Academic journal article Transactions of the American Philosophical Society

Student Days (1924-31)

Academic journal article Transactions of the American Philosophical Society

Student Days (1924-31)

Article excerpt

Il Conservatorio «Vincenzo Bellini» Di Palermos 1924-27

The University of Palermo: 1925-27

Il Conservatorio «Luigi Cherubini» Di Firenze: 1927-31

The University of Florence« 1927-30

IL CONSERVATORIO «VINCENZO BELLINI» DI PALERMO: 1924-27

The Conservatory of Palermo, where Nino Pirrotta registered at the beginning of academic year 1924/25, originated in an institution founded by the Neapolitan viceroy in the early seventeenth century. With the Risorgimento and unification of Italy, it passed to the Italian state in 1861 and in 1889 became the Regio Conservatorio. The institution's administrative structure was reformed several times in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: an ecclesiastical rectorate, abolished in 1884, was replaced by a presidency, which in turn was abolished and supplanted by a Consiglio d'Amminstrazione (Administrative Council). In 1935 the presidency was restored, and two years later Pirrotta's uncle Empedocle began a brief term as president.

However, the more significant administrative position was that of director. The directorship of composer Guglielmo Zuelli was extremely important to the evolution of the institution that Pirrotta knew, first as student and later as faculty member. Zuelli1 became director in 1894 and served until 1911, when he assumed the analogous position in Parma. It was because of Zuelli that the Conservatory was named for Vincenzo Bellini. It was during Zuelli's tenure that Pirrotta's teacher Amadio was appointed to the faculty. And among the composition students whom Zuelli taught were Gino Marinuzzi (1882-1945) and Giuseppe Mulé (1885-1951), both of whom figured prominently in Pirrotta's career: Marinuzzi as dedicatee of one of Pirrotta's important articles on seventeenth-century opera;2 both Marinuzzi and Mulé as subjects of his journalistic writings of the early to mid-1980s.3

In 1922, Mulé became director of the «Bellini», where he remained until the end of the first of Pirrotta's three years as student (1924/25). Then, from 1925 to 1943 he served as director of the Conservatory of Rome, where Pirrotta was later to serve as Bibliotecario. Notwithstanding the brevity of his tenure in Palermo, Mulé initiated important artistic and administrative reforms.

In 1926, Antonio Savasta (1874-1959), another important figure in Pirrotta's formation, succeeded Mulé.4 Pirrotta studied composition privately with Savasta after completing his formal studies at the Conservatory and University of Florence,5 and among Savasta's other composition students was Mario Pilati, who-like Marinuzzi and Mulé-was a subject of Pirrotta's music-critical writings for the Palermitan daily L'Ora. Savasta was director of the Conservatory throughout the early to mid-1930s when Pirrotta began his professional activities there as docent in music history and librarian. And he was the institution's chief administrative officer when Pirrotta won the concorso (competition) in 1937 for the positions of titolare (tenured professor) in Storia della música and Bibliotecario, which he assumed in 1938, the year Savasta resigned from the directorship.

During the second decade of the twentieth century, shortly before Pirrotta was to enroll there, the Conservatory of Palermo had a faculty of some thirty, including the "Prof[.j di Organo," "M.° Luigi Amadio," and Pirrotta's predecessor as librarian, Emanuele Paolo Morello.

THE UNIVERSITY OF PALERMO: 1925-27

Having completed the final year of liceo privately during his first year at the Conservatory of Palermo (1924/25) and passed the esame di maturità, Pirrotta was qualified to enter university, and in the fall of 1925 he registered in the Faculty of Letters and Philosophy at the University of Palermo, intending to pursue the doctorate (laurea) in philosophy.6

It was exceptional for a Sicilian to pursue the laurea, let alone anywhere other than in Sicily.7 Pirrotta's decision to enroll in letters and philosophy and pursue the doctorate in philosophy rather than letters was also uncommon; of the 161 students enrolled in letters and philosophy for the academic year 1928/29, 158 were enrolled in letters. …

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