Bologna: Accademia Filarmonica

Italy | Bologna


At 4.p.m. on 9 October 1770, Mozart took an entrance examination to become a member of the Accademia Filarmonica. An antiphon was selected, which Mozart was to set in four voices; the result was "Quaerite primum regnum Dei", K. 86/73v. Usually it took several hours to complete such an exam, but Mozart "wrote it in a good half-hour". Members then voted with black or white balls, and Mozart was accepted unanimously with all white balls; he was greeted with applause as he entered. The academy building, with an austere facade, is remarkably intact; there are numerous frescoed ceilings, and both the library where Leopold was locked, and the adjacent room with seventeenth-eighteenth-century dark carved wood furniture, where Mozart is said to have written the exam, have been maintained. The large sala of the academy, which has been enlarged since 1770, has an original small organ from 1673. Because of the excellent acoustics, concerts are still given here. In the academy, the clean copy of the exam antiphon by Mozart is preserved, as are numerous antique viols and wooden flutes.


The Accademia Filarmonica of Bologna was founded in 1666 by the nobleman Vincenzo Maria Carrati who housed it in his family home (Palazzo Carrati, presently located in Via Guerrazzi,13). His intention was to bring together professional musicians accio havere filo et unione da non disunirsi e rendere buon suono (in order to have direction and union so as not to be devided and give forth good music).

Right from its foundation the Accademia adopted the form of a guild or corporative association with the aim of safeguarding the prestige and professionality of its members,this made possible thanks to the high protection of the cardinal of Bologna, Pietro Ottoboni (1713) and the approval by Pope Clement XI of the academys statute (1716). Thanks to the privilege to license the level of Kapellmeister, granted to the institution by the Pope (privilege formerly granted only to the S.Cecilia Music Congregation), the Accademia held the control on all music played in the churches of Bologna. After the unification of Italy, the Accademia had its current statute approved by the King, becoming Regia Accademia Filarmonica di Bologna (Royal Philarmonic Academy of Bologna) Royal Decree, 3 February 1881.

The academicians were divided into three categories: Composers, Singers and Musicians and they regularly played music together. About fifty musicians among the most eminent of the century joined the Accademia in its first year of activity. At the meetings, held once a week, original pieces written by the academicians themselves were executed,often followed by theoretical discussions on the same. The Accademias opinion was often required on musical and theoretical matters and being a member of it was a greatly aimed for professional goal. On the 10 October 1711, Benedetto Marcello made respectful request for admission, submitting to the Accademia a mass composed in honour of Pope Clement XI. The admissions of the renown singer Farinelli (1730) and of Father Martini, eminent composer and teacher, stand out as symbolical and cultural key moments in the history of the Accademia in the second half of the 18th-century.

The staircase leading to the upper floors (1851)The fame of the Accademia soon spread out the national border and the number of requests for admission to the level of master composer grew remarkably. The young Mozart as well applied for the sought-after Philarmonic membership. Accompanied by his father Leopold, Mozart arrived in Bologna in 1770, to train in contrapuntal composition under the tutorship of Father Martini in order to gain the diploma as Kapellmeister. Mozart was awarded his diploma on the 9 October 1770 and was admitted alla forastiera ", thats to say in a particular section for not-resident members. The piece composed by the young Mozart is kept in the archive of the Accademia.

In 1798 the Directory of the Cisalpine Republic decreted that all the objects and musical memorabilia stored in the Accademia had to pass under the control of the Government Public Property and had to be stored in the building, now site of the State Conservatory. In 1804 the Philarmonic Gymnasium was solemnly opened and its first encharged teachers were chosen among the academicians. Later on a clear distinction between the Accademia and teaching activities was operated, that led to the creation of the G.B.Martini State Conservatory of Music. During the 19th-century the institution emphasized its role of honorary sodality, admitting artists of clear renown performing in Bologna. There has been also a great inflow of legacies, donations and musical collections, which constitute today, together with the oldest documents and scores already in the hands of the Accademia, its most valuable documentary patrimony. The life of the institution during the 19th-century is strictly connected with music history and the most relevant personalities of that time, such as: Rossini, Paer, Verdi, Boito, Brahms, Wagner, Puccini, Liszt, Martucci, Sgambati, Busoni.

The roof of the central room in the museum, frescoed with musical motifs and figuresThe 20th-century found the Accademia celebrating important dates in music history: the centenary of Wagners Lohengrin's first italian performance (held in Bologna in 1871) and Wagners admission as academician in 1876. After the end of Second World War, the activities of the Accademia started again providing dense concert programmes, promoted by various presidents, many of them fine musicians themselves. Franco Alfano, Luigi Ferrari-Trecate, Sergiu Celibidache, just to mention some. The institution continues presently its tradition of acknowledgement and certification of excellence in the field of music, awarding honorary membership to some of the finest and most brilliant personalities of the international musical world, such as Claudio Abbado, Ruggero Raimondi, Luciano Chailly, Nino Sonzogno, just to mention a few.

Today the Accademia, headed by M. Fulvio Angius, improves fruition and making of music, through concert seasons, cycles of introductory sessions for a better understanding of music, master-classes, meetings on musicology and exhibitions arranged in the halls of the museum located on the third floor.

Prior aim of all the activities of the Accademia remains the preservation and appreciation of the most precious archive,now submitted to an updated classification and which will be put online in the next two years.
Contact & Information
Secretary's Office
Via Guerrazzi,13
40125 Bologna
Tel. +39 051 222997
Fax +39 051 224104
Via Guerrazzi,13
40125 Bologna
Tel. +39 6486261
Fax +39 051 224104

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