The Accademia Musicale Chigiana, thanks to its particular origins and the model of culture and of valuing and promoting music that it has represented in the past century and continues to represent, it is internationally recognized still today as one of Italy’s most prestigious musical institutions.
The establishment of the Academy was the most characteristic and distinctive of the ideas implemented by Count Chigi, the Sienese nobleman who not only made his home the center of intense musical activity but also, with his personal initiatives, succeeded in transforming the atmosphere of his beloved city, contributing in this way to opening it up and welcoming people from all over the world. Because it was mainly foreign students who came to Siena in 1932 to take part in the first course in musical training held in Palazzo Chigi, taught by prestigious musicians such as Fernando Germani for organ, Claude Gonvierre (and later Casella) for piano, Giulia Varesi Boccabadati for voice, Ada Sassoli Ruata for harp, Arrigo Serato for violin, Arturo Bonucci for cello, and Vito Frazzi for composition. Over the years, the number of students coming from every continent gradually grew, today representing about fifty nations, and the number of master classes increased in an ongoing exchange between older and younger generations as students became teachers and an integral part of the history of the Academy, whose classrooms have welcomed the best in international music.
Besides the master classes, which were preceded from as early as 1923 by a winter concert season that continues still today, named after the Chigi family motto Micat in Vertice, the Academy is also synonymous with the Settimana Musicale Senese, a weeklong festival which takes its place in the more extended concert season of the Estate Chigiana (“Chigiana Summer”).
Among the most important musical events connected with Count Chigi Saracini, especially outstanding was his willingness to host in 1928 the Sixth Festival of the Società Internazionale di Musica Contemporanea. This was the occasion for the world premiere of music by Prokofiev, Walton, Casella, Ravel, Webern, Hindemithm and De Falla, who personally participated in the performance.
Noteworthy, too, are the famous ensembles that were formed over the years at the Academy, among them the Quintetto Chigiano in 1939 (which later became a sextet), the Quartetto Italiano in 1942, and the Madrigalisti dell’Accademia Chigiana in 1950.
Guido Chigi Saracini
Count Guido Chigi Saracini (Siena 1880-1965), after inheriting a huge fortune in 1906, immediately began using his resources to promote musical activity in his beloved city. Among the events organized by the Count, especially outstanding and important was the performance in 1913 of Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem Mass in the church of San Francesco. After the first world war ended, Count Guido devoted his efforts to remodeling Palazzo Chigi Saracini to make it more hospitable to the exigencies of music. The Concert Hall was inaugurated on 22 November 1923 with the first concert of the Micat in Vertice season. After establishing in 1932 the master classes that would make the Accademia Musicale Chigiana world-famous, the Count created the Settimana Musicale Senese festival in 1939, taking advantage of the invaluable advice of Alfredo Casella.