Biaggi, Girolamo Alessandro
- Sergio Lattes
(b Calcio, nr Bergamo, Feb 2, 1819; d Florence, March 21, 1897). Italian music critic and composer. He studied the violin in Milan, and was taught composition by Vaccai. While still a student he wrote a comic opera Don Desiderio disperato per eccesso di buon cuore (1839) and his later works include the opera Martino delta Scala (1856, Messina), a Requiem (1856) and other sacred music, cantatas and songs. He was for some time a conductor. In 1847 he founded L’Italia musicale, and (as Ippolito d’Albano) contributed to the Gazzetta musicale di Milano and other periodicals. From 1863 he taught at the Istituto Musicale in Florence and was critic of La nazione; he played a major role in the city’s flourishing musical life.
Although Biaggi was a supporter of the German instrumental and chamber tradition, as an opera critic his standard was the Italian tradition that culminated in Rossini (he had met the composer in Paris), and he showed limited sympathy for opera of his own time. He did, however, adopt advanced ideas on Rossini, defending him against the formalistic criticism that categorized the composer as a mediocre dramatist and an unorthodox church composer. In his reviews of Beethoven performances, at that time manifestations of the avant garde in Italy, he on the one hand rejected any hedonistic concept of music, and on the other opposed the notion of ‘musical truth’ to the old canon of verisimilitude (the imitation of nature), that is, he stood for the principle of artistic creation according to its own laws. He consequently also upheld the artistic autonomy of sacred music, defending the composer’s freedom of language even in that sphere. A large work on the life and work of Rossini, the outgrowth of his essay of ...