Marco Enrico Bossi – Konzerstück Op.130 for organ, brass, timpani, bells and strings
(b. Salò, 25 April 1861 – d. on the passage from New York to Le Havre, 20 February 1925)
Music in nineteenth-century Italy was dominated by opera – the works of Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini and, above all, Verdi captured people’s imaginations both before and after the Risorgimento. But in the last quarter of that century there emerged a much less trumpeted initiative to revive and reinstate instrumental, chamber and orchestral music. Among the first composers who ‘would resist the theatrical infatuation’ (de’ Paoli) were Sgambati (1841-1914), Martucci (1856-1909), Sinigaglia (1868-1944) and Bossi (1861-1925). These men in no way formed a ‘school’, but developed their language individually and simultaneously one with another, often adopting northern European stylistic models, such as the works of Mendelssohn, Schumann, Liszt, Franck and Brahms. Like certain rivers that flow underground for some of their course, the great tradition of Italian instrumental writing, which had reached its apogee in the early1700s, had become submerged. Its reappearance with the works of these four composers heralded an even more substantial stream of instrumental pieces from the pens of the later, so-called ‘Generation of the 1880s’, who would seek to re-assert true italianità in their music through the use of clear textures and rhythmic vivacity.
Marco Enrico Bossi was born at Salò on the shores of Lake Garda into a family of organists. He received his first instruction in the rudiments of music from his father Pietro, and then went on to study at the Liceo Musicale, Bologna (1871-3) and the Milan Conservatory (1873-81) where his teachers included Ponchielli. In 1881 he won the Concorso Bonetti for his opera Paquita and was appointed Organist and Choir Master at Como Cathedral. From 1890 he taught organ and harmony at the Naples Conservatory, and similar posts in Venice, Bologna and Rome followed. Among his distinguished pupils were Mortari, Ghedini and Malipiero. In 1924 he travelled to the United States to give a series of organ recitals. He died at sea on his way home the next year.
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