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Alberto Basso

Istituto per i Beni Musicali in Piemonte

In J. S. Bach's name: Frau Musika and beyond

Alberto Basso, the author of more than five hundred publications and about 130 radio broadcasts about Johann Sebastian Bach, is acknowledged as the greatest Bach expert in Italy. In 1961 he published Il corale organistico di J. S. Bach, and in 1976 the fifth volume of the series on Music History edited by the Società Italiana di Musicologia, bearing the title of L'età di Bach e di Händel. Between 1979 and 1983 he published the two volumes of Frau Musika, the most comprehensive modern biography of Bach after Philipp Spitta's monumental work. In 2015 he published the Manuale di navigazione, a three-volume work for musicologists and musicians approaching Bach studies; it provides them with a vocabulary and introductory studies about Bach's biography and the chronology of his works.

Alberto Basso has a degree in Law, but has dedicated his whole life to music. For more than thirty years he was a Professor of Music History, and later the Librarian at the Conservatory of Turin (1961-1993). From 1973 to 1979, and again from 1994 to 1997 he was the President of the Società Italiana di Musicologia. In 1986 he founded the Istituto per i Beni Musicali in Piemonte. Since 1982 he is a Member of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and in 1984 he was knighted (Cavaliere dell'Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana). In 2004 he was awarded an honorary degree in Musicology at the Universitat Autonoma of Barcelona. 

Alberto Basso began his musicological activity in 1950 with a monograph about Igor Stravinsky, which was awarded the First Prize at a Competition by the Ministry for the Public Education in Italy. Later he edited five monumental encyclopedic works published by UTET: La Musica (6 vols., 1966-1971), Storia dell'Opera (6 vols., 1977), the DEUMM (Dizionario Enciclopedico Universale della Musica e dei Musicisti, 17 vols., 1983-2004), Musica in Scena (6 vols., 1995-1997), Storia della Musica (5 vols., the first three of which were also entirely written by him, 2004-2005). He is the author of ten monographs, which are the results of his very varied studies; along with Bach, his research interests and publications include Storia del Conservatorio «Giuseppe Verdi» di Torino, storia e documenti dalle origini al 1970 (1971), Storia del Teatro Regio di Torino (6 vols., the second of which was authored by him, 1976-1991), L’invenzione della gioia. Musica e massoneria nell’età dei Lumi (1994), I Mozart in Italia (2006), L’Eridano e la Dora festeggianti. Le musiche e gli spettacoli nella Torino di Antico Regime (2016). He also supervised the exposition (and the caalogue) for the 250° anniversary of the Opera Theatre in Turin: L’arcano incanto, per i 250 anni del Teatro Regio di Torino (1991). 

He edited approximately 150 volumes for various series and is the author of hundreds of concert booklets, articles for popularization, interviews and conference presentations. Among the several publications homaging him are the two volumes Musica se extendit ad omnia. Studi in onore di Alberto Basso in occasione del suo 75° compleanno (2007).