Vying for the Monk: competing ideological strands in the 1882 Guidonian celebrations in Arezzo

Stefano Mengozzi
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor (USA)


Imposing celebrations in honour of Guido Monaco took place in Arezzo in September 1882, coinciding with the unveiling of the statue by Salvino Salvini. The figure of Guido, however, conveyed different connotations to the various socio-political actors that participated in the event. The secular and nationalist party, which then ruled both the city and the nation, saw the medieval theorists as the symbol of Italy’s musical pre-eminence in the world, and of the long historical process that eventually led to a unified and Church-free nation. To the Cecilian movement, which held an important congress of liturgical chant in Arezzo during the Feste, Guido was the protagonist of the mythical Golden Age of religious song that the movement sought to restore, as well as the embodiment of a nation founded on Catholicism, rather than opposed to it. Finally, the Feste of 1882 spurred a new wave of scholarly studies on Guido’s life and works, conceived in line with the principles and methodologies of historicism. Viewed as a whole, the various “monuments” to Guido Monaco erected during the Feste of Arezzo provide a snapshot of the cultural and political climate of the time. 

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