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Cristina Cimagalli
Utopia di un’università musicale.
Storia dei progetti per un livello superiore degli studi musicali dall’Unità d’Italia al secondo dopoguerra (1861-1948)
(Essays, 11)

XX, 472 pp.; 21 x 14,8 cm

IThis volume traces the history of the countless projects conceived in unified Italy to raise music studies to the university level. A huge river of proposals more or less impetuously flows through these pages, over a period almost exactly matching that of the Kingdom of Italy from its birth (1861) to its demise after the Second World War. Some proposals were naïve, some shrewd; some sketchy, some detailed; some confusing, some advanced. The Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome plays a major role in this plot; sole among its competitors, it was to put into practice such a lofty dream, at least in part. Putting all this and “utopia” in the same sentence may sound strange, even provocative. The envisaged conservatory-university parity always faced many, perhaps inescapable, conflicts. Firstly, musical training is supposed to absorb students since childhood, keeping them busy with daily calisthenics, against the need for broader culture university-level instruction is meant for. Secondly, Italian politicians have long been reluctant to invest both money and ideas in a radical rethinking of music education. Moreover, music was once known and practiced among ruling classes; now (at least in its classical side) it has almost entirely fallen out of their cultural baggage. However, now we should have achieved that goal, at least in theory—Bill 508/1999 placed conservatories inside higher education, alongside universities. Yet, the Conclusion section highlights the shortcomings of today’s unsatisfactory situation. Hopefully, this book should offer not only a broader knowledge of Italy’s music history but also food for thought to those who, someday, are to reform music studies in Italy—in the hope that this is no utopia.

Cristina Cimagalli was born in Rome, where she completed both classic high school and music studies at the Santa Cecilia Conservatory, graduating in musicology, conducting, and piano. Her research focuses on reconstructing little-known aspects of the 19th- and early 20th-century Italian musical environment. These have been published in major Italian and international journals, as well as in collective books. Together with Mario Carrozzo, she authored a three-volume History of Western Music adopted in many conservatories and universities. She also edited Giorgio Battistelli’s catalog of works (Ricordi). She has been active as a composer, conductor, and pianist in various Italian and foreign cities. As a pianist, she has been working for years with Musica d’Oggi Ensemble and RAI Symphony Orchestra, Rome. She devoted herself to modern music, giving many premières as a conductor or as a pianist. She took part in theatrical works staged by the Festival dei Due Mondi, Spoleto, the Teatro Eliseo and Teatro Argentina, Rome, the Todi Festival, etc., either as a composer of incidental music or as a consultant. In 1993 she came up among the winners of the public competition to teach Music History in Italian conservatories. Her current position is at the Santa Cecilia Conservatory, Rome.

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