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Giovanni Bolzoni - Paolo's Granduncle

He was born in Parma on May 14, 1841.

He was orphaned of his father when he was still a child, due to family poverty he was unable to devote himself to regular studies, until his mother managed to get him lessons in music theory, given free of charge by a chorister of the Teatro Regio and then let him enter as an internal student in the local Music School, now a conservatory. Bolzoni attended that school for seven years: he studied the violin with G. Del Maino, singing with Griffini, piano with Grumtner and harmony and composition with G. Rossi; meanwhile, he played as a violinist in the orchestra of the Teatro Regio.

Graduated in 1859, he began his career in 1864 as first violin (with the functions of concertmaster and substitute teacher) at the Teatro Comunale of Reggio Emilia; two years later he had the same position at the Comunale of Cremona, collaborating with A. Ponchielli as conductor, and in 1867 in Savona, where he also taught the violin. From Savona he went on to direct numerous opera seasons in the main Italian theaters. In 1874, having won the competition, he was appointed director of the F. Morlacchi Musical Institute in Perugia, where he stayed until 1876, also directing the orchestra of the local theatre.

He became then director of the Teatro Municipale of Piacenza and after a few years spent in this city he settled permanently in Turin: on the advice of Verdi he was in fact entrusted with the direction of the Teatro Regio for the five-year period 1884-1889. The 1884-85 opera season opened with Le Villi by G. Puccini and Bolzoni obtained, for that first admirable performance, followed by numerous others of equal value, the praise of the critics in the Piedmontese Journal.

Appointed in July 1887 director of the musical high school of Turin - currently the G. Verdi conservatory - until 1916, he devoted himself mainly to composition and teaching (among his many students he had F. Collino, G. Blanc, G. Fino, F. Varese, L. Sinigallia, etc.).

Under the direction of Bolzoni, the Turin high school made use of a series of important provisions and institutions: the compulsory school of theory and solfeggio, the combination of the violin and viola school, the beginning of quartet exercises, the institutions of a school of generic, literary and scientific elementary knowledge, of the chairs of organ (1892), harp (1901) and piano (1903).

The activity of director of Bolzoni was also notable in the symphonic concerts, of which the three concerts held by the Turin Orchestral Association in April 1886 at the Vittorio Theatre in Turin and, in December, the last two of the so-called "Popular Concerts" deserve special mention. ", and in Milan, called by Ricordi, the six concerts of the Orchestral Society of the Teatro alla Scala in May of the same year. He again conducted a concert at the Vittorio Theater in Turin in May 1905 and in February 1910 one, dedicated entirely to his compositions, at the Augusteo in Rome.

Giovanni Bolzoni died in Turin on February 21, 1919. An excellent opera concertmaster and demanding conductor, Bolzoni was also a good teacher and a good composer. More than in theatrical works, which had limited success, he distinguished himself in chamber music and in numerous short symphonic compositions aimed at keeping alive the tradition of Italian instrumental and symphonic music.

Giovanni Bolzoni Composer

At 10, following the path taken by his brother Felice, he was admitted to the Royal School of Music in Parma where he studied violin with Giuseppe Del Majno and composition with Giovanni Rossi, graduating in 1859, the first in-house student who had completed his studies in composition, piano and violin.

He began his career as a violinist first in Parma, then in Reggio Emilia, where he was also a substitute teacher, to move after a year to the direction of the orchestra of the Teatro Comunale di Cremona. Another year, then in Savona as director of the theater and teacher in the music school.

He remained there until 1874, then, from competition to competition, he was the director of the Liceo Morlacchi of Perugia, of the Municipal Theater together with that of singing teacher in the Musical Lyceum of Piacenza: here in the summer of 1879 he became an impresario to represent the Stabat Mater by Pergolesi.

In 1884 the position of director of the Turin musical high school and of the orchestra, both dependent on the Municipality, went to contest. Alessandro Pomé, Emilio Usiglio, Gialdino Gialdini, Vincenzo Fornari, Marino Mancinelli, Nicola Bassi and Oreste Bimboni were in the running.

Giulio Ricordi wrote to the mayor of Turin: "Excellent that Bolzoni: perhaps he is the best among the proposals. He is a kind person, very good musician and very authoritative in the orchestra". After Verdi went to Turin on June 22, apparently on purpose, Bolzoni formally asked for that place. He was declared the winner and received the nomination with a salary of 5,000 lire a year.

He was already known to the Turin public for concerts for various acclaimed symphonic compositions: in a period in which chamber music, symphonic and polyphonic vocal were almost completely unknown in Italy, he took care of the opera, to devote himself to these genres. .

He was the author of about 200 chamber and orchestral compositions. His works were appreciated and received awards in public competitions: in 1866 the prize of the Società del Quartetto di Firenze for a large orchestra symphony; he was first in 1869 for a string quintet with piano, again in 1874 for a symphony at the Società del Quartetto di Milano; in the competition announced in the same year by the Società del Dottour Balanzòn of Bologna for a symphony; second to Lucca.

As conductor, he made his debut on the podium of the Teatro Regio in Turin with Puccini's Le Villi, followed by other operas, including a Lohengrin with Roberto Stagno, while in the famous Popular Concerts he had Toscanini as cellist.

He directed in various cities (Florence, Teatro Pagliano, 1880, Stella by Auteri Manzocchi), Codogno (Teatro Sociale, 1884, Verdi's I due Foscari), Bologna (Teatro Comunale, 1885, replacing the ill Luigi Mancinelli, Dinorah, Linda and replicas of La Traviata), Ravenna, Asti (1891, Carmen), Lugo (1886, Mefistofele, and the press wrote "superb concertation"), Piacenza (Politeama Theater) and so on.

After separating the position of director of the musical high school from that of conductor of the orchestra, in 1887 the competition for the place in the school was announced: 13 competitors, winner Bolzoni.

In his almost thirty-year work as ruler of the Turin institute, "he impressed a vigorous and fruitful orientation. He was concerned with improving the teaching condition of the Lyceum, regulation in hand, proving himself severe and inflexible".

A great teacher, among the students he had in composition are Edgar Varese, one of the leading figures of the international musical avant-garde, and Leone Sinigaglia, one of the most valid restorers of nineteenth-century national instrumentalism on a deliberately romantic Central European basis.

He remained in charge of the institute, of which he can almost be said to be the founder, until 1916, when at 75 he resigned for health reasons.


Giulia da Cazzuola (Fi, 1869); Un matrimonio civile, opera giocosa in 1 atto di Giacomo Schianelli (Savona e Parma, 1870); La stella delle Alpi, melodramma in 4 atti di G. Schianelli (Savona, 1871, rielaborata: Parma, Teatro Reinach, 1875); Jella, melodramma in 4 atti di Stefano Interdonato (Piacenza, Teatro Municipale, 1881); Venezia in Vienna, scena lirica (Vienna, 1899).

Compositions for Orchestra

Adagio a grande orchestra.; Al castello medioevale, op. 63, per piccola orchestra; Andante con variazioni; Armonia della sera, per orchestra; Dafne e Cloe, op. 99, per piccola orchestra; Elegia per grande orchestra; Gavotta, op. 158, per archi; Giulio Cesare, ouverture; Idillio sul mare, per orchestra; Maccheroni alla napoletana, per orchestra; Madrigal, per orchestra; Melanconia campestre, per piccola orchestra; Menuet du Quintet, op. 23 de Louis Boccherini; Minuetto, op. 157, per archi; Dialogo, op. 167, per cello e archi; Peccati di gioventù, per piccola orchestra; Polca, per orchestra; Pot pourri sulla Messa da requiem di Giuseppe Verdi, a grande orchestra, 1878 ; Quies, op. 137, per archi; Racconto di gioventù, bozzetto per piccola orchestra, partitura e parti; Saul, ouverture; Sinfonia nell'opera Aroldo di Giuseppe Verdi,; Sinfonia in mi, per orchestra, 1880; Suite drammatica a grande orchestra, op. 111, 1898; Tutti innamorati, serenata per fiati con acc. d'archi; Vers Paris charmeur, op. 129, marcia per orchestra.

Chamber Music

String Quartets

Aggirandomi tra i meandri dell'armonia, op. 69; Dammi pace o mio pensiero; Dolce sogno; Dolore e gioia montanina (Mi: Ric); Draghignasso e Graffiacane, op. 117; E canto quello che mi detta l'estro, op. 70; E' piu’ facile che un corvo imbianchi all'acqua che diventi civil chi villan nacque; E se tu parti morrò, sarai contento, op. 70 d; Gentilina, gentilina tanto; J'ai tant souffert; Leggiadra ed incostante, op. 185, romanza senza parole; Mamma brontola perché amo Beppe, op. 69, 1887 Menuet lent, op. 157; Mite e placida melanconia; Oh, com'h triste l'anima mia, 1885; Or agitato, or calmo, triste sempre; Peccati di gioventu’; Quando l'arte non ha vita dal cuore, op. 70; Quartetto per archi; Qui tutta verso del dolor la pena, op. 71; Reviens, reviens, op. 70; Romanze senza parole, op. 68; Il ruscello; Son gaia, ma in mezzo al cor ce l'ho la spina; Son gaia, volubile, amorosa; La spigliata; Studi (Mi: Fantuzzi); Tema con variazioni; L'ultimo canto, op. 71 c; Terzetto per 3 violoncelli, op. 141; Canzonetta, per quintetto d'archi, op. 170, 1914; Quintetto in la; Quintetto in re con pf; Un corno inopportuno, op. 120, per quintetto d'archi e corno; Sestetto per ob, 2 cl, cor, 2 fag; Divertimento sopra motivi dell'opera La favorita, 1865, per 7 strumenti: vl, vla, cello, fl, cl, fg, pf Maggiolata, op. 130, per settimino d'archi, fl, e cl.

Piano Sonatas

A lei, romanza senza parole; Armonia d'amore, op. 139; Capriccio, op. 23, 1870; Dafnoide, polka; Dondola, op. 147; Elegia funebre, op. 176, 1916; Farfalle e fiori ; Fiammina, polka; La monaca e il menestrello, 1919; Note volanti, op. 138; Pervinca, mazurca; Piacer...?, mazurka; La quiete del meriggio, op. 144; Ricordo di Savona, notturnino; Santarellina, op. 186; Solo di notte in riva al mare, notturnino; Souvenir de Milan, valzer; Sull'imbrunire, romanza senza parole 1872; Tema con variazioni; Volo di farfalla, op. 166.

Compositions for Organ

Heure mystique; Melodia; Pastorale, op. 109; Pax; Preludio; Suite di 4 pezzi in stile religioso, op. 112, per org o harm.

Instrumental Compositions

Per vl e pf: Andantino appassionato; Desio di pace, op. 135; Notturnino; Racconto di fata; Semplicità campestre; Tranquillità mesta, op. 131; Valzer fantastico; Elegia, per cello e pf; Fervore mistico, op. 155, per cello (o vl) e pf; Souvenir d'Uriage, per cello e pf; Canzone boema, op. 152, per ob e pf; Fantasia, per ob e pf.

Composizioni for Band

Da Torino a Roma, op. 154, marcia; Les petits musiciens, op. 136, marcetta. Molte delle composizioni per altri organici sono state strumentate per banda dalle case editrici specializzate nel settore.

Coral Compositions

A Dio, invocazione, coro per 2 t e bs, poesia di Felicita Morandi; A un primo fiore, a 2 v virili, poesia di Giovanni Ventura, testo in italiano e francese; All'adolescenza italiana, inno; Domine, a 3 v e orchestra; Fratelli d'Oltralpe: Saluto alla Francia, a 4 v virili; Il grillo, per 4 v virili; In alto, coro a 4 v virili; Inno alla primavera, per v e pf; Il lavoro, coro a 4 v virili; Movimento di valzer, coro a 4 v virili; La persecuzione, coro a 4 v miste; Responsorium, a 4 v miste; La ricreazione, per coro a 2 v virili, poesia di Domenico Capellina; Tantum ergo, op. 173, a 2 v virili acc. di org o harm; Tarantella, a 2 v virili acc. di pf; 13 cori diversi.

Coral Compositions and Piano

A te gentile, romanza; L'abbandono, romanza per s; Al mare, op. 100, per ms o br; Ave Maria; La cantata della patria, del lavoro e dell'umanità, per la festa inaugurale dell'Esposizione Internazionale di Torino; D'autunno; Fior di siepe; La giardiniera; Grido di guerra dei volontari d'Italia, 1915, op 175; Inno italiano, per 2 v femminili; Inno alla primavera Non mi lasciar; Ora invernale, op. 54; Oropa; Stornello; Stornello mesto; Tantum ergo per t solo e orchestra; Raccolta di 6 composizioni per canto e pf, op. post.

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