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2 The Neapolitan Conservatories

Identity, Formation, and Operation

In the past twenty years, scholars of early modern Italy have increasingly
explored Neapolitan instrumental genres.1 This research, nevertheless,
remains marginalized by a historiographic emphasis on vocal genres,
especially the dramatic stage and its preeminence in European practices.2
There is no question that instrumental music had been cultivated simul-
taneously with theatrical forms throughout the century, sharing similar
modes of refinement and clear stylistic and formal affinities. Despite these
factors of shared cultivation, however, Neapolitan instrumental music
ultimately took on marked differences in dissemination, patronage, and
even general interest. Therefore, broad-based questions about the
Neapolitan instrumental patrimony remain, highlighting the notable
lacuna within scholarship and preventing an accurate representation of
their significance.

See Cesare Fertonani, “Musica strumentale a Napoli nel Settecento,” in Storia della musica e dello
spettacolo a Napoli, ed. Francesco Cotticelli and Paologiovanni Maione, 2 vols. (Naples: Turchini
edizioni, 2009), 2:925–963; Guido Olivieri, “Aggiunte a ‘La scuola musicale di Napoli di
F. Florimo’: i contratti dei figlioli della Pietà dei Turchini nei protocolli notarili (1677–1713),” in
Francesco Florimo e l’Ottocento musicale, ed. Rosa Cafiero and Marina Marino, 2 vols. (Reggio
Calabria: Jason editrice, 1999), 2:717–752; Lucio Tufano, “Il mestiere del musicista: formazione,
mercato, consapevolezza, immagine,” in Storia della musica e dello spettacolo a Napoli, ed.
Cotticelli and Maione, 2:733–771.
See Michael F. Robinson, Naples and Neapolitan Opera (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972;
reprint New York: Da Capo Press, 1985). See also Francesco Cotticelli and Paologiovanni
Maione, Onesto divertimento ed allegria de’ popoli. Materiali per una storia dello spettacolo a
Napoli nel primo Settecento (Milan: Ricordi, 1996); Cotticelli and Maione, eds., Storia della
musica e dello spettacolo a Napoli; Francesco Cotticelli and Paologiovanni Maione, Le istituzioni
musicali a Napoli durante il viceregno austriaco (1707–1734). Materiali inediti sulla Real Cappella
ed il Teatro di S. Bartolomeo (Naples: Luciano editore, 1993); Benedetto Croce, I teatri di Napoli
(Naples: Pierro, 1891); Girolamo Imbruglia, ed., Naples in the Eighteenth Century: The Birth and
Death of a Nation State (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000); Lorenzo Bianconi and
Giorgio Pestelli, eds., The History of Italian Opera (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998).
For more concise topic studies, see Francesco Degrada, “‘Scuola napoletana’ e ‘opera napoletana’:
nascita, sviluppo e prospettive di un concetto storiografico,” in Il Teatro di San Carlo, ed. Franco
Mancini, 3 vols. (Naples: Electa Napoli, 1987), 2:9–20; Anthony R. DelDonna, “Opera in
Naples,” in The Cambridge Companion to Eighteenth-Century Opera, ed. Pierpaolo Polzonetti
and Anthony R. DelDonna (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 214–232. 27

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28 The Neapolitan Conservatories: Identity, Formation, and Operation

These questions cannot be approached simply, and remain limited by

access and the incomplete status of materials within the varied Neapolitan
institutions.3 Nevertheless, there are diverse extant sources (archival,
musical, and a body of past academic research) that can be coordinated
to construct a partial narrative of instrumental music culture at the end of
the eighteenth century. One of the principal foundations for that culture
was supplied by the educational system of the Neapolitan conservatories.4
Rather than a critical investigation of their (well-known) histories, this
chapter elucidates an understanding of their cultural, social, and educa-
tional identities, forming a holistic portrait of these establishments. To do
so, several areas of operation are examined – including the institutional
culture, the admission process, the financial operation (in brief ), and the
basic training of students, as well as particular reference to responsibilities
and opportunities geared toward artistic formation. The specific pedagogies
of the conservatories’ academic training – namely the vital roles of solfeg-
gio and partimento methods – are addressed in Chapter 3.

Institutional Culture

The institutional qualities of the Neapolitan conservatories resonate pro-

foundly in the dedication to an early eighteenth-century libretto, Il zelo

The principal repository for instrumental music is the Biblioteca del Conservatorio San Pietro a
Majella. Although incomplete, the collection can be consulted at
The sources, historical and contemporary, on the Neapolitan conservatories include Francesco
Florimo, La scuola musicale di Napoli e i suoi conservatori, 4 vols. (Naples: Vincenzo Morano,
1880–1883; reprint Bologna: Arnaldo Forni editore, 2002); Salvatore Di Giacomo, I quattro
antichi conservatorii musicali di Napoli, 2 vols. (Naples: Remo Sandron Editore, 1924); Rosa
Cafiero, “Conservatories and the Neapolitan School: A European Model at the End of the
Eighteenth-Century?,” in Musical Education in Europe (1770–1914): Compositional,
Institutional, and Political Challenges, ed. Michael Fend and Michel Noiray, vol. 1 (Berlin: Berlin
Wissenschafts-Verlag, 2005), 15–29; Rossella Del Prete, “La trasformazione di un istituto
benefico-assistenziale in scuola di musica: una lettura dei libri contabili del Conservatorio di
S. Maria di Loreto di Napoli (1506–1703),” in Francesco Florimo e l’Ottocento musicale, ed.
Cafiero and Marino, 2:671–715; Rossella Del Prete, “Un’azienda musicale a Napoli tra
Cinquecento e Settecento: il Conservatorio della Pietà dei Turchini,” Storia economica 2 (1999):
413–445; Rosa Cafiero, “Note su un regolamento del ‘Venerabile Conservatorio di S. Maria della
Colonna detto de’ Poveri di Gesù Cristo’ (1728),” in Leonardo Vinci e il suo tempo. Atti dei
convegno (Reggio Calabria, 10-12 giugno 2002 e 4-5 giugno 2004), edited by Gaetano Pitarresi
(Reggio Calabria: Iiriti, 2005), 243–280; Charles Burney, The Present State of Music in France and
Italy, 2nd edn. (London: Becket & Company, 1773; facsimile edition New York: Broude, 1969);
Olivieri, “Aggiunte a ‘La scuola musicale di Napoli di F. Florimo’,” 717–752; Tufano, “Il mestiere
del musicista,” 733–771.

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Institutional Culture 29

animato, produced to demonstrate the formation of students and the need

for continued support.5 It reads (in part):

The charitable endowment which such an individual exercises towards his citizens
obliges us to recognize wholeheartedly the debt that we have toward our benefac-
tor; therefore we, who are beyond measure obliged to recognize your benevolence
for the protection that you grant to the Conservatory where we are educated,
hence, all of us, desiring to express in an appropriate manner toward your most
worthy person the gratitude for the many benefits that your generosity provides to
us, wish to present to you this opera that through your auspices will be performed
in our Conservatory, because our poverty does not allow us to do so in a more
appropriate manner. Moreover, as it is custom to dedicate books to renowned and
illustrious persons, so as to procure them a powerful and distinguished protector,
to whom, if not to you, must we dedicate this humble opera, while when one thinks
of your great person, we can see how you are adorned with the most admirable
qualities that are befitting of those great men whom not every century is privileged
to witness. If one has cognizance of your erudition and extensive knowledge, it is
evident to see how there is not a discipline in which you are not admired, most
gifted cavalier. If lastly one trusts your rectitude in judging others with justice, a
man neither more fair, nor more wise have our courts ever admired, including
those of the Kingdoms of Catalonia and of Sicily with the Imperial Court of Vienna
in the numerous and most decorous responsibilities exercised by you with highest
distinction. It is not for us to eulogize your great virtue; therefore, most illustrious
Lord, begging you to enjoy this our most humble offering with that benevolence
that unites all the other virtues of your character and to continue to demonstrate
toward us the acts of your charitable protection, we are honored to sign this

Of Your Illustrious Lordship’s

The most humble and devoted servants,
The students of the Santa Maria di Loreto Conservatory6

Il zelo animato (Naples: Giovanni Francesco Paci, 1733), Libretto RARI 10.10.19 (9), Biblioteca
del Conservatorio San Pietro a Majella, Naples. See also Francesco Mancini, Il zelo animato
ovvero Il Gran Profeta Elia, score 1733 Rari 28.3.13 Biblioteca del Conservatorio San Pietro a
Majella, Naples; Anthony DelDonna, “An Eighteenth Century Musical Education: Francesco
Mancini’s Il zelo animato (1733),” Recercare 19 (2007): 205–219; Angela Romagnoli, “Mancini,
Francesco,” Grove Music Online, 2001,
.17594; Angela Romagnoli, “Mancini, Francesco,” in Dizionario biografico degli Italiani, vol. 68
(Rome: Istituto dell’Enciclopedia Italiana, 2007); Cotticelli and Maione, Le istituzioni musicali a
Napoli durante il viceregno austriaco.
Il zelo animato, 2–3: “La benefica providenza che tal uno essercita verso i suoi Sudditi obliga
questi a riconoscere con grato animo il debbito che conservano verso il loro Benefattore; Onde
noi, che oltremodo tenuti ci conosciamo alla Vostra benignità per la protezione che tener vi
degnate del Conservatorio, dove siamo educati, ed in consequenza di tutti noi, desiderando di

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30 The Neapolitan Conservatories: Identity, Formation, and Operation

Undersigned by the students of the oldest conservatory of the city, the

Santa Maria di Loreto, in 1733, the dedication provides vivid insight into
the operational culture and foundation of that institution in the early
eighteenth century. The frequent references to charity, beneficence, and
common good are implicit references to the past and contemporary (that
is, eighteenth-century) religious and secular frameworks of the conserva-
tory. There is also an evident political shrewdness to the dedication:
namely, the references to the larger forces of Spain and Austria that not
only controlled the fate of the establishment but also continued to compete
for rule of Naples itself.
Despite political upheavals, the primary intention of institutions such as
the Santa Maria di Loreto remained the spiritual formation and education
of the students. This desired outcome reflects the establishment of all four
conservatories and their creation as manifestations of the social policies of
the Catholic Church, whose initiatives were not exclusive to the conserva-
tories but shared by multiple institutions in Naples. The city, like many
other large European cities, witnessed a significant rise in immigration in
the early modern period.7 And, like other urban localities, it was ill
equipped to accommodate the influx of new arrivals; it had neither crafted
social policy regarding the welfare of new residents nor addressed the
significant and rising issue of endemic poverty. There were, however,
clearly articulated views on the civic nature of poverty and its impact on

appalesare in un coll’osservanza grandissima verso la Vostra degnissima Persona, la gratitudine a

tanti beneficj, che a larga mano ci compartite, lo facciamo con presentarvi il presente
Melodrama, che dovrà nel nostro Conservatorio sotto i Vostri auspicij rappresentarsi, Giacchè la
nostra povertà ci niega di poterle in miglior modo manifestare. Oltre di ciò, essendo solito
dedicarsi i libri a Personaggi rinomati, ed Illustri affine di procurarli un possente e ragguardevole
difensore, a chi mai, se non a Voi doveasi la presente Operetta dedicare, mentre se si pon mente
al Vostro grand’Animo, lo veggiamo di tutte le belle qualità adorno, che si convengono a quei
grand’Uomini, de’ quali non ogni Secolo è spettatore; Se si ha riguardo alla Vostra dottrina, e
varia letteratura, non vi è scienza, nella quale non siate ammirato, Addottrinatissimo Cavaliere; E
se per ultimo si confidera la Vostra rettitudine nel rendere altrui ragione, uomo né più giusto, né
più saggio giammai hanno ammirato, non solo i nostri Tribunali, ma ancora quelli del Regno di
Catalogna, e di Sicilia con l’Imperial Corte di Vienna nelle molte, e decorevolissime cariche da
Voi con tanta lode essercitate? Ma non è per noi il far Elogi al Vostro gran merito, quindi,
Illustrissimo Signore, pregandovi a gradire questa debolissima nostra offerta con quella benignità
che unita con tutte l’altre virtù fanno il Vostro Carattere, ed a continuare verso di noi gl’atti della
vostra benefica protezione, ci diamo l’onore di sottoscriverci. Di V. S. Ill. Umiliss. e devotiss.
servitori. Li figliuoli del Regal Conservatorio di S. Maria di Loreto.”
For information on feudal power in the kingdom, see Tommaso Astarita, The Continuity of
Feudal Power: The Caracciolo of Brienza in Spanish Naples (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1992); see also Maria Grazia Maiorini, “The Capital and Provinces,” in Naples in the
Eighteenth Century, ed. Imbruglia, 4–22.

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Institutional Culture 31

contemporary society. As early as 1586, a royal edict distinguished the

“honest poor” from the “idle vagabond,” a dichotomy aimed clearly at the
preservation of social order.8 Given the dearth of political policy (beyond
this simple bifurcation), the Catholic Church increasingly filled the void of
assistance to address the rising number of residents in poverty.
A substantial number of entities devoted to the poor emerged in early
modern Naples – including ospedali, congregations, confraternities, reli-
gious orders, and many others, in addition to the burgeoning
conservatories.9 The shared charism of faith and charity professed by these
groups extended to and often overlapped in their ultimate objective: the
provision of the means to acquire a living in the future, through the
acquisition of a trade or a skill. The coalescence around this central aim
was progressive, as it inherently focused on the future generation, specific-
ally children.
Although steeped in the Catholic Church and its varied identities, the
administrative oversight of the conservatories remained in the hands of a
secular entity. Each institution was entrusted to a “president” and a board
of six governors, appointed annually (although often serving multiple
terms), who were nominated by the districts in which each conservatory
was located. The office of the viceroy (either Spanish or Austrian) con-
firmed their positions.10 The individual governors focused on all areas of
management, including physical infrastructure (maintenance, repair, con-
struction), economic resources (revenue, investments, donations), and legal
issues (individual or collective relating to the State). The careful language of
the dedication cited earlier, addressed to the president of the Santa Maria di
Loreto, Don Francesco Solanes, builds toward a pointed supplication of
protection and intercession in the concluding sentence (see earlier cit-
ation). The clear reference to the temporal power of Solanes is of signifi-
cance, being calculated to secure fiscal privileges and financial support for
the institution. These nuances are carefully juxtaposed with references to
“benevolence” and “charity,” terms more often evoking religious ideals.
There is also the persuasive allusion to the concept of a “symbolic
exchange,” which embodied virtually all patronage between the poor and
their benefactors in the early modern period. Specifically, the protection

Del Prete, “Un’azienda musicale a Napoli,” 414.
Marta Columbro and Eloisa Intini, “Congregazioni e corporazioni di musici a Napoli tra Sei e
Settecento,” Rivista Italiana di Musicologia 33 (1998): 41–76.
See Michael F. Robinson, “The Governors’ Minutes of the Conservatory S. Maria Di Loreto,
Naples,” Royal Music Association Research Chronicle 10 (1972): 1–97.

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32 The Neapolitan Conservatories: Identity, Formation, and Operation

and patronage of Solanes, as with an endowment or financial contribution,

eventually bears fruit in the musical education of the students, who are
then able to acknowledge the gift by virtue of demonstrating their acquired
skills in the performance of the opera. It was the acquisition of life skills –
whether music, a trade, or another discipline, grounded in charity and
Christian faith – that embodied the mission of every benevolent organiza-
tion in early modern Naples.
As Robinson and others have noted, the conservatories were sprawling
establishments whose complex bureaucracies were charged with the edu-
cational (academic, religious, and musical), social, and physical provision
of their students. Indeed, the president and governors represented only a
single layer of each establishment. The daily and direct supervision of these
institutions rested customarily in the hands of the clergy (reflecting their
origins), holding well-defined administrative positions.11 Among the sur-
viving documents from the Pietà dei Turchini are three sets of regole from
1728, 1746, and 1769 (the first two therefore contemporary with the
libretto from the Santa Maria di Loreto).12 These institutional policies
illuminate varied facets of operation, providing notable insight into the
daily administration and life of a conservatory. The regole present in detail
the expected modes of behavior from students, in addition to outlining in
broad strokes their religious formation and education.13
Created to address ongoing issues in conduct, the Regole of 1728 open
with a focus on the duties of personnel, beginning with the rector and vice-
rector, who served under the president and governors but held consider-
able oversight of the institution. These members of the clergy were respon-
sible for the spiritual and physical well-being of the students (or figliuoli).
They imparted Christian values and the Regole required that each morning

See Robinson, “Governor’s Minutes,” for a discussion of the organizational hierarchy and
culture of the Santa Maria di Loreto institution.
The Regole of 1728 are reproduced in Cafiero, “Note su un regolamento,” 243–280. Those of
1746 are transcribed in Florimo, La scuola musicale di Napoli, 3:1–21. Those of 1769 are printed
in Vincenzo Mazzola-Vocola, Regole da osservarsi nel Real Conservatorio della Pietà de’
Torchini (Naples, 1769). I am grateful to Tommasina Boccia for her expertise and kind
assistance in accessing the original handwritten copies of the 1746 Regole in the Archivio del
Conservatorio San Pietro a Majella. See also her article, “Non solo note: il riordinamento
dell’Archivio del Real Conservatorio di Santa Maria di Loreto,” in Domenico Cimarosa: Un
“napoletano” in Europa, ed. Paologiovanni Maione and Marta Columbro, 2 vols. (Lucca: LIM,
2004), 2:642–663.
The regole take the form of individual chapters, each outlining specific areas of policy. See
Cafiero, “Note su un regolamento,” 243–280. Boccia has also found those regole that survive
within the materials (in this case, “conclusioni”) of the Santa Maria di Loreto Conservatory. See
Boccia, “Non solo note,” 659–662.

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Institutional Culture 33

start with the singing of the psalm “Laudate pueri Dominum” (led by a
priest called the “prefect”), followed by communal, meditative prayer (an
orazione mentale) for thirty minutes.14 The regole note repeatedly that
there is to be “no playing, no singing, nor any other studying or work
before the meditative prayer, but only the reading of a devout or spiritual
book, approved and acknowledged by the Rector.”15 The orazione mentale,
outlined in the appendix of the Regole of 1728, began with the hymn “Veni
creator spiritus,” followed by a general prayer/supplication and a series of
acclamations upon which to meditate. In a similar manner, each day ended
with an “examination of conscience,” repeating the same hymn and medi-
tative points. These pillars of catechism were intended to focus the students
on their surroundings and the religious framework of their education. The
1746 Regole affirm the earlier set by stressing the frequent reception of
communion and the sacrament of penance. They also provide a detailed
guide to the practice of the Spiritual Exercises developed by the Society of
Jesus (the Jesuits), which were to be observed once a year for a period of
eight consecutive days.16 The Exercises are a series of prayers, meditations,
reflections, and directions that take the shape of a spiritual retreat. The
annual commitment was intended to reinforce the spiritual parameters of
the institution, but it was not exclusive to the conservatories, as other
charitable establishments had similar requirements of devotional prayer.
The Regole also stress formation as a critical prerequisite to admission.
For example, the Regole of 1746 begin with a broad preamble underling the
ecclesiastical nature and religious orientation of the institution, continuing
the focus on discipline: in particular, their “primary scope and principal
end . . . to place into practice the Doctrine of Incarnate Wisdom, Jesus
Christ, imparted to us through the words of St. Matthew, at the beginning
of Chapter 8 of his Gospel.”17 Each potential supplicant is also advised: “to
those who want to be admitted among the students of this conservatory

The Regole of 1728 provide the morning prayers in full: see Cafiero, “Note su un
regolamento,” 252ff.
Ibid., 252: “non permettendo né suono, né canto, né altro studio, o esercizio prima
dell’orazione mentale; ma solo la lettura di qualche libro divoto e spirituale, da lui
riconosciuto ed approvato.”
Florimo, La scuola musicale di Napoli, 3:12. For an excellent concise summary on the Spiritual
Exercises, see John O’Malley, The First Jesuits (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press,
1993); also Joseph A. Tetlow, Ignatius Loyola: Spiritual Exercises (New York: The Crossroad
Publishing Company, 1992).
Florimo, La scuola musicale di Napoli, 3:7: “mettere in prattica quella Dottrina dell’Incarnata
Sapienza, Christo Gesù, insegnataci per bocca del S. Evangelista Matteo, nel Capo decim’ottavo
del suo Vangelo.”

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34 The Neapolitan Conservatories: Identity, Formation, and Operation

one must make first an offering of himself to God, and to the Most Blessed
Virgin our Lady, under whose protection is founded this Conservatory.”18
Therefore, new students had to be in good religious standing, and, if
accepted, they were expected to participate immediately in the sacraments
of confession and communion in the affiliated church.19 Given these
emphases, spiritual formation represented a crucial element of their
education and preparation for professional life.

The Admission Process

Students who wished to enter any of the conservatories were required to

adhere to basic standards: social, religious, and, increasingly by the begin-
ning of the eighteenth century, musical. Potential figliuoli were to be of
good moral character, to be baptized, and to have a sponsor, preferably a
parent, but often also a member of the clergy or someone to act as a
guarantor. A fundamental difference between the conservatories and other
charitable institutions centered on the requirement that aspiring musicians
had a contractual obligation.20 As Guido Olivieri has revealed, each con-
servatory retained notaries who prepared all contractual agreements, which
were registered annually at the entrance of students.21 The notaries also
prepared related administrative and legal documents pertaining to the
operation of the conservatories.22
Among the more complete surviving notices from an index of students
enrolled at the Turchini Conservatory traced to the early part of the
century (1711) is the following summary:

Del Duca, Gennaro: Witnessed by Donato Giacomo Del Duca from the [province
of Pietro Costanzo of the Province] of Abruzzo Ultra, and Matteo de Sinno of
Naples, agent and guarantor to the following underwritten . . . they have promised

Ibid., 3:8: “Ciascuno che vuole essere ammesso fra gl’Alunni di questo Conservatorio facci
prima un holocausto di se stesso à Dio, ed alla Beatissima Vergine nostra Signora, sotto la di cui
protezzione è fondato questo Conservatorio.”
Sources cite basic moral criteria required of new students; once they had been admitted, there
was a Mass marking their formal entrance into the conservatory. Florimo describes this process
in detail: see La scuola musicale di Napoli, 9–10.
Olivieri, “Aggiunte a ‘La scuola musicale di Napoli di F. Florimo’,” 717–752. Of particular
importance is the surviving contract transcribed by Olivieri in ibid., 726–727.
Olivieri’s research is based on surviving documents from the notary Felice d’Attano in the
Archivio di Stato di Napoli. See ibid., 719.
Olivieri provides the registration summaries of all students entering the Turchini Conservatory
in the years 1677–1706. See ibid., app. II, 728–752.

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The Admission Process 35

to provide and remit here in Naples to the Royal Conservatory of Santa Maria della
Pietà de’ Figlioli Torchini of this city . . . each year from this day forward 25 ducats
over two semesters . . . And during the education of Gennaro de Duca, son of the
aforementioned Giacomo, [he will be] received as a “convittore” of this Royal
Conservatory . . . To this end, this conservatory will be held to provide for the same
Gennaro food, drink, and everything else that is provided to the students of this
conservatory and to teach him music, in accordance with his capacity to learn.
November 28, 1711.23

This action of admission elucidates the complex mechanism of adminis-

tration and education, and even the continued transformation of the
Turchini itself. The student in question, Gennaro Del Duca, who hailed
from “Abruzzo Ultra,” a province of the Neapolitan kingdom, was repre-
sented by his parental guardian (to prove that he was not illegitimate). Yet
a guarantor is also specified – in this case, De Sinno – who was in all
likelihood a local merchant and benefactor of Del Duca as well as the
conservatory. Del Duca’s annual tuition is specified (in the Neapolitan
currency of ducats24), in return for which he would receive board,

Ibid., app. II, 752: “Del Duca, Gennaro: Costitui in presentia nostra Donato Giacomo del Duca
della Terra di Pietro Costanzo della Pietrv d’Apruzzo Ultra, e Matteo de Sinno de Napoli, agenti
et Intervenienti alle cose infrascritte . . . hanno promesso di dare e pagare qui in Napoli al Regal
Conservatorio di S[an]ta Maria della Pietà de’ figlioli torchini di questa città . . . ogn’anno da
hoggi avanti numerando doc.ti venticinque in due semestri . . . E questo durate l’educatione di
Gennaro de Duca, figlio del d.o Giacomo ricevuto per convittore nel d.o Regal Conservatorio d.
o Regal Conservatorio . . . All’incontro sia tenuto d.o Regal Conservatorio durante la sud.a
educatione del d.o [detto] Gennaro nel d.o [detto] Conservatorio di dare al medesimo Gennaro
a mangiare, bere, et ogn’altro che si dona alli figlioli del d.o Conservatorio e farli imparare di
Musica, conforme la capacità del suo ingegno. In data 28/11/1711.”
The standard currency and denomination for the Kingdom of Naples was the ducat (ducato).
A single ducat could be divided into 5 tarì, further into 10 carlini, and finally into 100 grana.
These currencies were eventually replaced in the nineteenth century by the national standard of
the lira. Allowing for inflation and cost-of-living adjustments, a single ducat from 1770 was
equivalent to 4.37 lire in 1860, 10,472 lire in 1988, and 42,900 lire in 2000. The conversion to the
Euro currency in Italy occurred in 1999; the subsequent exchange rate was imposed as 1 Euro
equaling 1,936.27 lire. Therefore, 42,900 lire in 2000 convert to 22.16 Euros in 2001,
approximately 35 Euros in 2004, and 31.61 Euros in 2009. Based on the exchange rate in August
2018, 35.56 Euros are the equivalent of 41.23 USD. These rates of conversion are derived from
Domenico DeMarco, “Per la storia dell’artigianato a Napoli: una ricca fonte documentale,” in
L’artigianato in Campania ieri ed oggi, ed. Francesco Balletta (Naples: Istituto italiano per la
storia delle imprese, 1991), 107. I am also grateful to Takasi Yamada and Dinko Fabris for
helping me access this information and sharing their research to determine these equivalents.
See Takasi Yamada, “L’attività e la strategia di Gennaro Blanchi, impresario dei teatri napoletani
nella seconda metà del Settecento. Interpretazione del suo sistema di gestione dalle scritture
dell’Archivio Storico dell’Istituto Banco di Napoli-Fondazione,” in Quaderni dell’archivio
storico (Naples: Istituto Banco di Napoli Fondazione, 2004), 95–133. For a history of the
Neapolitan banks and their organizational structures, see Paola Avallone, “The Utilisation of

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36 The Neapolitan Conservatories: Identity, Formation, and Operation

lodging, other material needs,25 and, most significantly, his musical

Del Duca’s distinction as a convittore is of particular import and docu-
ments the ongoing transformation of the establishments themselves. As the
fame of the Neapolitan conservatories continued to grow, their adminis-
trators welcomed students who were neither orphans nor indigent but
rather fee-paying individuals (as clearly noted in Del Duca’s registration
notice). Indeed, a system emerged that placed students into one of two
categories: orfani and convittori. The former were required to serve their
respective institutions (for the receipt of room, board, and instruction),
underlining that these individuals had come from less than ideal circum-
stances and were often sponsored by clergy, reflecting the social goals of the
Catholic Church. The convittori were students who were admitted through
an audition and then paid the institution for the same services. The annual
fee varied at each of the conservatories: for example, Del Prete has con-
sulted materials pertaining to the Turchini and has documented the fee
structure for convittori as sixty ducats for foreigners, forty ducats for
subjects of the Kingdom of Naples, and thirty ducats for Neapolitans, to
which an entrance fee of twelve ducats was added.26 Given this range of
fees and the modest circumstances of students, guarantors such as De
Sinno were a necessary reality. The fees themselves, however, did fluctuate
according to the institution and were often tied to personal economics.
A brief consultation of the registration entries provided by Olivieri
reveals broader facts about the student body (whether convittori or orfani) –
such as the age at entrance, the length of stay, and other germane matters.
The documents note that students entering ranged in age from seven or
eight years old to teenage. They also stipulate periods of service ranging
from four to ten years, with extensions possible to as long as twelve years.
In some cases, older, more experienced students were retained to help in
various capacities, whether as teaching assistants or because of their

Human Resources in Banking during the Eighteenth Century: The Case of Public Banks in the
Kingdom of Naples,” Financial History Review 6 (October 1999): 111–125; Paola Avallone,
“Paper Money in the Kingdom of Naples: The Public Banks between the XVI and XVIII
Centuries” (paper presented at XIV International Economic History Congress, Helsinki, 2006).
All conservatory students wore specific uniforms, and essentials (as noted in the contract) were
provided to them. The regole mention the provision of music paper, and surviving financial
records note the acquisition of strings from local instrument makers, as well as other essentials.
See Florimo, La scuola musicale di Napoli, 3:19.
Del Prete, “Un’azienda musicale a Napoli,” 435. The Regole of 1769 also make note of an
entrance fee of 12 ducats. See Mazzola-Vocola, Regole, IV.

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The Admission Process 37

abilities to earn money for the institutions from outside engagements. The
registration index further indicates whether the individual was a vocalist or
instrumentalist. For example, the index from the year 1700 includes
“Bonelli, Giovanni: from Palermo, eunuch, of around 17 years of age,
orphan, obligates himself for 3 years as musico. Guaranteed by . . .
Captain Giuseppe Lombardo. July 10, 1700.”27 What is of interest here is
Bonelli’s age (seventeen), the limited years of service, and his status as a
musico (this term generally, but not always, signified a castrato).28 Given
that Bonelli was older than most students at entry, his musical formation
was already advanced, and his status as an orfano meant that he would
serve in performance outside the conservatory to generate income for its
continued operation. The original entry includes the key phrase “ha pleg-
giato il Capitano Giuseppe Lombardo.” The pleggio was a financial guaran-
tee, generally around 50 ducats, provided by an individual sponsor or even a
bank, which served to offset initial expenses incurred for each student who
entered as an orfano.29 The significant number of sponsors who were
members of the clergy may suggest that the individual students in question
had made a vocational commitment to the Church. A religious vocation was
considered to be more profitable for these institutions, as the person in
question then served in a dual capacity as clergy and musician. Other entries
document the entrance of instrumentalists, such as “Maldotti, Nicola: of Bari
who obligates himself for four years as a musico who plays the violin.”30
Once students were admitted, their daily lives were meticulously regi-
mented toward their formal studies, including traditional academic sub-
jects, music, religion, and service (primarily in the form of performances)

Olivieri, “Aggiunte a ‘La scuola musicale di Napoli di F. Florimo’,” 746, no. 218: “Bonelli,
Giovanni: di Palermo, eunuco, di anni 17 circa, orfano, si impegna per 3 anni come musico. Ha
pleggiato il Cap.n Giuseppe Lombardo. In data 10/7/1700.”
Among those mentioned in the registry list, there are a significant number of castrati. This may
reflect the high number of external performance commitments, which were frequently related to
the Catholic liturgy or other events within the environs of the Church. The regole also note that
the castrati resided separately from the general student population. See Cafiero, “Note su un
regolamento,” 243–280; Burney, The Present State of Music; Tufano, “Il mestiere del musicista,”
Financial documents from the late eighteenth century note the cost of uniforms and mattresses
for students, which may have been passed on to students in full or in part. See Giulia Di Dato,
Teresa Mautone, Maria Melchionne, and Carmela Petrarca, “Notizie dallo Spirito Santo: la vita
musicale a Napoli nelle carte bancarie (1776–1785),” in Domenico Cimarosa, ed. Maione and
Columbro, 2:843–844, entry 678.
Olivieri, “Aggiunte a ‘La scuola musicale di Napoli di F. Florimo’,” 747, no. 228: “Maldotti,
Nicola: [di Bari]: si impegna per 4 anni come musico che sona de violino. Agente il magnifico
Nicola Romano di Napoli, messo e internuntio del Francesco Madotti della città de Bari,
padre di Nicola Madotti. In data 23/2/1701.”

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38 The Neapolitan Conservatories: Identity, Formation, and Operation

within and outside the institution. A further consideration of the Regole

from 1746 to 1769 gives insights into the institutional culture of the
conservatory system, specifically the education provided to the students,
and their daily lives. Each morning, students were required to attend two
hours of instruction given by the “Maestro della Grammatica.” Although
the material imparted is not indicated beyond basic grammar and the
ability “to read and to write,” it is safe to surmise a basic yet broad
instruction in arts and letters, deduced from the fleeting reference to
Cicero.31 These lessons also entailed rudimentary training in liturgy, as
the regole note that students received instruction in “how to serve at
Mass.”32 Every Saturday, moreover, a formal gathering focused on catech-
ism after the midday meal, and this entailed that “all students learn from
the grammar teacher Christian Doctrine, according to the method pub-
lished by our Archbishop, which they must have in hand.”33 Almost as a
caveat to appease potential scrutiny, the Regole of 1746 remind students
that, “when dismissed by the grammar teacher, they are not permitted to
study music immediately, because [the lesson] would be forgotten . . .
which the master of grammar has taught them.”34 In contrast, the Regole
of 1769 note that students proceed directly to their respective music lessons
after their morning academic studies. However, “near the end of the music
lessons, the bell sounds, which brings everyone together to recite the third
part of the Rosary, which is called the ‘third mystery’.”35 The third set, or
“glorious” mysteries, focuses on the Resurrection, the Descent of the Holy
Spirit, and the Assumption of Mary. The recitation of the third mystery
represented a desired spiritual and social path forward for students.

Financial records from the late eighteenth century note the retention of maestri di scuola, in
particular Rev. Gerardo Marone (Loreto, 1783–1785) and Rev. Nicola Carabattese. See Di Dato,
et al., “Notizie dallo Spirito Santo,” 843, entry 666.
Florimo, La scuola musicale di Napoli, 3:13 and 17–18. The regole do note that those students
interested in an ecclesiastical vocation will study the Council of Trent and the Roman
Ibid., 3:13: “tutti ascoltano dal Maestro della Grammatica la Dottrina Christiana, giusta il
Metodo di quella fatta stampare dal nostro Arcivescovo, quale tutti dovrebbero havere per le
mani.” The referenced catechism source was in all likelihood a spiritual tome written by the
Jesuit Catholic saint and professor of theology Cardinal Roberto Bellarmino (1542–1621),
strengthening ties between the conservatories and the Society of Jesus.
Ibid., 3:13: “Licentiati dal Maestro della Grammatica, non si mettano subbito a studiare la
Musica, perché sarrebbe haver perduto il tempo nella Scuola [. . .], su ciò che gl’ha insegnato il
Maestro della Grammatica.” The following paragraph laments that the time for instruction is
itself simply insufficient.
Mazzola-Vocola, Regole, V: “Circa il fine della lezione di musica, si suoni il campanello, che
convochi tutti a recitare una terza parte del Rosario, del quale quando sarà detto il terzo

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Training: The Role of the Maestri 39

Training: The Role of the Maestri

By 1746, as confirmed in the regole’s ensuing policies about instruction, the

Turchini and its local counterparts had become full-fledged schools of
music. As in the administration of the conservatory, there was a hierarchy
in the organization of musical instruction. At the top of this order, each
institution engaged two maestri di cappella: the primo and secondo (also
referenced as vice), who were, by custom, established composers in Naples
and graduates of the same system. The latter stipulation ensured continuity
in methodology and instruction. An archival entry notes the engagement of
the renowned Nicola Porpora, himself a conservatory graduate, to replace
the equally celebrated Francesco Mancini as maestro di cappella, stating:

Mancini lived until 1739, in that year he passed on to a better life; on June 11th
Niccolò Porpora was elected primo maestro, given that he was well known
throughout Europe, with the responsibility of giving the students lessons in
singing, playing, and counterpoint on the days and times established and to be
held to do any compositions which will be asked of him, etc.: with the stipend of
10 ducats per month, which was also the salary of Mancini.36

The reputation of Porpora beyond the walls of the conservatory and even
the city of Naples is emphasized by the phrase acknowledging that he is
“well known throughout Europe.” The governors of the conservatory
clearly did not limit their vision of the institution to local circles, which
speaks to the status of the Neapolitan schools on the continent.37 It is also
significant that the governors included the detail that Porpora was paid the
same amount as his predecessor, Mancini.
Not all primi maestri were treated the same in terms of compensation.
For example, Carlo Cotumacci (1709–1783?), a graduate of the Neapolitan
conservatory system himself and subsequently primo maestro at the
Sant’Onofrio in the late eighteenth century, was not well paid: he received

Ausilia Magaudda and Danilo Costantini, Musica e spettacolo nel Regno di Napoli attraverso lo
spoglio della Gazzetta (1675–1768) (Rome: Ismez editore, 2009), 596, n. 1419: “visse il Mancini
sino al 1739, nel quale anno sendo egli passato a miglior vita, agli 11 giugno fu eletto Niccolò
Porpora primo maestro, per essere egli riputato tale in tutta l’Europa, con l’obbligo di dar
lezione ai figlioli di cantare, suonare e contropunto [sic] ne’ giorni ed ore stabilite e con l’esser
tenuto di fare tutte e qualsivogliano composizioni, delle quali possa esser richiesto etc.: collo
stipendio di doc. 10 al mese, come godeva il Mancini.” Robinson also notes this agreement in
his article on the Santa Maria di Loreto; see Robinson, “The Governor’s Minutes.”
It is worth noting that the maestri were not tied exclusively to a single conservatory. Porpora
had also served as maestro di cappella at the Sant’Onofrio. Moreover, these responsibilities
represented only a single source of income for these individuals.

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40 The Neapolitan Conservatories: Identity, Formation, and Operation

“16 ducati . . . for a third of his [annual] provision from the current January
to the end of April for serving as maestro di cappella of said Royal
Conservatory.”38 The significant difference in compensation between
Cotumacci and Porpora can be attributed to the fact that the former was
primarily known as a pedagogue, organist, and composer of sacred music.
Cotumacci never composed a single stage work, and his reputation was
mostly within the environs of Naples; he therefore lacked recognition on
the continent. This point is further illustrated by Cotumacci’s second-in-
command at the Sant’Onofrio, Giacomo Insanguine (1728–1795). Another
graduate of the conservatory system, Insanguine was recognized (if not at
the same level as Porpora) as a composer of comic and tragic operas within
Naples and the Italian peninsula. This undoubtedly explains his near equal
level of compensation to Cotumacci, while also serving as his older col-
league’s secondo maestro. Archival documents note, “The Governors of the
Royal Conservatory of S. Onofrio a Capuana [pay] 14 ducats to Don
Giacomo Insanguine, which are for a third from May until the end of
August, of his annual rate as secondo maestro di cappella of the students of
our Royal Conservatory.”39
The Regole of 1746 attest that maestri di cappella offered two hours of
daily instruction but, “in order to avoid confusion, which could occur if all
of the maestri come at the same time, it has been decided that some will
come in the morning, and others after dinner.”40 In particular, “the maestri
that must come in the morning [are] the secondo and the maestri of violin
and oboe. The maestri that must come after dinner, will be the primo, and
the maestro of trumpet.”41 The specific division of responsibilities for the
maestri di cappella are laid out and were clearly wide ranging. The primo

Di Dato, et al., “Notizie dallo Spirito Santo,” 837, entry 570: “I governatori del Real
Conservatorio di S. Onofrio a Capuana (Giovanni Lembo) ducati 16 a Don Carlo Cotumacci,
dite sono per il terzo di sua provvisione da Gennaio a tutto Aprile corrente che se li corrisponde
come Maestro di Cappella dè Figlioli del Real Conservatorio giusta la conclusione, restando
sodisfatto del pagamento.” See also Hanns-Bertold Dietz, “Cotumacci [Cotomaccio], Carlo,”
Grove Music Online, 2001,
Di Dato, Mautone, Melchionne and Petrarca, “Notizie dallo Spirito Santo,” 801, entry 683: “Li
Governatori del Real Conservatorio di S. Onofrio a Capuana ducati 14 a don Giacomo
Insanguine, dite sono per lo terzo de Maggio e per tutto Agosto di sua provvisione come
secondo Maestro di Cappella de’ Figlioli del nostro Real Conservatorio.”
Florimo, La scuola musicale di Napoli, 3:13: “Per evitare la confusione, che potrebbe nascere se i
Maestri venissero tutti in uno medesimo tempo, s’è determinato che alcuni venghino la mattina,
ed altri il doppo pranzo.”
Ibid., 3:18: “I Maestri che devono venire la mattina saranno, il secondo Maestro del Canto, ed i
Maestri di Violino, e d’oboe. I Maestri che devono venire il doppo pranzo, saranno il primo
maestro di Canto, ed il Maestro di tromba.”

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Training: The Role of the Maestri 41

taught counterpoint (including partimento – see Chapter 3) and led

groups, while the secondo was principally engaged with vocal instruction
(often revolving around solfeggio). As a reflection of the keyboard’s critical
role and relationship to partimento, both maestri di cappella were given the
opportunity to teach keyboard skills.42 In order to avoid any rivalries or
personal conflict, the regole note that “it is not prohibited to the secondo
when he would like to teach groups, neither is the primo prevented from
giving individual instruction, especially when not all of the students are
present.”43 Porpora’s employment agreement also details the required
subjects that he must teach, as well as the stipulation that maestri compose
“any type of music requested” directly for students. This repertoire was
most often sacred genres, such as Masses and motets, but occasionally
dramatic pieces, such as the aforementioned opera Il zelo animato.
The existence of “specialized” maestri charged with instrumental
instruction (beyond keyboard) appears in the early years of the conserva-
tories. These maestri were initially divided into the broader categories of
strings and winds, with increasing specialization noted as the century wore
on. Like the maestri di cappella, they had the task of teaching multiple
topics. For example, the maestro di violino, at least early in the eighteenth
century, may have been required to teach viola, cello, and even contrabass.
The conservatories sought to engage leading musicians in these disciplines
as well. One document reveals that “The governors of the Santa Maria di
Loreto [disburse] 18 ducats to Francesco Barbella as his quarterly compen-
sation until the end of March 1733 of his annual compensation of 72 ducats
for the responsibility of teaching the students of the said conservatory to
play the violin.”44 Barbella was a figure of considerable importance in
Neapolitan circles and an established composer of instrumental music.
This may explain why he was engaged only to teach violin as opposed to
all of the strings. His stature and rate of compensation come into focus
when compared to that of his contemporary Nicola Natale, who taught
violin at the Turchini Conservatory: “From the governors of the Pietà dei

Tufano, “Il mestiere del musicista,” 742.
Florimo, La scuola musicale di Napoli, 3:18: “però non viene proibito al secondo di fare quando
li piace, concerto, nè al primo di dare lezzione à solo, specialmente quando non si ritroveranno
tutti i figlioli.”
Francesco Cotticelli and Paologiovanni Maione, “Le carte degli antichi banchi e il panorama
musicale e teatrale della Napoli di primo Settecento: 1732–1734,” Studi Pergolesiani Pergolesi
Studies 5 (2006): app. Banchi 1733, entry 394: “I governatori del Conservatorio di Santa Maria
di Loreto d. 18 à Francesco Barbella per sua provisione di mesi tre per tutta la fine di Marzo
1733 à d. 72 l’anno per lo peso di insegnare li figlioli del detto conservatorio di sonare il violino.”

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42 The Neapolitan Conservatories: Identity, Formation, and Operation

Turchini Conservatory 24 ducats to Nicola Natale maestro of violin of said

conservatory and they are his compensation for six months until the end of
June 1732 as part of his annual compensation of 48 ducats.”45 Natale was
compensated only a little more than half the annual salary of his clearly
more respected colleague. This disparity demonstrates that status was a
factor in the levels of compensation for the instrumental maestri just as it
was for the maestri di cappella. There is a notable continuity in compen-
sation rates for the most esteemed instrumental specialists throughout the
eighteenth century. For example, Michele Nasci was engaged by the
Sant’Onofrio as maestro di violino in the period 1780–1783, earning the
same amount as Barbella or “18 ducats . . ., which are for a third of his
annual compensation to the end of April, corresponding to his services as
maestro di violino for the students of our conservatory.”46 In a similar
manner, Nicola Coccia, the maestro di violino at the Loreto was paid the
same amount as Nasci, demonstrating a remarkable standardization of
rates for instrumental instruction within the conservatory system.47
In terms of the woodwinds, early in the century, the maestro di fiato
covered all of the wind instruments (oboe, flute, bassoon, and increasingly
clarinet), which also illuminates contemporary performance practices. This
is verified from a correlative payment entry noting: “From the Governors
of the Pietà dei Turchini Conservatory 12 ducats for Francesco Antonio
Izzarelli maestro of flute, oboe, bassoon, and other wind instruments of the
said conservatory, given as his compensation for four months, finishing on
March 8, 1732 as part of his annual rate of 36 ducats.”48 Despite his
broader responsibilities of instruction, Izzarelli earned even less than
Natale, which may reflect the centrality of the violin in contemporary
music or a greater number of students to be taught. Izzarelli is also

Ibid., app. Banchi, 1732, entry 553: “Alli Governatori del Conservatorio della Pietà de Turchini
d. ventiquattro e per essi a Nicola Natale mastro [sic] di violino di detto Conservatorio e sono
per sua provisione di mesi sei finiti ad ultimo giugno 1732 alla ragione di d. 48 l’anno.”
Di Dato, et al., “Notizie dallo Spirito Santo,” 961, entry 168: “Pagate ducati diciotto a Don
Michele Nasci dite sono per lo terzo di sua provisione maturata a tutto Aprile corrente anno che
se li corrisponde come Maestro di Violino dei Figlioli del Nostro Conservatorio giusta la
conciliazione restando soddisfatto del passato. Napoli Aprile 1780, Li Governatori del Real
Conservatorio di S. Onofrio a Capuana.”
Ibid., 1044, entry 683.
Cotticelli and Maione, “Le carte degli antichi banchi,” app. Banchi 1732, entry 529: “Ai
Governatori del Conservatorio della Pietà dei Turchini d. 12 per Francesco Antonio Izzarelli
maestro di flauto oboè fagotto et altri istromenti di fiato del detto Conservatorio, dissero esserno
per sua provisione di mesi quattro finiti ad otto marzo 1732 alla ragione di d. 36 l’anno.”

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Training: The Role of the Maestri 43

identified as a priest in related sources; therefore, his salary was in all

likelihood consigned to his ecclesiastical superior.49
The multiple responsibilities of the wind maestri can be further con-
firmed in a payment entry recorded in the early eighteenth century at the
Santa Maria di Loreto, specifying: “The governors of the Santa Maria di
Loreto Conservatory [pay] 12 ducats to the magnificent Paolo Pierro given
as his compensation for the past three months until the end of June as part
of his annual rate of 48 ducats for the responsibility of teaching the
students of said conservatory to play wind instruments.”50 Pierro was
clearly engaged by the Loreto Conservatory for the teaching of all winds
and evidently distinguished himself to the point of being referred to as the
“magnifico.” His annual compensation is also higher than that of Izzarelli,
further underlining his “magnificence.” Yet not all of the instrumental
maestri had the same success as Pierro, as revealed in the following entry
from the Sant’Onofrio Conservatory:

The governors of the Sant’Onofrio of Capuana Conservatory [pay] 5 ducats to

Ferdinando Russo for two months of his salary at the rate of 25 carlini per month
as the instrumental maestro of wind instruments for the students of said conserva-
tory accrued from the end of October 1733, who had exercised the same role from
that time onward, since he has not continued, nor will continue, the exercise of the
same role documented by the deductions noted in accounts.51

From this entry, we learn that Russo failed to live up to either expectations
or the demands of the job itself and was summarily dismissed. The length
of service – only two months – is telling, as maestri were generally compen-
sated quarterly, meaning that Russo did not even last the entire quarter.
As the conservatory system grew and diversified to respond to contem-
porary practices and needs, specialist wind maestri came to the forefront.
For example, Giuseppe Prota, the principal oboist of the San Carlo

Di Giacomo, I quattro antichi conservatorii musicali di Napoli, 298. Di Giacomo also lists
Izzarelli under the heading of maestri di tromba e cornetta, which were technically wind
instruments. He may therefore have been compelled to teach those instruments as well.
Cotticelli and Maione, “Le carte degli antichi banchi,” app. Banchi 1734, entry 511: “I
governatori del Conservatorio di Santa Maria di Loreto d. 12 al magnifico Paolo Pierro per sua
provisione di mesi tre per tutta la fine di Giugno à d. 48 l’anno per lo peso d’insegnare li figliuoli
di detto Conservatorio di sonare Istrumenti di fiato.”
Ibid., app. Banchi 1734, entry 328: “I governatori del Conservatorio di Sant’Onofrio a Capuana
d. 5 à Ferdinando Russo per due mesi della sua provisione alla ragione di carlini 25 il mese di
Maestro di Stromento di Musica di Fiato nelli figliuoli del loro Conservatorio maturati ad
ultimo Ottobre 1733, che à esercitata la carica sudetta dal quale tempo in poi perché non hà
continuato, né continuerà l’Esercitio della medesima carica per l’impedimenti rapresentati
in Banca.”

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44 The Neapolitan Conservatories: Identity, Formation, and Operation

orchestra, was compensated by the Loreto “12 ducats . . . as maestro of

oboe in our Royal Conservatory representing a quarter of his annual pay
from April through the entire following month of June in the current year
of 1778 at the monthly rate of 4 ducats.”52 His higher level of remuneration
is striking given that he provided instruction only in oboe, not the other
wind instruments, even though wind players were accustomed to learning
the entire family. The Loreto was not alone in employing an authority to
teach oboe: the Sant’Onofrio engaged Prota’s colleague from the San Carlo
orchestra, Girolamo Di Donato, in the same capacity, at the lower rate of
eight ducats per quarter.53 This shared approach once again underlines
continuity in pedagogy among the Neapolitan conservatories, while also
striving to engage the best musicians to provide instruction. It is also
evident that the conservatories continued to broaden the types of instru-
mental instruction provided. For example, the Loreto paid “7 ducats and
50 grana to Don Francesco Napolitano maestro di tromba in our Royal
Conservatory for a quarter of his annual compensation from July to the
current month of September 1778, totaling 30 ducats per annum.”54 The
maestro di tromba may have provided instruction in horn and trombone
also, to cover the principal brass instruments of the late eighteenth century;
as verification, surviving archival records note that brass musicians were
often engaged to play all three of these instruments.

Students as Teachers: The Mastricelli

Given the large number of students at each conservatory,55 in comparison

to the handful of maestri, the students themselves covered this critical void
in instruction, through the presence of pupils called mastricelli (or
maestrini), who came to define the concept of “mutual instruction.”
A consideration of this element of conservatory life also helps to illuminate

Di Dato, et al., “Notizie dallo Spirito Santo,” 836, entry 562: “I governatori del Real
Conservatorio e Casa Santa di Loreto ducati 12 a Don Giuseppe Prota Maestro d’oboé del
nostro Real Conservatorio per un trimestre di sua provvisione da aprile a tutto il cadente mese
di giugno del corrente anno 1778 alla raggione di ducati 4 al mese.”
Ibid., 1040, entry 643.
Ibid., 854, entry 838: “I governatori del Real Conservatorio e Casa Santa di Loreto ducati 7 e
grana 50 a Don Francesco Napolitano Maestro di Tromba del nostro Real Conservatorio per un
trimestre di sua provvisione da Luglio a tutto il corrente mese di Settembre 1778 a ragione di
ducati trenta l’anno.”
For a recent accounting of student numbers, see Tufano, “Il mestiere del musicista,” 733–771;
see also Di Giacomo, I quattro antichi conservatorii musicali.

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Students as Teachers: The Mastricelli 45

the division of students into the categories of orfano and convittore. The
mastricelli were the older, advanced students of the conservatory, who
served as assistants to the maestri. The policies pertaining to the maestri
in the Regole refer to the provision of assistants, noting that they must
“confer often with the Father Rector” and, among their specified duties,
must inform him “who is able to provide instruction to others and under-
take the office of Mastricello.”56 This provision is the most logical explan-
ation for the admission of older students, whose contractual period was
often only a handful of years. It does not rule out the possibility that
students were prepared internally from their time of entry and assumed
the role of assistant as they progressed musically. Nevertheless, the rising
fame of the Neapolitan conservatory system and the number of applica-
tions for instruction were considerable by the early eighteenth century. The
maestri therefore had their choice of mastricelli from within and without
the institution to fulfill these critical roles of support.
The regole lay out in detail the expectations of the mastricelli: “Many are
the classes of mastricelli, because many are the parts of music, [namely]
how to sing, how to play the keyboard, the violin, the cello, and the wind
instruments; this office is thereby to give lessons according to their special-
ization to the beginners and those less skilled than themselves.”57 It is
evident that the mastricelli played a critical role as “student specialists” in
delivering the curriculum and ensuring continuity of learning. These
instructions also raise the question of what the mastricelli received in
return for their contributions. One theory conjectures that the institutions
waved their tuition fees. The absence of compensation records to students
identified as mastricelli within the Neapolitan banks provides a partial
confirmation of this assertion. Nevertheless, these students undoubtedly
obtained critical skills in their own formation, not to mention building a
network among the primi maestri to help lay the foundation of a future
career. The succeeding instructions to the mastricelli are a balance of
defining their duties and reinforcing appropriate modes of conduct. At
the practical end, mastricelli were to ensure that students arrived on time to
lessons, with music in hand, instrument tuned, and a readiness for instruc-
tion. They were also required to train the others in the protocols relating to

Florimo, La scuola musicale di Napoli, 3:19: “s’è capace d’insegnare ad altri, e fare l’ufficio di
Ibid.: “Molte sono le classi delli Mastricelli, perchè molte sono le parti della musica, come di
cantare, di sonare il cembalo, il violino, il violongello, e gli stromenti da fiato; l’ufficio de quali è
dare ogni giorno lezzione secondo la propria professione alli principianti, e all’inferiori a se.”

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46 The Neapolitan Conservatories: Identity, Formation, and Operation

extracurricular activities – including concerts, processions, Masses, and

other engagements.
The behavior of the student body was an ongoing matter addressed
through diligent care and discipline. The mastricelli were informed that “It
would be the act of complete charity, if the Mastricelli would call frequently
upon one or more of their students, and especially those deficient, and the
more lacking in talent, and give them another lesson or review the one
given; in order to better educate and better facilitate their learning.”58
These “extra” sessions of tutoring were undoubtedly designed to promote
the success of the student body. At the same time, the professional conduct
of the mastricelli themselves is outlined, referring to past issues regarding
their behavior. The assistants “did not dare” to provide lessons within or
outside the conservatory to “outsiders” unless they had direct permission
from the rector. If granted permission, such engagement was not to
interfere with the normal instruction of the institution. In a similar
manner, the mastricelli were not “to compose masses, motets, sinfonie, or
other compositions of music, without first having consulted and arranged
with the Maestri of the conservatory, and having attained their consent,
they must also receive approval from the Father Rector.”59 These guidelines
extended to the treatment of their own students. The mastricelli were never
accorded the permission to punish physically (bastonare) those under their
The assistants were to consider themselves as equal to their respective
peers within the institution in both extracurricular and curricular aspects
of conservatory life. For example, in terms of the former, regarding the
receipt of gifts, often those of money, derived from performances
outside of the conservatory, the regole direct the mastricelli to either divide
the amount evenly, purchase something that can be divided equally, or
donate the amount to the Church. Prescriptions regarding conduct and
comportment in their roles as mastricelli are even more compelling. In
order to avoid issues that had previously arisen, the distinctions of “first
Mastricelli [whether] sopranos, contraltos, tenors, basses, violins, and any
other instrument are removed entirely; instead they are valued all as

Florimo, La scuola musicale di Napoli, 3:19–20: “Sarebbe atto di sommo carità, se i Mastricelli
più volte al giorno si chiamaserro or uno, or un’altro de loro discepoli, e specialmente li più
ignoranti, è i più scarsi di talento, e li dassero ò nuova lezzione, o li rinovassero la già data; per
maggiormente istruirli, e capacitarli.”
Ibid., 3:20: “Si proibisce di fare messe, mottetti, sinfonie, o altra compositione di musica, senza
prima d’haverle fatte osservare, e concertare, dalli Maestri del Conservatorio, e doppo approvate
da questi ne pigliano licenza dal Rev. Padre Rettore.”

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Students as Teachers: The Mastricelli 47

equals.”60 It was only for performances or the so-called paranze (see the
following section) that the distinction of “primo” or “first” assistant
was restored, undoubtedly reflecting the need for organization, leader-
ship, and supervision. Somewhat surprisingly, the designation of this
exception was the responsibility of the rector instead of the maestri
di cappella. This does, however, underline the hierarchical structure of
the institution and the role of the rector as possessing complete
Professional interactions among the mastricelli extended to other elem-
ents of musical leadership too. For example, for an activity requiring a
conductor, the rector – in consultation with the maestri – chose the
assistant who would lead the ensemble. Yet a later provision suggests that
this responsibility should be judiciously assigned and not exclusively given
to a single individual. At the same time, the mastricelli were charged
with more mundane and quotidian responsibilities, such as the basic
upkeep of the instruments and making certain that all music distributed
was accounted for and duly returned to the institution.61 It is also
evident that the mastricelli often engaged in direct communication with
the rector. Indeed, they were required to confer regularly “to further
advance the duty of the conservatory and the gain of the students.”62
This extended to informing the rector of the status of students in their
studies, whether they were making progress or not and whether should
they be reprimanded or even dismissed. The scope and associated
responsibilities of the mastricelli were considerable, but they were
entirely geared toward the formation and preparation of students. In
particular, the educational methodology (as noted by scholars) concen-
trated on “mutual instruction.”63 This didactic approach ensured con-
tinuity in training and that all of the students were given constant
instruction, supervision, and reinforcement. It was also an excellent
organizational policy given that there were far fewer maestri than

Ibid.: “si togliano affatto le preminenze di primi Mastricelli, soprani, contralti, tenori, bassi,
violini e d’ogni altro stromento, ma stimano tutti equali.”
Archival documents note the presence of specialists who maintained the good condition of and/
or repaired instruments for each conservatory. See Di Dato, et al., “Notizie dallo Spirito Santo,”
1028, entry 501, and 1055, entry 829.
Florimo, La scuola musicale di Napoli, 3:20: “poter meglio promovere il servizio del
Conservatorio, ed il profitto de figlioli.”
Cafiero, “Note su un regolamento,” 278; Tufano, “Il mestiere del musicista,” 733–771.

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48 The Neapolitan Conservatories: Identity, Formation, and Operation

Corporate and Financial Matters

There has been considerable discussion about the focus on religious for-
mation and behavior in the Regole associated with the Turchini
Conservatory, which have been labeled as strict, even suffocating and
oppressive.64 Yet the Regole of 1769 continue to document a holistic
approach, noting that students must be well fed, and their physical well-
being must be addressed too.65 Surviving financial records confirm that
these policies were put into action. For example, the Loreto Conservatory
paid fifty ducats to “Matteo Picaro vendor of the medical apothecaries of
our Royal Conservatory . . . for the entire price of the medicines adminis-
tered from May 15, 1772, until May 31, 1777, in the Infirmary of the Royal
Conservatory.”66 A similar record notes a payment of twelve ducats to
“those students that do not drink wine at the rate of 1 grana for each
day.”67 These policies were not therefore simply a reflection of a particular
conservatism often linked to the catechism of the Catholic Church. They
were more accurately the means toward the intended outcome of the
economic orientation of these institutions as corporate entities. These
strategies transcended the provision of an education and the maintenance
of discipline; they were geared toward securing the financial viability and
future of the institution itself. This corporate mentality propelled the
conservatories toward their eventual formation as professional schools of
music. At the same time, it is evident that there was a considerable need for
services outside their walls, and it was these external commitments that
provided the “fuel” for the transformation. The extracurricular spheres of
activity and associated, often complex, economic mechanisms were critical
to these institutions and helped the conservatories to define the place and

Cafiero, “Note su un regolamento,” 243–280; Tufano, “Il mestiere del musicista,” 733–771.
Mazzola-Vocola, Regole, IV–V. Regole XIV notes: “The appointed Father Rector must be
vigilant, that the bread, soup, food, and everything else that is given to the table of Reverend
Fathers and students, should be of good quality, and above all, that the bread is well made, of
adequate portion, and entirely of a type, without allowing, that that of the Reverend Fathers will
be different from that of the students.” (“Che detto P. Rettore debba invigilare, che il pane,
minestra, pietanze, ed ogni altro che si da alla Tavola de’ RR. PP. e Figliuoli, sia di buona qualità,
e sopra tutto, che il pane sia ben cotto, di giusto peso, e tutto di una sorta, senza permettere, che
quello de’ RR. PP. sia diverso da quello de’ Figliuoli.”)
Di Dato, et al., “Notizie dallo Spirito Santo,” 837, entry 569: “Matteo Picaro affittatore delle
spezierie di medicina del nostro Real Conservatorio . . . per tutto il prezzo dei Medicamenti
somministrati dal 15 maggio 1772 a tutto li 31 maggio 1777 all’Infermeria del Real
Ibid., 1043, entry 678: “Ducati 12 . . . che dovrà pagare a quelli figlioli che non prendono vino
alla ragione di grana 1 al giorno.”

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Corporate and Financial Matters 49

scope of their missions. The acceptance of older, experienced students was

not simply made as an educational resource but as a critical revenue
The surviving documents from all four conservatories speak of the
tradition of paranze or flotte (also flottole), most often a procession or
Mass to mark the celebration of a particular saint. These terms were
euphemisms (derived from nautical terminology) that referred to the
frequent processions of students assembled for religious celebrations or
simply groups of students engaged for external events. According to
archival sources, a typical flotte consisted of an ensemble of ten to fifteen
voices and instruments, while the paranze were groups of twelve students
(again a mixed assembly). A characteristic example of this tradition,
documented in archival documents, notes:

Aniello Cammarano 12 ducats, 2 tari, and 10 grana to the Poveri di Gesù

Conservatory for the past semester accrued until the end of March 1734 as part
of the annual compensation of 25 ducats paid to them by the Venerable
Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, and the Rosary of the Monte di Dio in
Pizzofalcone for the flotte of students providing music for each of the 15 proces-
sions that they offer each year.68

It is evident from the citation that the Poveri di Gesù Conservatory

provided a group of students to fulfill an agreement for fifteen processions
related to the liturgical cycle of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament.
It is also important to note that this was a regular engagement, occurring
annually, and that the Gesù could therefore count on this income for its
balance sheet. The students involved were required, as per the regole, to be
accompanied by a mastricello. If a conservatory neglected a contracted
performance, the client was diligent in withholding full payment, as often
specified in agreements. For example,

To Giuseppe Fierro 10 ducats and from him to the Poveri di Gesù Cristo
Conservatory, as fulfillment of 12 ducats, in expectation of the remaining 2 ducats
from said fulfillment retained by the officials of the Congregation of the Most
Blessed Sacrament resident in the quadrangle of San Domenico Maggiore [Church]
of Naples given the absence of the students of said conservatory on the third
Sunday of the month, and in fact Palm Sunday, said conservatory being engaged to

Cotticelli and Maione, “Le carte degli antichi banchi,” app. Banchi 1734, entry 405: “Aniello
Cammarano d. 12.2.10 al Conservatorio dei Poveri di Gesù per il semestre maturato alla fine di
marzo 1734 per causa dell’annui d. 25 se li corrispondono dalla venerabile Arciconfraternita
dello Santissimo Sagramento, e Rosario del Monte di Dio di Pizzofalcone per le flotte de figliuoli
per le musiche per servizio delle 15 processioni, che ogn’anno si fanno.”

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50 The Neapolitan Conservatories: Identity, Formation, and Operation

provide music for said Congregation on the third Sunday of each month each year,
and for said absence of the identified third Sunday therefore as noted above, they
have withheld said 2 ducats.69

These professional agreements were an evident and ongoing source of

positive revenue for all of the conservatories. They continued throughout
the century, and surviving financial documents reveal the intricate network
that sustained them. Among the more interesting payments, one notes that:

The Governors of the Royal “Monte” for the Veneration of the Most Holy
Sacrament [pay] 12 ducats to the Royal Conservatory of S. Onofrio a Capuana
for the amount accrued to this past May 1783, given that the same amount from
this Royal “Monte” remains to be allocated to the Flotta of musicians, which said
Conservatory, has provided many times for the service of the most sacred viaticum
at the Parish of S. Sofia.70

The institution of the Monte di Pietà dates back to early sixteenth-century

Naples as either a pawnshop or a bank operated by sponsoring religious
orders or organizations. These institutions provided diverse social services,
most often financial assistance, without charging interest. It is apparent
from the payment registry that the governors (or board of directors) of the
“Most Holy Sacrament” operated a “Monte” that even provided last rites
for those in need at the specified parish of Santa Sofia. The students of the
Sant’Onofrio, as noted by the citation, performed for these liturgies, which
represented an ongoing engagement. This revenue stream is consistent
throughout existing ledgers and, in contrast to those mentioned earlier,
often consolidated into single entries. For example, multiple records note
payments to either the rector or the governors of a given conservatory for
services rendered. A typical item reads as “70 ducats 1 tarì and 16 grana to
the Governors’ of the Royal Conservatory of S. Onofrio a Capuana . . . in

Ibid., app. Banchi 1732, entry 31: “A Giuseppe Fierro d. diece e per esso al Conservatorio dei
Poveri di Giesù Cristo, a compimento di d. dodeci, atteso li restanti d. 2 per detto compimento
si sono ritenuti dall’officiali della Congregatione del Santissimo Sacramento eretta dentro il
cortile di San Domenico Maggiore di Napoli per aver mancato li figlioli di detto Conservatorio
di venire in detta Congregatione in far la musica in una terza domenica del mese, e proprio la
Domenica delle Palme, essendo obligato detto Conservatorio di mandare detta musica in detta
Congregatione in ogni terza domenica del mese di ciascheduno anno, e per detta mancanza di
detta sola terza domenica come sopra si sono ritenuti detti d. 2.”
Di Dato, et al., “Notizie dallo Spirito Santo,” 1048, entry 742: “I governatori del Real Monte della
Venerazione del Santissimo Sagramento ducati 12 al Real Conservatorio di S. Onofrio a
Capuana tanti sono per l’annata maturata ad ultimo Maggio corrente anno 1783, per causa di
simil somma che da questo Regal Monte resta assegnata per la Flotta de Musici, che detto
Conservatorio, e tenuto mandare tante volte che li sarà richiesta per servizio del santissimo
viatico della Parrocchia di S. Sofia.”

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Corporate and Financial Matters 51

exact cash for the music performed by the students of our conservatory for
the month of May.”71 In both cases, the payments are made to the
governors, suggesting that they may then have distributed some compen-
sation to the mastricelli. This explains the complete absence of bank
records documenting compensation to these valued assistants.
The Regole of 1746 mention the paranze alongside the obligation to
provide music for the Mass and observance of the Requiem as critical duties
for the maestri, more often the mastricelli, and, of course, the general student
population. It was not unusual to engage as many as twenty-five students at a
time for outside performances. These groups were usually also entrusted a
small number of angioli or beginners with a specific role, so that they could
be inculcated with the tradition and norms of conservatory performances
outside the walls.72 For example, a bank entry from 1734 notes:

The governors of the Church of Saint Blaise the Great [pay] 4 ducats to the
Sant’Onofrio a Capuana Conservatory for the company of the flotta and students
dressed as angels serving for the procession of the glorious Saint Blaise, during the
appearance of the Archbishop to that church on the street of the booksellers, as
happened for the feast celebrated in the month of February 1734.73

The document mentions the presence of students from the Sant’Onofrio and
their participation in the procession and subsequent celebrations surrounding
the Feast of St. Blaise. The phrase “figliuoli vestiti da Angeli” may explain the
etymology of the term that came to be used for the involvement of pupils who
had only recently joined the conservatory in these obligations. These import-
ant sources of income continued into the later eighteenth century, as demon-
strated by the record stating: “12 ducats to the Conservatory of S. Onofrio a
Capuana and 26 ducats and 50 grana to the lay voices and instruments for the
music performed in our church on the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed
Virgin in the past month of July. Naples, August 1781.”74

Ibid., 1043, entry 667: “Ducati 70 tarì 1 grana 16 ai governatori del Real Conservatorio di
S. Onofrio a Capuana, dite sono per tanti da me esatti contanti dalle musiche fatte dalli Figlioli
del nostro Conservatorio nell’intiero mese di Maggio corrente anno.”
Del Prete, “Un’azienda musicale a Napoli,” 441.
Cotticelli and Maione, “Le carte degli antichi banchi,” entry 266: “I governatori della Chiesa di
San Biagio Maggiore d. 4 al Conservatorio di Sant’Onofrio a Capuana per l’associazione della
flotta, e figliuoli vestiti da Angeli serviti per la processione del Glorioso San Biase, cosi nel venire
dall’Arcivescovato alla sua Chiesa alla Strada de librari, come nel ritornare per la festa celebrata
nel mese di Febraro 1734.”
Di Dato, et al., “Notizie dallo Spirito Santo,” 964, entry 200: “Ducati dodeci al Conservatorio di
S. Onofrio e ducati ventisei e grana 50 alle Voci et Istrumenti Secolari per la musica fatta in
Nostra Chiesa nel Giorno della Visitazione alla Beata Vergine, e del cadente mese di Luglio.
Napoli Agosto 1781.”

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52 The Neapolitan Conservatories: Identity, Formation, and Operation

The network of religious establishments that engaged conservatory

students extended to those entrusted with high political office. For
example, an archival source notes:

The most excellent Eletti of the most faithful city of Naples remit 9 ducats and
10 grana to the sacristan of the church Santa Maria della Vita and in turn Father
Angelo Guglielmelli . . . to the Venerable Conservatory of the Poveri di Gesù in
fulfillment of the 18 ducats . . . and they represent an entire year until the end of the
past month of December 1731 for said annual compensation that correspond to the
schedule of 15 carlini each month for the flotta of student musicians that are sent
every fourth Sunday in each month to the Church of Santa Maria della Vita to
accompany the procession of our Lady of Carmel.75

The body that commissioned this flotta was the Eletti, or ruling body of
civic officials that comprised a city council to serve, advise, and manage the
municipality, answering to the office of the viceroy. The entry also demon-
strates how political and religious entities were deeply intertwined in the
city. This tradition of performances of civic events continued into the final
quarter of the century; one example is documented as “to the Governors of
the Royal Conservatory of S. Onofrio a Capuana . . . for the music of the
‘Fiera’ from this past year.”76
The paranze were not confined to proximate locations in the city.
A payment receipt notes, “Don Alessio Ruffo [pays] 12 ducats to Don
Alessandro Volante Rector of the Sant’Onofrio a Capuana Conservatory,
for diverse services of music provided by the students of said conservatory
in the city of Sorrento in this current year 1734,”77 demonstrating that

Cotticelli and Maione, “Le carte degli antichi banchi,”app. Banchi 1732, entry 38: “Gli
eccellentissimi eletti della fedelissima città di Napoli versano d. nove e grana 10 al sacrestano
della Chiesa di Santa Maria della Vita e per girata del Padre Angelo Guglielmelli . . . al
Venerabile Conservatorio delli Poveri di Giesù Cristo a compimento delli d. diecedotto . . . e
sono per un’annata intiera finita all’ultimo del passato mese di dicembre 1731 per tanti annui
che se li corrispondono cioè a regime di carlini quindeci in ogni mese per la flotta delli figliuoli
musici che manda in ogni quarta domenica di ciascheduno mese nella loro Chiesa di Santa
Maria della Vita ad accompagnare la processione di Nostra Signora del Carmine.” The Eletti
were based in Naples, and comprised five members of the nobility (corresponding to the local
districts or seggi) and a sixth member drawn from the people (called the Eletto del Popolo). The
Eletti governed critical sectors of the city through their custodianship of a number of significant
Di Dato, et al., “Notizie dallo Spirito Santo,” 1071, entry 164: “alli Signori Governatori del Real
Conservatorio di S. Onofrio a Capuana . . . per la musica alla Fiera del passato anno.”
Cotticelli and Maione, “Le carte degli antichi banchi,” 1734, entry 1037: “Don Alessio Ruffo
d. 12 a Don Alessandro Volante Rettore del Conservatorio di Santo Onofrio a Capuano, per
alcuni servitij di musica fatti dalli figlioli di detto Conservatorio nella citta di Sorrento in questo
corrente anno 1734.”

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Corporate and Financial Matters 53

students from the Sant’Onofrio traveled as far as Sorrento to provide a

musical service. This undoubtedly required at least one day of travel from
Naples and an overnight stay for the ensemble. The Regole make clear
provisions for students who were not able to return to their home insti-
tution immediately.78
As the number of engagements multiplied, there were different “forms”
of service developed. For example, there were smaller contingents of
students, generally twelve, who were accompanied by an equal number of
angioli. The Turchini offered what was termed a coro (or choir) that
comprised an organist, four voices (presumably SATB), four violins, cello,
oboe, and trumpet. This arrangement of instruments is notably character-
istic for the scoring of most eighteenth-century music, suggesting a broad
application, whether sacred or secular. An archival record preserves details
of this type of event:

Don Gennaro Accietta [pays] 10 ducats to Carlo Satriano maestro di Cappella;

these funds are to satisfy the expense of the music for the fourth Friday in the
present month of March of the current year including the maestro di Cappella, two
violins, a cello, and two good voices for the first three Fridays, and said maestro di
Cappella, two violins, a cello, and four good voices on the fourth Friday, agreed and
decided upon with said Carlo for service to the Congregation of the Most Blessed
Crucifix resident in the collegiate church of Saint John the Great in Naples.79

As outlined in the description, the students (both voices and instruments)

were organized into smaller ensembles to satisfy a request for the
Congregation of the Blessed Crucifix on the fourth Friday of the month.
Although the specifics are not detailed, in all likelihood, the ensembles
provided music for the celebration of the Mass liturgy. This tradition
evidently continued into the latter part of the century, as noted by the
compensation registered as

10 ducats to the Reverend Don Matteo Lambiase Rector of the Conservatory Pietà
dei Turchini, for the three flotte of musicians from said Conservatory and proces-
sion of Angeli participating in the Procession of the Most Blessed Sacrament, which

See Cafiero, “Note su un regolamento,” 243–280; Florimo, La scuola musicale di Napoli, 3:20.
Cotticelli and Maione, “Le carte degli antichi banchi,” 1734, entry 269: “Don Gennaro Accietta
d. 10 a Carlo Satriano maestro di Cappella detti sono in sodisfattione della musica de’ 4 Venerdì
del presente mese di marzo del corrente anno consistente nel maestro di Cappella, due Violini,
uno violoncello, e due Voci buone nelli primi tre Venerdì, è detto maestro di Cappella, due
Violini, Uno Violoncello, e quattro Voci buone nel quarto Venerdì, così appurato, e convenuto
col detto Carlo per servitio della Congregazione del Santissimo Crocifisso eretto nella
Colleggiata di San Giovanni maggiore di Napoli.” For a paranze, see ibid., 905, entry 801.

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54 The Neapolitan Conservatories: Identity, Formation, and Operation

occurred in the narrow confines of the Royal Church of S. Anna di Palazzo on the
29th day of the current month.80

It is evident from the preceding account that the conservatories continued

to provide groups of students that could be utilized in different combin-
ations to satisfy the prevailing needs of patrons (and even within limited
physical spaces).
Throughout the eighteenth century, students of the conservatories con-
tinued to expand their range of performances from sacred commitments to
include the annual carnevale celebrations, as well as events in the private
homes of patrons (as verified by the existence of associated libretti).81
A notice from the Gazzetta di Napoli, the principal chronicle of the city,
records the public performance of an opera in the Turchini Conservatory
composed by its future maestro di cappella and current student Leonardo
Leo during the carnevale celebrations:

Having been performed in the aforementioned Royal Conservatory of the Turchini

this past Carnival by these students a work entitled s. Chiara, o L’infedeltà
abbattuta, composed by the Abbot Gaetano Maggio and set to music by
Leonardo Leo, student of said royal house, in front of a large gathering of ladies
and gentlemen, given its considerable applause, His Excellency requested its encore
this past Sunday [February 14th] in the Royal Palace, to his entire satisfaction and
that of his most distinguished house.82

As noted in the prior citation, the appreciation of the opera was consider-
able, such that a repeat performance was ordered – this time in the Royal
Palace of Naples. The opportunity to demonstrate the skills of Leo, who
would go on to distinguish himself as a leading operatic composer, primo
maestro di cappella at the Turchini and the court, placed the institution in
an advantageous position for continued support. Later in the century, the

Di Dato, et al., “Notizie dallo Spirito Santo,” 937–938, entry 494: “Ducati 10 al Reverendo Don
Matteo Lambiase Rettore del Conservatorio della Pietà dei Turchini, dite sono per tre flotte di
Musici di detto Conservatorio e Corteo con Angeli intervenuti nella Processione del Santissimo
Sacramento fatta nel ristretto della Real Chiesa di S. Anna di Palazzo a dì 29 del corrente mese.”
Del Prete, “Un’azienda musicale a Napoli,” 457. Payments entries for performances in private
homes are rare. They were probably subsumed within the general, often monthly entries noting
general services by the conservatory students.
Magaudda and Costantini, Musica e spettacolo nel Regno di Napoli, 208: “Essendosi
rappresentata nell’ accennato R. conservatorio de’ Torchini nello scorso carnevale da questi
figliuoli un’opera di S. Chiara, intitolata L'infedeltà abbattuta, composta dall’abate Gaetano
Maggio e posta in musica da Lionardo Leo, alunno di detta R. Casa, con gran concorso di dame
e cavalieri; per l’applauso ch’ebbe, S. E. la fé replicare domenica scorsa [14 febbraio] nel
R. Palazzo, con intiera sua soddisfazione e dell’ eccellentissima casa.”

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Corporate and Financial Matters 55

royal Teatro di San Carlo engaged students from the Turchini as choristers:
during the 1783–1784 season, surviving financial ledgers note the following
payment to “Don Matteo Lambiase, Rector of the Royal Conservatory,
98.80 [ducats], as compensation for the services rendered by 26 students,
who sang in the chorus for the 19 representations of the drama entitled
Oreste, specifically 20 grana for each student per service.”83 Given this kind
of exposure, not to mention the critical income provided by these engage-
ments, it is not surprising that select students were retained beyond the
completion of their contracts, even when it was in their best interests to
assume a professional position.
As noted earlier, the conservatories did not rely exclusively on outside
performances for revenue. Their business model was diversified and com-
plex, extending to a broad portfolio of investments, a sector of privileges
called arrendamenti, gifts, and bequests, to name only a select few. In her
wide-ranging research on the conservatories, Del Prete has identified that
each establishment had the foresight to invest in real estate: not only
dormitories to house students, but also private dwellings that were rented
out. The latter were often leased to maestri and others tied to the particular
school.84 Yet it was the arrendamenti with their heterogeneous and highly
profitable nature that were a critical key to financial viability. These ranged
from shares of public debt to a percentage of customs’ duties levied on
imports and exports. These privileges were a longstanding tradition in
Naples, generally bestowed by the ruling establishment of the city. In a
similar manner, the Santa Maria di Loreto was accorded a jus to tax
commodities sold in the nearby Piazza del Mercato as early as 1560.85
The arrendamenti provided a critical resource and helped to address the
significant operating expenses of the conservatories. Their procurement
underlines the necessity for each conservatory to have an active board of
governors, not to mention president, who were well connected with the
ruling elite. From this perspective, the demonstration of student skills and
achievement (as in the performance of Il zelo animato in 1733) could have
been a persuasive tool in the receipt of arrendamenti.
The conservatories also benefitted from financial gifts and the bequests
of patrons. The latter often specified the provision of financial resources for

Archivio di Stato di Napoli, Fondo Casa Reale Antica, fascio no. 968, fol. 11r: “Al Don Matteo
Lambiase, Rettore di detto Real Conservatorio 98.80 [ducati] in compenso delle fatiche fatte da
no. 26 alunni per aver cantati ne’ Cori delle 19 rappresentazioni del Dramma intitolato l’Oreste
a grana 20 per ogni alunno in ogni serata.”
Olivieri, “Aggiunte a ‘La scuola musicale di Napoli’,” 720.
Robinson, “The Governors Minutes,” 25.

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56 The Neapolitan Conservatories: Identity, Formation, and Operation

needy students, specifically orfani entering the conservatory system. In fact,

one patron directed that the Santa Maria di Loreto admit 200 students
through his endowment.86 The individuals who received the bequests often
took the surname of their benefactor as a form of tribute, as well as an
acknowledgment of their newly established heredity.87 Finally, an indis-
pensable role was performed by the public and private banks of Naples.88
They were engaged in virtually every facet of the conservatories’ operation,
from providing credit for capital projects to serving as guarantor for
students entering and exiting these institutions. While it was not unusual
for students to engage a bank to guarantee their entrance fees, as noted in
the archival registries of notaries, they also accrued debt over fees or other
essentials (such as the cost of uniforms, musical supplies, and related
items). Surviving documents demonstrate that the banks served as an
intermediary between parties in the hope of achieving resolution.89 This
reality was the basis for extending the stay of a student or establishing a
private agreement between conservatory and individual that the latter
would satisfy the debt once proven in the professional world.
The complex economic and communal mechanisms at work in the
conservatory system brought together diverse spheres of Neapolitan soci-
ety: private and public, political and cultural, sacred and secular. Although
originally grounded in the religious and social missions of the Catholic
Church to provide for those in need while also reflecting a longstanding
tradition of institutions within Naples devoted to this goal, the prevailing
philosophy of the conservatories can be described as mercantilism applied
to endemic poverty. This guiding principle, whether articulated formally or
not, supplanted the notion of the “symbolic exchange” that had prevailed
in the sector of charitable institutions and in the provisions offered by

Del Prete, “La trasformazione di un istituto benefico-assistenziale,” 686. 87
Avallone, “The Utilisation of Human Resources in Banking”, 1, notes: “During the early
seventeenth century there were seven banks: the Banco della Pietà (founded 1570), and the
Banco dei Poveri (1600), which originated respectively from the Monte della Pietà (1539) and
from the Monte dei Poveri (1563), being progenitor institutions that engaged in charity,
granting interest-free loans upon pledge. The other banks, Banco dell’Annunziata (1587), Banco
di S. Maria del Popolo (1589), Banco di S. Eligio (1592), Banco dello Spirito Santo (1594) and
Banco di S. Giacomo (1597), were formed by the Governatori who managed the capital’s
hospitals and charitable institutions. In the mid-seventeenth century, the Banco del Salvatore
(1640) was the only bank to be established by several speculators – collectors of the flour
excise – who wished to invest the profits of their activity. The eight banks thrived for two
centuries, even though they were severely affected by the crises of 1622, 1647, 1656–57, 1689–91
and 1702 (when the Banco Ave Gratia Plena went bankrupt), and by those at the end of the
eighteenth century that led to the transformation of the seven remaining banks.”
Del Prete, “La trasformazione di un istituto benefico-assistenziale,” 671–715.

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Corporate and Financial Matters 57

benefactors, whether private or public. By the eighteenth century, the

conservatories had become just a few of the myriad institutions in the
competitive marketplace providing artistic (in this case, musical) services.
This economic sector was quite heterogeneous, not to mention highly
competitive, although many, if not most, “service providers” had been
initially conceived as charitable institutions.
The four conservatories competed not only with one another but also
with the ospedali, congregations, and confraternities (to name only a few)
in providing what may be termed an artistic commodity. Yet they all
needed to maintain an excellent rapport with the existing political hier-
archy, one that was highly volatile in the early modern period as Naples
moved from Spanish to Austrian rule and then to its status as an independ-
ent kingdom in 1734. These political shifts had deep cultural resonance, as
both the Austrian and the Spanish Bourbons were increasingly wary of the
influence of the Catholic Church and its considerable reach within the
social realm.90
The predominant economic orientation exercised a critical influence on
the corporate regimentation of the curriculum, which – as noted earlier –
was unusual neither in other charitable entities nor in sacred bodies as a
whole. The cloistering of students toward community, communal educa-
tion, and defined economic and educational goals had been a characteristic
of Catholic entities (such as monasteries, convents, and religious orders)
for several centuries. Students were placed into a similar and demanding
environment, in which their lives and academic studies were rigidly organ-
ized and for which there were clear expectations and desired outcomes of
economic viability and artistic excellence.91 The choice of music as the
principal vocation for students was primarily economic and reflected its
potential profitability within the city, whose dense ecclesiastical population
and growing social status as a political capital and destination for the
Grand Tour encouraged this approach. The premium placed on music as
the economic backbone of the conservatories helped them to diversify and
expand their mission and purview from primarily sacred genres to secular

The prevailing political philosophy of the Spanish Bourbons has been characterized as “regalist”
or the assertion of the state over that of the Catholic Church. The longstanding tensions
between the Neapolitan monarchy and the Catholic Church reached virtually every facet of
contemporary society. For a brief summary of the controversies between the Neapolitan
monarchy and Catholic Church, see Anthony R. DelDonna, Opera, Theatrical Culture and
Society in Late Eighteenth-Century Naples (Aldershot: Ashgate Press, 2012), 109–156.
The timetables for daily activities are included in the Regole from 1728 and reproduced in
Cafiero, “Note su un regolamento,” 243–280.

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58 The Neapolitan Conservatories: Identity, Formation, and Operation

ones – in particular, imparting musicians with the skills to create varied

forms of stage drama or to make their names as instrumental specialists.
This process of transformation is also evident in the student performances
in private residences (aristocratic and otherwise), at carnevale, and even in
the local theaters.
The increasing profile of the conservatories undoubtedly steered insti-
tutional standards, which continued to rise through the early modern
period. Yet these critical contextual and economic factors – as well as the
political, social, and cultural economic ones – did take their eventual toll. It
was the same competitive environment, with its attendant contexts and
upheavals, that led to the consolidation of the four conservatories into a
single entity, the Real Conservatorio di Musica, as the century drew toward
its end. There is no question, however, that the conservatories produced
highly gifted and diverse students, whose talents were in demand through-
out the Kingdom of Naples and beyond to the whole of the Italian penin-
sula and the continent at large.

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