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08 Music associations of the Province at the end of the nineteenth century
“The Province of Brescia” of May, 23rd, 1889 published a letter for the director from an anonymous citizen of Brescia, obviously a great music lover. With the title of “Our music institutions”, the article opened with this beatiful sentence: “Few towns can compete with our great love of the art of music and its extended culture: few, actually it is probably not an exaggeration to say that in Italy there isn’t any other where so much is given to the development of this beautiful art, in all its forms”. As a matter of fact, the musical activities of the time were hectic: at the Teatro Grande, the “Fair Season” would see famous artists and large choirs holding the greatest operas of the time, among which Verdi’s works. For the artists it was current say that Teatro Grande was the step before being admitted to La Scala.Then there was the “Society of Concerts” who, starting from 1869 when it was founded, would be busy with the art of music in a series of concerts of chamber music which very almost always very successful (by 1889 the society had already held 119 concerts). The society could name, among its members, real world celebrities, who led to the fulfilment of the target expressed in the code of the association: “to promote the art and the pleasure of music, and the best production of the musical works…”. In 1887 the Art Circle also begin its work, holding concerts of chamber music with important musicians from abroad and good native players and directors. The “Circle of Friends” too, one of the many liberal associations of the city, was often promoting musical experiments.As for the Guillaume Theatre, stage for famous artists, is was no less that the “grande”. The shows held there would cover all artistic genres, from prose to plays, to prestige and fortune-telling, or puppet shows, but the most successful events were the concerts of orchestras or choirs, whose dimension was adapted to the structure of the theatre.On the same page of the paper we can read this: “Guillaume Theatre: tonight the very first show of the first baritone Mr Negrini Antonio, in the four-act opera by Master Marchetti: RUY BLAS. After the second act the artist will sing together with the bass Mr Nicolini Alessandro who is kindly going to join in for the duet of “Il Rival Salvar Tu Dei” from the “I Puritani” by Master Vincenzo Bellini”. In those years we see the improvement of religious music, always a difficult field due to the lack of good directors and choirs. The City Band of Brescia is the subject of another article: “…and we think about popular music, it is with real pleasure that we enjoy the shows from the City Band, perfectly trained by the good, clever and passionate Master Forbeck, and directed by that great musician under the name of Baresani”.Finally, we know of several shows of different music associations belonging to the sections of the Army, who would alternate in the barracks of the city. These groups would offer a varied repertoire, from military music to ball music (waltz) and arrangements of opera works. The “Corpo Musicale dei Derelitti” was also very active, and it was formed by the orphans registered to an association under that same name, trained and directed by Master Castelli. All these associations were often helped by good musicians educated at the music school we have mentioned before, the “Filarmonico Venturi”.Such was the musical environment at the end of the XX century in the province of Brescia: its importance and its activities spread around the province and became an example for several associations which were just born at that time.In our Valley this musical echo arrived quite late, because at that time the links with Bergamo were quick and well-established, whereas to reach Brescia it was still necessary to cross the lake; however, it did have an important role in the development of the artistic culture in our territory.