Birthplace of the modern-day musical performance

Piazza di Spagna, From the collection of: Youth Committee of the Italian National Commission for UNESCO
Piazza di Spagna and its acoustics
Piazza di Spagna has perfect acoustics. Orchestral music as we know it today was born in this very square, in 1687. Here, for the first time in musical history, a large group of musicians performed the same score for a large audience, surrounded by breathtaking scenery, both natural and artificial (fireworks). There were no barriers between the music and the audience, or between the stage and the “parterre”.
Piazza di Spagna, From the collection of: Youth Committee of the Italian National Commission for UNESCO

The perfect acoustics of Piazza di Spagna are due to its unique shape, which makes it a perfect architectural sounding board.

John Phillips, 1947-12, From the collection of: LIFE Photo Collection
Piazza di Spagna, From the collection of: Youth Committee of the Italian National Commission for UNESCO
The birth of the modern-day musical performance
Piazza di Spagna, From the collection of: Youth Committee of the Italian National Commission for UNESCO
In 1687, Piazza di Spagna hosted two great festivities. One was to celebrate the healing of King Louis XIV from a long illness, the other to celebrate the name day of the Queen of Spain, Maria Luisa of Bourbon. Before this turning point, live music had been a “private affair”, hence the name “chamber music”.
Piazza di Spagna, From the collection of: Youth Committee of the Italian National Commission for UNESCO
Piazza di Spagna, From the collection of: Youth Committee of the Italian National Commission for UNESCO

In August 1687, the Spanish ambassador arranged a serenade for 5 voices and 80 instruments for the queen’s name day in Piazza di Spagna.

Piazza di Spagna, From the collection of: Youth Committee of the Italian National Commission for UNESCO

It was a way to respond to the French, who - in April of that year - had celebrated the healing of their king with a superb serenade in the Trinità dei Monti.

Arcangelo Corelli leading a serenata at Piazza di Spagna, Christofor Schor, From the collection of: Youth Committee of the Italian National Commission for UNESCO

The orchestras were “modern” in several respects: the musicians played as a single body, arranged in tiers, and performed facing the public.

Piazza di Spagna, From the collection of: Youth Committee of the Italian National Commission for UNESCO

In Piazza di Spagna, the way we listen to music and interact with it was changed forever.

Credits: Story

Exhibition edited by Youth Committee of the Italian Commission for UNESCO - Lazio: Antonio Geracitano, Marco Anzellotti, Vittoria Azzarita, Andrea Bangrazi, Ilaria Cacciotti, Francesca Candelini, Giovanni Cedrone, Carlotta Destro, Caterina Francesca Di Giovanni, Alessandra Feola, Paolo Ianniccari, Marta Lelli, Laura Leopardi, Ginevra Odone, Dario Saltari, Paolo Scipioni.


Photo credits "Arcangelo Corelli leading a serenata at Piazza di Spagna": https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Arcangelo_Corelli_regendo_uma_serenata_na_Piazza_di_Spagna.jpg

Youth Committee of the Italian National Commission for UNESCO

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Home
Explore
Nearby
Profile