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Marco Enrico Bossi was born in Salò on Lake Garda in 1861, the year of Italy’s unification, into a family of musicians: his father Pietro (1834–1896) was also an organist and composer, his son Renzo (1883–1965) became one of the most renowned professors of composition in Italy. Marco Enrico studied in Bologna and Milan, where he was first awarded his piano diploma (1879), then his diploma in composition (1881). Bossi never finished his organ studies, despite years of study with the renowned organist and composer Polibio Fumagalli (1837–1908), which could be interpreted as an act of criticism against Italian organ practice of his time, which was heavily influenced by the prevailing taste for opera. Instead, he travelled throughout Europe and America, establishing ties with fellow organists Camille Saint-Saëns, Marcel Dupré, Karl Straube and others, who strengthened his resolve to bring the organ culture of his native country into line with central European standards. After nine years as titular organist at Como cathedral (1881–1890), Bossi embarked on a remarkable ‘official’ career (first as lecturer in organ and composition at Naples and Bologna, then as head of the Conservatories of Venice, Bologna, and Rome); in 1897 he was also appointed to the Commissione reale per l’arte musicale. This plethora of high-ranking offices made it possible for him to exert almost unequalled influence on the musical life of the young nation. Under Bossi’s influence, educational standards were introduced, which are in place to this day—state-certified organ classes were introduced, enhancing the artistic status of the organ as a free concert instrument, unencumbered with liturgical restrictions. From 1893 he published the Metodo teorico-pratico per lo studio dell’organo, which paved the way for modern organ practice and its literature (including J.S. Bach) in Italy. Bossi, who was never again connected to the church after his time in Como, also personified a type of artist never before encountered south of the Alps, namely the freelance ‘concertista d’organo’, and mostly played at the innumerable organ dedications which proliferated in Italy at the time of Caecilian reforms.

Apart from his ‘first love’, the organ, Marco Enrico Bossi fought (along with Giovanni Sgambati, Francesco Paolo Neglia, and Giuseppe Martucci) as composer for the establishment of an Italian instrumental music which could hold its ground independently of the all-embracing opera culture. The spread of musical theatre in the nineteenth century had led to the abolition of all symphonic institutions on the Italian peninsula: the composers named above became advocates of a chamber music and orchestra culture modelled on the French and German example, opening the way for the Generazione dell’Ottanta (Ottorino Respighi, Gianfrancesco Malipiero, and Alfredo Casella, among others). Throughout his life, Bossi had considerable success as a composer, for instance with his Trio sinfonico, Op. 123, for violin, cello and piano (1901), the Intermezzi goldoniani, Op. 127, for orchestra (1905), and the Canticum Canticorum, Op. 120, for soloists, choir and orchestra, the première of which at the St Thomas church in Leipzig (1900) made a lasting impression. Bossi’s symphonic works abruptly fell out of favour after the Second World War—the reasons for this are not only to be found in his conservative adherence to the Brahmsian tradition, but almost certainly also to his joining the Fascist Party in 1921. He died in 1925 in mid-Atlantic while returning from a tour of the United States.

© 2008 Pier Damiano Peretti

Box Set Release Catalogue Number
Die Orgel: Konigin Naxos 8.503057

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BOSSI, M.E.: 4-Hand Piano Music (Borganti, Giurato) Tactus
BOSSI, M.E.: Fantasie / Ave Maria / Salve Regina / Adagio / Sanctus et Benedictus / Dio siete buono / Dafne e Cloe (Opere Varie) (Macinanti) Tactus
Instrumental, Vocal, Chamber Music, Vocal, Instrumental, Vocal, Instrumental, Vocal, Instrumental
BOSSI, M.E.: Music for Cello and Piano (Complete) / Music for Violin and Piano (Complete), Vol. 1 (A. Noferini, R. Noferini, Giurato) Tactus
Chamber Music
BOSSI, M.E.: Organ Music - Konzertstuck in C Minor / Hora mystica / Hora gaudiosa (Peretti) Naxos
BOSSI, M.E.: Organ Music (Complete), Vol. 11 (Macinanti) Tactus
BOSSI, M.E.: Organ Works (Complete), Vol. 1 (Macinanti) Tactus
Choral - Sacred, Instrumental, Chamber Music, Instrumental
BOSSI, M.E.: Organ Works (Complete), Vol. 10 (Macinanti) Tactus
BOSSI, M.E.: Organ Works (Complete), Vol. 3 (Macinanti) Tactus
BOSSI, M.E.: Organ Works (Complete), Vol. 4 (Macinanti) Tactus
BOSSI, M.E.: Organ Works (Complete), Vol. 5 (Macinanti) Tactus
BOSSI, M.E.: Organ Works (Complete), Vol. 6 (Macinanti) Tactus
BOSSI, M.E.: Organ Works (Complete), Vol. 7 (Macinanti) Tactus
BOSSI, M.E.: Organ Works (Complete), Vol. 8 (Macinanti) Tactus
BOSSI, M.E.: Piano Trios Nos. 1-2 (SchuberTrio) Tactus
Chamber Music
BOSSI, M.E.: Pieces for Organ, Opp. 3, 92, 113, 132 / Messa da Requiem (Macinanti, Coro Euridice di Bologna, Scattolin) Tactus
Instrumental, Choral - Sacred
BOSSI, M.E.: Westminster Abbey / Epousailles / Sanctus et Benedictus / Brollopskvade / Ave Maria (Macinanti, Cuneo City Choral Society, Bissi) Tactus
Choral - Sacred, Instrumental, Vocal, Instrumental, Chamber Music, Vocal
BRITANNIC ORGAN (THE), Vol. 12 - A Final Cruise With Great Organist Performances Oehms Classics
BRITANNIC ORGAN (THE), Vol. 7 Oehms Classics
BRITANNIC ORGAN (THE), Vol. 9 - Welte's US organists Oehms Classics
Choral - Sacred
ESSENTIAL ORGAN - A Journey through Italian Organ Music Tactus
OD (Orphei Drangar) Highlights BIS
Choral - Secular
Organ Music - DAVIDE DA BERGAMO / ROSSINI, G. / DONIZETTI, G. / MORANDI, G. (Pastorali Italiane Vol. 2, Vol. 2) (Salvadori, Tasini, Macinanti) Tactus
PASTORALI ITALIANE, VOL. 3 - 20th Century Tactus

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