Bologna has a rich musical heritage which continues to the present day. A visitor to Bologna may enjoy concerts, visit several excellent music museums, and find musical reminders of the past in art works around the city. In 2006 Bologna became a UNESCO Creative City of Music.
There are two interesting music museums in Bologna.
The International Museum and Library of Music is located at 34 Strada Maggiore in a beautiful old building, the 16th century Palazzo Sanguinetti.
It has a modest but interesting collection of instruments, paintings and memorabilia. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this museum is the display of manuscripts selected from the library. This is based on the collection of Father Giambattista Martini . He was famous as an organist and music scholar in the 18th century. A 14 year old Mozart came to Bologna to study with him and the museum displays a test completed by him.
One of the treasures on display is the only known copy of the world’s first printed polyphonic music, entitled ‘Harmonice Musices Odhecaton’. The page in the image below is a four part piece by Josquin, ‘Adieu Mes Amours‘.
The other principal music museum in Bologna is San Colombano which houses the Tagliavini Collection of keyboard instruments. The museum building, a deconsecrated church which dates back to the 7th century, houses an incredible collection of instruments from the 16th to the 20th centuries. The collection is based on that of Luigi Ferdinando Tagliavini, since expanded due to the support of a local bank.
The seventy or so instruments are all in working order and many are used in concerts held at the museum.
You can check for upcoming concerts at this site. Usually you need to pick up a free ticket at the museum anytime from the preceding Saturday .
Another ex-church that hosts concerts is the Oratorio of Santa Cecilia. This is located behind the large church of San Giacomo Maggiore in Via Zambone. Entry is by donation and the proceeds support a program that provides meals to homeless people.
There are usually 3 concerts a week for most of the year. You can find out what’s on and book up to 5 seats at the San Giacomo Festival site. Most concerts have available seats for those who haven’t booked. An added attraction is that you can admire the frescoes from around 1506 depicting the life of Santa Cecilia, the patron saint of music.
In the adjoining large church of San Giacomo you can see the splendid chapel of the Bentivoglio family who ruled the city for a period in the late 15th century. In this chapel you will be able to spot this little musical duo.
There are many musical depictions in the art works of the churches of Bologna. As a trombone player, my favourite is the heavenly band painted by Ludovico Carracci in 1616. It‘s located in a side chapel on the right in San Paolo Maggiore, located at number 18 Via Carbonari.
The church of San Michele has this unusual wood inlay depiction of a lutenist.
You can visit the mummified body of Santa Caterina de Vigri in the Monastery of Corpus Domini in Via Tagliapietre.
In 2013, the early music group, La Reverdie, recorded a CD in the style representative of that sung by Caterina de Vigri and fellow nuns to mark the 600th anniversary of her birth in 1413.
The Saint’s violetta is on display with other personal items in the chapel containing her mummy. A copy was made a few years ago by the Luthier’s workshop at Philharmonic Academy of Bologna.
As well as the workshop associated with the Academy, a number of luthier’s shops can be seen whilst strolling around the streets of Bologna.
In writing this post, I realized that there was far too much material for one post, so I decided to split into two. The second post is Music and Bologna Part 2