Concertisti Classica, la musica classica in Italia
Classical Music in Italy
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Who owns the largest collection of classical music in the world?
Many libraries and archives around the world hold important collections of this musical genre, but one in particular has a large collection of Italian classical music, including original scores and recordings
Classical music has been written and published from many different sources over the centuries, and many of these works are held in archives and libraries around the world.

However, some institutions are particularly known for their large classical music collections and for their work in preserving and disseminating music. Here are some examples:

  •  – United States Library of Congress: This library, located in Washington DC, has a large collection of classical music, including original scores, recordings and other historical documents.
  • – Bibliothèque Nationale de France: This library, located in Paris, has a large collection of French classical music, including original scores and recordings.

But one in particular attracts the attention of scholars and researchers:

  • – The National Central Library of Florence: This library has a large collection of Italian classical music, including original scores and recordings.

The National Central Library of Florence is one of the most important Italian and European libraries. Together with the National Library of Rome, it performs the functions of the central national library.

It has around 5,500,000 printed volumes, 115,000 periodicals of which around 15,000 are in progress, 3,900 incunabula, 25,000 manuscripts, 29,000 sixteenth century editions and around 1,000,000 autographs.

In 2013, the shelves of the book deposits covered 135 linear km, with an annual increase of over 1.5 km.

History: from the Magliabechiana Library to the National Central Library

A series of favorable circumstances had allowed Florence - a city of about 75,000 inhabitants, like Bologna and Genoa - to form in the 17th century a large number of book collections in the hands of private individuals, religious and, naturally, the Medici house, reigning over the Grand Duchy .

The important work of Antonio Magliabechi fits into this framework who, due to his commitment as librarian of the princes Francesco Maria and Cardinal Leopoldo, and for his personal interest in his own collection (composed of 30,000 volumes), was at the center of a dense web of relationships with scholars and booksellers from all over Europe which allowed him and then the city (to which he left his books) to line up a large part of European production between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries on the shelves of his library.

The origins of the current National Central Library of Florence date back to 26 May 1714, when Antonio Magliabechi, now on his deathbed, declared to the notary Giovanni Evangelista Miccinesi his will to leave his 30,000 volumes to the poor of the city of Florence, to the aim of forming "a public library for the universal benefit of the city".

With Magliabechi's death, his collection passed to the city and therefore the story must be framed in the history of the peninsula's libraries that were established between the second half of the 1600s and the first years of the following century.
In fact, it is essential to note that the Magliabechiana was established "for the use of the poor" where the adjective refers to a group of scholars who were among the "shameful" poor and who therefore needed to use, in addition to the books they possessed among the domestic walls for the most varied reasons such as devotion, profession, the pleasure of knowing, inherited heritage, to other collections more equipped with texts.

In 1861 the Magliabechiana was unified with the large Palatine Library (established by Ferdinand III of Lorraine) and assumed the name of National Library and from 1885 the name of central. From 1870 he received a copy of everything published in Italy by right to print.

The rich patrimony of digital copies of printed music of the Central National Library of Florence, which has been established since 2008, undoubtedly corresponds to the true interest of an audience. In fact, the images derive from requests from users who, when they request the full reproduction of a musical publication, allow a digitized copy to remain in the Library.
The tendency has been to request predominantly music from the early twentieth century (no longer covered by copyright) of which the library maintains a large collection, as it is the recipient of the legal deposit also for musical publications of works printed in Italy since 1869. The collection of the Nazionale is characterized by the fact that it documents the publishing production of both cultured music and light and popular music, not always kept in other institutes. 

Funds of musical interest

Luigi Dallapiccola
donated in 1995
1,390 printed scores;
30 monographs of musical interest;
294 vinyl records.
Also part of the donation is the upright piano on which the Maestro composed Volo di notte.

Massimo Mila
purchased in 2000 by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and includes:
8,000 volumes
470 periodical titles
1,200 theater programs
3,400 music editions
2,750 vinyl records

Ildebrando Pizzetti
in part acquired by the National Central Library of Florence in antiques (2002), in part donated by the master's son, Bruno Pizzetti.
The collection includes a collection of autographed manuscripts by the composer Ildebrando Pizzetti (Parma 1880 - Rome 1968).

Rostirolla collection
purchased by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities in 1990.
Of the 1,568 specimens that make up the collection, about 170 manuscripts come from the Compagnoni Marefoschi library, an important collection in the Marches dating back to the 18th-19th centuries and divided between the Casanatense Library in Rome, some private individuals and the National Central Library in Florence.

Gisella Selden-Goth
purchased in 1987, includes:
370 printed music scores, some music periodical files, concert programs, reviews, handwritten music notes, documentary material. 

Therefore, the National Central Library of Florence, one of the most important Italian libraries, is a reference point for musical research. Its extensive collection of classical music and its study and reference services make the Sala Musica an important resource for classical music scholars, musicians and enthusiasts.

A curiosity

The National Central Library of Florence, together with Villa Adriana and Villa d'Este, has been registered in the list of cultural assets subject to enhanced protection in the event of armed conflict, established by the 1999 Protocol II of the 1954 Unesco Convention in The Hague. Inscription on the list entails immunity: in the event of an armed conflict, sites duly marked with the blue shield of the Convention cannot be attacked or used for military purposes.

National Central Library of Florence

piazza Cavalleggeri, 1 – Florence

tel. 055/249191



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