Published online by Cambridge University Press: 21 August 2019
‘Unfortunately, music criticism does not exist in Italy.’ Such a sweeping statement, uttered in 1900 by the writer Michele Virgilio within the context of a damning critique of Puccini’s Tosca, might seem to negate the need for the present chapter. It is, of course, not true. There was plenty of music criticism in nineteenth-century Italy, published in newspapers, in cultural periodicals of a general nature and in numerous specialist music journals and magazines. What Virgilio’s comment reveals, however, is a frustration felt by many turn-of-the-century Italian intellectuals about the prevalence of what might be called ‘dilettante’ criticism, characterised by descriptiveness, venality and provincialism, and the perception that Italian music criticism was lagging behind that of neighbouring France and, in particular, Germany.