89986 - Musicology, Philosophy, Aesthetics (LM)

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student: - knows at a general level the problems and challenges that music, in the course of its historical evolution and in the course of its encounters with other cultures, has set to western philosophical thought; - learns how to use some lexicon and some concepts specific to musicology, also through the reading of several relevant sources. On the basis of his readings, of the professor’s teaching and of common discussion, the student is able to recognize the historical (and therefore contingent and relative) nature of the acquired concepts and learns how to contextualize them.

Course contents

'Aesthetics of beauty' and 'aesthetics of ugliness' in early nineteenth-century Opera.

The course will focus on aesthetic evaluations concerning Italian opera and its transformations in the early nineteenth century. Through the opinions of contemporary listeners, critics and musicographers (see bibliography) we will explore 1) the contemporary conception of Opera and its aesthetics focused on 'belcanto', 2) the following affirmation, also in Italy, of the French romantic artistic aesthetics, based on sensational and violent effects. Genres such as mélodrame and Victor Hugo's new drama claim as legitimate the representation of the 'ugliness' and the grotesque alongside 'the beauty' and the sublime.

The first module will be entirely devoted to Gioachino Rossini: his aesthetics, style, musical and dramatic language, influence on contemporary and younger composers.

The second module will focus on Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto, the greatest achievement in musical theatre of the aesthetic ideals promoted by Victor Hugo's Cromwell preface, considered the manifesto of literary romanticism and, more generally, of a new sensitivity able to influence other arts.

The list of musical excerpt, librettos and teaching materials will be published on the teacher website during the lectures ("Risorse didattiche su Virtuale").


First module

- [G.L. Engelbach],The Characteristics of Rossini Compositions, in "The New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal", XXVI, 1829, pp. 537-544; XXVIII, 1830, pp. 55-62, 121-125;

- A. Zanolini, Una passeggiata in compagnia di Rossini, in Biografia di Gioachino Rossini, Bologna, Zanichelli, 1875, pp. 283-293 (https://books.google.it/advanced_book_search?hl=it:


- Pestelli, Giuseppe Carpani e il neoclassicismo musicale della vecchia Italia, «Quaderni della rassegna musicale», IV (Musica e arti figurative), 1968, pp. 105-121;

- Rossiniana. Antologia della critica nella prima metà dell'Ottocento, a cura di C. Steffan, Pordenone, Studio Tesi, 1992 (including B. Cagli, La perfezion del teatro, pp. IX-XVI and l'Introduzione di C. Steffan, pp. XVII-XXVII);

- P. Fabbri, Rossini the Aesthetician, in «Cambridge Opera Journal», VI/1, 1994, pp. 19-29;

- L. Bianconi, «Confusi e stupidi»: di uno stupefacente (e banalissimo) dispositivo metrico, Gioachino Rossini 1792-1992: il testo e la scena, a cura di P. Fabbri, Pesaro, Fondazione Rossini, 1994, pp. 129-161;

- Gallarati, Le "Rossiniane" di Carpani, La ricezione di Rossini ieri e oggi, Roma, Accademia nazionale dei Licei, 1994, pp.69-80 (also in L'Europa del melodramma: da Calzabigi a Rossini, Alessandria, Edizioni Dell'Orso, 1999, pp. 261-279);

- C. Steffan, Presenza e persistenza di Rossini nella riflessione estetico-musicale del primo Ottocento, in Gioachino Rossini 1792-1992. Il testo e la scena, ed. by P. Fabbri, Pesaro, Fondazione Rossini, 1994, pp. 79-91;

- M. Beghelli, Dall'"autoimprestito" alla "tinta": elogio di un «péché de jeunesse», in Gioachino Rossini 1868-1968. La musica e il mondo, ed. by I. Narici, E. Sala, E. Senici, B. Walton, Pesaro, Fondazione Rossini, 2018, pp. 49-91;

- M. Giuggioli, Tempeste rossiniane: caratteristiche e significato, in Gioachino Rossini 1868-1968. La musica e il mondo, ed. by I. Narici, E. Sala, E. Senici, B. Walton, Pesaro, Fondazione Rossini, 2018, pp. 145-172.

Non-attending students will add: F. d'Amico, Il teatro di Rossini, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1992.

Second module

V. Hugo, Prefazione a Cromwell, Paris, Dupont, 1828, pp. I-LXIV,


P. Weiss, Verdi and the Fusion of genres, in "Journal of the American Musicological Society", XXXV (1967/68), pp. 111-127;

M. Conati, Rigoletto. Un'analisi drammatico-musicale, Venezia, Marsilio, 1992 (contiene il libretto dell'opera, in appendice I primi commenti della stampa periodica);

S. Lamacchia, Il dissoluto impunito, ossia l'acuto della «Donna è mobile»: la catastrofe da "Le roi s'amuse" a "Rigoletto", in Die Musik des Mörders - Les romantiques et l'opéra - I romantici e l'opera, a cura di C. Faverzani, Lucca, LIM, 2018, pp. 171-182.

- the online teaching material ("Virtual teaching resources").

The lectures will comment readings of nineteenth-century reviews printed in periodicals, many of which are digitized and can be found online (www.internetculturale.it, Biblioteca digitale).

Useful collections of published reviews will be considered: Gioachino Rossini nella stampa periodica coeva (1812-1825). Antologia, in La ricezione di Rossini ieri e oggi, Roma, Accademia nazionale dei Licei, 1994, pp. 251-284.

First and second module.

Students lacking adequate knowledge of the history of Opera, especially 19th century Italian Opera, are advised to read (or reread) the chapters devoted to the subject in a good textbook on music history.

Teaching methods

Lectures, readings and comments on dramatic and aesthetic texts, discussions with the class-group.

Assessment methods

The exam consists of an oral examination.

Teaching tools

Power point, video projections

Office hours

See the website of Saverio Lamacchia