A Major Musical Initiative

Written by  Mauro Meli, Claudio Abbado
The past and future of a project that has transformed Ferrara into one of the great European capitals of music.

The story of Ferrara Musica began on the 27th of April 1989 when the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, conducted by Claudio Abbado, gave a concert before a packed house in the city's newly renovated theatre.

Ferrara Musica is a committee run by the town council of Ferrara, in collaboration with the Fondazione della Cassa di Risparmio di Ferrara. At the time of its founding, the committee was the first organization in Italy to offer a permanent home to a world famous orchestra, in this case the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.

The prestige thus acquired has attracted an entire series of illustrious conductors, soloists, and directors. Over the years, other renowned musical ensembles have followed in the Chamber Orchestra's footsteps so that the stars of Ferrara Musica are now the same names that appear in Europe's major capitals.
Basically, Ferrara Musica organizes concert and opera programmes. Unusually, the organizers have boldly included lesser known works along with the classics, a decision based on the concept that the programme as a whole is more important than any single concert - a conviction whose worth has been confirmed by public enthusiasm. This is the difference between an "event" and the truly "European" cultural project that Ferrara Musica aspires to become.

As the committee normally numbers only six people, costs are therefore minimal. Its greatest success was the Berliner Philarmoniker's first Italian tour in over twenty years. Ferrara is an ideal city in which to make music and theatre, activities that have gone on there for centuries, while the great artists who have performed in the city's beautiful Teatro Comunale all say that it is an architectural and acoustical marvel.

In collaboration with various Italian universities, Ferrara Musica and its sponsors have fathered many other important cultural initiatives including "Musica Incontri", a festival of classical music and jazz scheduled for 1995. Finally, there is Claudio Abbado, without whom much of this would have been impossible. Thanks to his enthusiastic cooperation, Ferrara is the only city in the world where one of his concerts is considered a "normal" event.

Mauro Meli

Ferrara Musica: an example worth following

The city of Ferrara, along with Pesaro, provides an example of great courage and determination as far as cultural investment is concerned, an example that the entire nation should follow. I accepted with enthusiasm when, in 1989, the town council of Ferrara offered me the chance, thanks to the founding of Ferrara Musica, to return to conducting in Italy on a regular basis.

In my view, the city authorities have given proof of great far-sightedness insofar as they have been devoting funds and effort for many years to the cultural sector: from the extraordinary exhibitions organized in the Palazzo dei Diamanti, to the architectural renovation of the city and the offer of a home to the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. This has made it possible to realize successful projects that have also achieved recognition abroad.

In the strictly musical field, as well as the usual Ferrara Musica concert season, it has been possible to undertake - in collaboration with the Teatro Comunale's lyric season - productions that were at first extraordinary (Il viaggio a Reims), but then went on to become the spearhead of a serious fixed programme; I am referring in particular to Così fan tutte and the Marriage of Figaro.

Of no lesser importance was the Berliner Philarmonisches Orchester's decision to entrust Ferrara Musica with the organization of its first Italian tour in over twenty years, thus underlining the professionalism of this organization and contributing to the diffusion of an image of Ferrara as an extremely active cultural centre both in Italy and abroad.

Claudio Abbado