Follow the link for more notes D’Ethnographie Musicale (Classic Reprint) PDF. The music of Italy has traditionally been one of the cultural markers of Italian national and ethnic identity and holds an important position in society and in politics.
Italian folk music is an important part of the country’s musical heritage, and spans a diverse array of regional styles, instruments and dances. Instrumental and vocal classical music is an iconic part of Italian identity, spanning experimental art music and international fusions to symphonic music and opera. Italian music has been held up in high esteem in history and many pieces of Italian music are considered high art. More than other elements of Italian culture, music is generally eclectic, but unique from other nations’ music. Italy has a strong sense of national identity through distinctive culture – a sense of an appreciation of beauty and emotionality, which is strongly evidenced in the music. Cultural, political and social issues are often also expressed through music in Italy. Allegiance to music is integrally woven into the social identity of Italians but no single style has been considered a characteristic « national style ».
Most folk music is localized, and unique to a small region or city. With the growing industrialization that accelerated during the 20th and 21st century, Italian society gradually moved from an agricultural base to an urban and industrial center. European countries, but unlike them, Italy had no major initiative to preserve traditional musics. Immigration from North Africa, Asia, and other European countries led to further diversification of Italian music. Music and politics have been intertwined for centuries in Italy.
Music also played a role in the unification of the peninsula. During this period, some leaders attempted to use music to forge a unifying cultural identity. One example is the chorus « Va, pensiero » from Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Nabucco. Later, in the Fascist era of the 1920s and 30s, government censorship and interference with music occurred, though not on a systematic basis. Prominent examples include the notorious anti-modernist manifesto of 1932 and Mussolini’s banning of G. Malipiero’s opera La favola del figlio cambiato after one performance in 1934. More recently, in the later part of the 20th century, especially in the 1970s and beyond, music became further enmeshed in Italian politics.
A roots revival stimulated interest in folk traditions, led by writers, collectors and traditional performers. A 1907 recording with Enrico Caruso as Rodolfo and Antonio Scotti as Marcello of « O Mimì, tu più non torni » from Act IV of Giacomo Puccini’s La bohème. Italy has long been a center for European classical music, and by the beginning of the 20th century, Italian classical music had forged a distinct national sound that was decidedly Romantic and melodic. European classical music changed greatly in the 20th century. Opera originated in Italy in the late 16th century during the time of the Florentine Camerata. After World War I, however, opera declined in comparison to the popular heights of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Causes included the general cultural shift away from Romanticism and the rise of the cinema, which became a major source of entertainment.
A third cause is the fact that « internationalism » had brought contemporary Italian opera to a state where it was no longer « Italian ». Italy, being one of Catholicism’s seminal nations, has a long history of music for the Roman Catholic Church. The dominance of opera in Italian music tends to overshadow the important area of instrumental music. Italian contributions to ballet are less known and appreciated than in other areas of classical music. Italy, particularly Milan, was a center of court ballet as early as the 15th century, which was influenced by the entertainments common in royal celebrations and aristocratic weddings. Currently, major Italian opera theaters maintain ballet companies.
They exist to provide incidental and ceremonial dancing in many operas, such as Aida or La Traviata. These dance companies usually maintain a separate ballet season and perform the standard repertoire of classical ballet, little of which is Italian. Experimental music music is a broad, loosely defined field encompassing musics created by abandoning traditional classical concepts of melody and harmony, and by using the new technology of electronics to create hitherto impossible sounds. In the 1950s, Luciano Berio experimented with instruments accompanied by electronic sounds on tape.