The Salerno State Conservatoire 'Giuseppe Martucci', located in Street Salvatore De Renzi, has descended from a music school founded during the Bourbon reign (1819). Over about two centuries, it acquired different legal frameworks:
- Music School, until 1953;
- Institute recognised as equivalent to a Music High School, until 1963;
- Branch of the Naples Conservatoire 'S. Pietro a Majella', until 1980;
- Independent Conservatoire, until today.
The main historical information about this Institution, which through the years has received international rewards for either its activity or its numerous students’ record of distinction, is summarised below.
'S. Ferdinando' Music School
The Salerno Conservatoire comes directly from the 'S. Ferdinando' hospice (beginning of 1819). The administrative order bestowing this legal framework (n. 1438 – the 1st of January) also regulated the operations of schools and designation of the personnel as well as supervised the administrative management.
'S. Ferdinando' hospice, so called from 1816 onwards, received its name from Ferdinand IV of Bourbon (1734-1825) who, after the way back to Naples from Sicily, ruled under the name Ferdinand I (1815-25); it had been designated by Joachim Murat as the shelter of beggars of both sexes (the 1st of November 1813); from 1818, until the half of the century, it also welcomed orphans aged from seven to eighteen. In turn, this hospice had been built close the convents of St Nicholas and St Lawrence, which were confiscated from the people belonging to the Reformed Religious order following the subversive laws of 1807 and 1811 by Napoleon, whereby he abolished any religious orders from the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Until that time, the two buildings belonged to the abovementioned religious people, who occupied both around 1586.
Previously, St Lawrence’s was owned by the Poor Clare Nuns. John of Procida, driven by personal reasons (his daughter Giovanna entered that religious order) donated the house in 1295; he bought it from the Benedictine Fathers (the nuns dwelled there since the foundation – 963 or 872 – due to Gisulf I).
On the other hand, St Nicholas’s had been occupied from the Benedictine Fathers since its foundation, from 1080 to 1088, by means of the beatified Leon, abbot in Cava de’ Tirreni (6 miles northwest of Salerno). This happened during the ruling power of the archbishop Alfano I, until 1407; following the motion by queen Margaret of Durazzo, Gregorio XII ordered the Fathers the cessation.
After 1851, beggars were welcomed at the St Mary of Graces’s convent whilst S. Ferdinando’s was made available for minor orphans.
When Prince Umberto of Savoy ascended the throne, the orphanage got the name 'Umberto I', which was kept until the past few years. In order to integrate the orphans who dwelled at this house into the world of work, some professional courses were provided (tailoring, shoemaking, woodworking, but above all music).
Alfonso Menna, mayor of Salerno for about fifteen years, in his book "Una Istituzione allo specchio", writes:
Young people, thanks to most of the available financial aid, were constantly tutored so that they could receive an adequate musical preparation. In this way, the other professional courses had a limited activity. With this in mind the life of the Institution was identified with that of the School.
Following the decree of the 7th of April 1819 issued by the Ministry of the Interior, father Gabriele from Forio d'Ischia was appointed as the first teacher and director of the music school; he remained in office until 1855, when Maestro Domenico Ansalone took over. The following maestros who managed the school, until June 1869, were Antonio Pipitone and Raffaele Caravaglios. Temistocle Marzano, who was Saverio Mercadante’s student, was the next director in charge of the Salerno Institution; he was designated by his teacher himself.
After 27 years of teaching and management – the 27th of April 1896 – Marzano died suddenly leaving a vacancy. Augusto Ruggiero, teacher at the same school, was temporarily in charge as director, pending a new appointment. Indeed, on the 17th of December 1897, the Committee chose Maestro Vincenzo Grandine, who carried out both director and teacher duties for 34 years (until the 22nd of December 1932).
The next teacher in charge as director was Carlo Cammarota, following the approval of the Committee (the 1st of August 1933).
Maestro Cammarota served until the 31st of October 1939 when, having won the public selection at the 'S. Cecilia' Conservatoire in Rome, left the vacancy in Salerno. Maestro Manlio Barrella was temporarily in charge as director until the outbreak of WWII, which nearly brought about the closure of the school. Indeed, only one tutor, two teachers and a few ill students not suitable for fighting still remained.
The renaissance work was considerably favoured by Maestro Luigi Marino, who already was a music tutor since the 14th of June 1934. Indeed, he aimed at restoring the band and as well as scheduling weekly concerts at the venues recommended by the municipal administration.
The first open competitive exam for director was announced after WWII; Maestro Domenico D’Ascoli won it and took office on the 15th of April 1953.
'Giuseppe Martucci' State-recognised School
Under the guidance of Maestro D'Ascoli, the old music school got the first important legal acknowledgment: the recognition as a State Institution.
During the school year 1950-51 – Menna writes in the abovementioned work – 136 students were enrolled. The School had a structure compliant with State Conservatoires; it only lacked the legal acknowledgement which resulted a path full of hurdles. The first relevant step took place by means of the Decree issued by Enaudi, the President of the Italian Republic (the 17th of December 1953). The first courses were only Violin, Cello, Double bass, oboe, trumpet, trombone, flute, clarinet and French horn.
Following Maestro D'Ascoli’s suggestion, the new music high school was named after Neapolitan composer, conductor and pianist Giuseppe Martucci. Today, the Institution keeps the same name. Despite this, the request of an economical standardisation in behalf of teachers, and the consequent impossibility to comply it, brought the school on the brim of closure. With this in mind, in order not to waste the results achieved up until that time, the music school was transformed into a branch of the Naples Conservatoire 'S. Pietro a Maiella'.
Branch of the Naples Conservatoire 'S. Pietro a Maiella'
The new legal setting aimed at strengthening the Salerno school. It took place on the 27th of March 1963 thanks to Minister of Education Luigi Cui, and also called for an agreement (the 16th of December 1964) between the Naples Conservatoire and Umberto I’s.
The lack of commitment on behalf of the 'S. Pietro a Majella', probably led the Salerno management staff to detach their school from the Naples Conservatoire so that they could promote their complete autonomy.
Menna, in the above mentioned work, writes as follows:
The Administration of Umberto I has always respected fixed agreements: most of the time it has gone beyond. I cannot say the same as for the ‘S. Pietro a Majella’ Conservatoire. The school keeps on falling; disciplinary commitments results are weaker and weaker; teachers, almost all coming from other seats, are often absent and stint on the timetable; some of them even show indifference towards their students; the race at private lessons develops within the milieu. The few musicians qualified to teach are no longer able to offer such strong competence as before. The necessary didactical equipment runs out and, due to this, students’ turmoil is more and more frequent. The Salerno branch is considered as the poor side of the medal: any humiliation is permitted, and everything is levelled off! The cultural heritage of the school, which cost so much effort, weakens gradually. The only supervisors’ worries was to provide with a formal demonstration to fulfil their task. Such an approach, limited to a hollow formula, could lead to but decay. Enrolments keep on dropping, and favourable outcomes were slow: students, among the best, often quit the class during the school year so that they could move elsewhere or study privately: a lack of confidence fills the whole school. Inspections do not miss and everything stays unvaried, if not worse than ever.
The first attempt to gain autonomy took place in 1975 thanks to Alfonso Menna, who was the administrator of Umberto I; the jurisdiction also called for the music school. There followed further attempts, but they all failed. The turning point occurred when Salvatore Valitutti was appointed as Ministry of Education; being from Salerno, he was familiar with the long-standing problems. Valitutti and his collaborator, De Filippo, who was a member of the City Council, were urged by Alfonso Menna to redeem the situation. The Ministry then achieved the autonomy of the music school and informed Menna enthusiastically with the following telegram:
I am pleased to inform you that, following the Decree issued by the President of the Republic, on the 14th of March 1980, my proposal about the autonomy of the Salerno Conservatoire has been approved. Best regards.
From the 14th of March 1980 until today, the following people played a role in the management of the Conservatoire:
- Board of Directors: Alfonso Menna, Paolo Farnararo, Corinna Bottiglieri (Lawyer), Ambrogio Ietto (Director of studies), Pina Boggi Cavallo (Full Professor at the faculty of Psychology – Salerno University), Ciro Stanzione (Trade unionist), Pasquale Petrillo (Journalist); Gianfranco Belmonte (Lawyer); Francesco Lanocita (Lawyer); Catello De Martino (Human resources manager).
- Directors: Franco Pezzullo (since October 1980, Clarinettist); Argenzio Iorio (since October 1981, Composer); Luigi Campanino (since November 1989, Orchestra conductor); Concetta Di Natale (since November 1991, Pianist); Pasquale Pinna (since October 1998, Pianist and composer); Francesco De Mattia (since June 2006, Harpsichordist and composer); Fulvio Maffia (since March 2009, Pianist); Imma Battista (since June 2014, Pianist).