The Classical Viennese Piano School
Its reception in Milan and Northern Italy during the first half of the 19th century
«Schwerlich giebt es in Italien noch einen zweyten Ort, wo auf gute Musik von berühmten italienischen und deutschen Meistern so viele Rücksicht genommen wird als in diesem Hause, und Hr. Karl Mozart, welcher das Ganze leitet, macht sich dadurch sehr verdient». This quote by Peter Lichtenthal (1780–1853) describes the early 19th-century Milanese musical world through the eyes of its denizens, who heard the works of Classical German masters such as Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven regularly performed, including works for piano. Unfortunately, after two hundred years, this deep influence of the Viennese piano school on the Italian one has been obscured, in part by the slightly nationalist ideology that influenced Italian musicology after the Risorgimento era into the early 20th century. The prevailing attitude at this time refused everything that came from abroad or that did not belong to the vocal tradition, particularly the Italian one. As a consequence of this historiographical attitude, any possibility of connection between the late 18th-century Viennese and early 19th-century Italian keyboard traditions has been totally denied. Therefore it is now essential to reconsider those sources, to contextualize them in the proper historical background after nearly 150 years of wrong historical suppositions.
Course of action
Based on private teaching reports, concert’s reviews and correspondence between key figures in the musical world like Franz Sales Kandler, P. Lichtenthal, Francesco Pollini, Archduke Rudolph among others, the channels between Vienna and Milan that facilitated the spread of Viennese piano literature – and the marks they left on the style of early Italian piano composers – shall be explored. Furthermore the circumstances and contexts surrounding music-making at this time, exploring both public institutions, such as the Milan Conservatory, and the private salons of the rising middle class and aristocracy, such as the Belgiojoso, Borromeo, Sforza and Trivulzio families, among others shall be investigated.
The documents related will last but not least yield important new knowledge about how this repertory was performed according to the historical informed performance practice.