfi Parnaso,' was one of the earliest operatic representations. These and many other writers of dramatic music were formed in the Lombard school, which was also illustrated by composers for the Church, such as Viadana, Noscimbeni, Simpliciano Olivo, Giuseppe Vignati, Antonio Rosetti, Gio. Andrea Fioroni, etc., etc.

In the first part of the 18th century the famous school of singing of Giuseppe Ferdinando Brivio flourished at Milan, but there does not seem to have been any special 'Accademia' or Conservatorio for public musical instruction till the year 1807, when, by a decree of Napoleon Buonaparte, the present Royal Conservatorio of Milan was established.

By order of the viceroy, Eugène Beauharnais, the building annexed to the church of Santa Maria della Passione, formerly a convent, was set apart for the new musical institute. It was opened on September 8, 1808, and formally inaugurated by the Marquis de Brème, minister of the interior; and it was to be modelled on the pattern of the old Conservatorios of Naples.

The first president of the Conservatorio was Bonifazio Asioli, chosen by the celebrated Gian Simone Mayr, who traced out the rules for the new institution; and the first professors of the various branches of musical instruction were Federigi, Secchi, Ray, Piantanida, Negri, Rolla, Sturioni, Andredi, Adami, Belloli, Buccinelli. In 1814, on account of the large increase of pupils, two extra professors were nominated. During the years 1848 and 1849, when the Austrians were in Milan, the Conservatorio was also occupied by their troops, but the musical instruction of the pupils was carried on in the private houses of the professors. In 1850 the Conservatorio was reopened under the presidency of Lauro Rossi on a larger scale, with a considerable change in its form of government, and fresh provision was made for instruction in the organ, the harp, the history and philosophy of music. In 1858 a school of instruction in singing for the performers at the royal theatres was likewise added.

An Academical Council was instituted in 1864, to determine what prizes should be distributed to the pupils, and every year those who distinguish themselves most at the yearly examinations receive a monthly pension arising out of the endowment of the Institution. In this same year the 'Società del Quartetto' was formed, of which many of the most notable musicians of the present day are honorary members. Every year this society causes six or eight concerts of classical music to be performed, and offers a prize for the best musical composition on a given subject. The 'Scuole popolari' for the lower classes of the people, at the cost of the State, are also offshoots of the great Milanese Conservatorio.

The programme of musical instruction in the Royal Conservatorio, as translated from the report of January 1873, of the president, Signor Lodovico Melzi, comprehends two kinds of instruction in music, artistic and literary, and these may again be subdivided into a preliminary and a superior course of instruction in either of these two branches.

The Conservatorio professes to give a complete musical and a fair literary education. The musical instruction is directed by 29 Professors, and by about 30 Teachers selected from the best pupils of both sexes. For the literary branch there are 7 Professors. There are two other Professors, one for deportment, pantomine, and ballet, the other for drill.

Each pupil previous to admission must pass through a preliminary examination to see if he has any capacity for the branch of musical instruction he intends to pursue. This examination when passed only gives the pupil a right to enter the Conservatorio probationary for a year, and not till he has passed the second examination at the end of the probationary year is he admitted as a pupil. On admission he pays an entrance fee of 20 lire, and every year, until his studies are completed, he pays to the Institute 5 lire monthly, with the exception of the months of September and October.

Nine years are allowed to each pupil for study in composition, and for attaining proficiency in stringed instruments, ten years for wind instruments, eleven years for instruction in singing.

Since its foundation, to the date above named, the Conservatorio had instructed 1627 pupils, of whom 124 finished their course in 1872.