Alberto Mantelli (Torino, May 14, 1909 - Torino, September 1, 1967) was an Italian musicologist and music critic.


(Giacomo) Alberto Mantelli studied at Liceo Classico Massimo d'Azeglio of Torino, under Augusto Monti and Italo Maione. He graduated in Law in Turin with a thesis on "The object of copyright in musical creation" [1]

He contributed to the Rivista Musicale Italiana (1932) with an essay entitled "Debussy and Mallarmé" and, subsequently, to the Rassegna Musicale, where he published articles on Stravinsky, Hindemith, Berg and Ravel, among others.

In 1936 he wrote the first essay appeared in Italy on Alban Berg (La Rassegna Musicale, 1936). He created the Italian rhythmic version of Alban Berg's Wozzeck for the famous first performance in Rome in 1942.[2] In the same year he published the Guide to Wozzeck [3]. His essay "Three centuries of European music" [4] was published in 1947, when Mantelli also edited the first Italian edition of the autobiography of Igor Stravinsky "Croniques de ma vie," which he also translated. At that time, Mantelli was also a member of the organizing committee of the International Festival of Contemporary Music at the Venice Biennale.

Mantelli started working at EIAR in Rome in 1938 in the Programming Office. After a break due to war, he returned to EIAR (later, RAI) in 1946 as the manager of the music sector of the radio station of Turin.

The Italian Third Radio Programme

In 1950, during Sernesi's RAI direction, Mantelli conceived, organized and directed the Third Radio Programme. The Third Programme began broadcasting at 9 in the evening of Sunday, October 1, 1950 from the FM stations in Bologna, Florence, Genoa, Milan, Naples, Rome, Turin, Venice and from the short-wave station of Rome. The first show was dedicated to the myth of Orpheus with an introduction by Emilio Cecchi and works Claudio Monteverdi, Jacques Offenbach and Igor Stravinsky.

The Third Programme broadcast from 9 to 11:15 in the evening and was conceived as the cultural programme for the Italian public broadcasting service (RAI). Mantelli's approach was far more interesting than the label suggests: 'Provided, of course, that the term culture is assumed in its most alive and real sense of expression of the spiritual life, and also, extending somewhat its meaning, in the sense of a living and concrete reflection on the issues in which man exists, struggles, and grows today. It would be naive to mark borders not to cross, prohibited areas that cannot be violated, when one well knows that it is human and at times inevitable to go out of the sign. It is obvious that in saying culture in this sense, one wants to avoid to identify it with pure scholarship which is essentially the basis and instrument of culture, and as such cannot be the fundamental object of a forum open to the public as is radio. " [5]

As it is evident from the first evening's program, Mantelli conceived and realized the idea of subject evenings, which would later become a widespread approach in radio and television programs, "the whole transmission of an evening to which texts, music, theater, narrative can contribute, revolves around a subject which may be from time to time, an artist (Gide, Clair, Schumann), a myth (Orpheus), a city as an expression of culture and civilization (Vienna, world of yesterday), a cultural milestone (Paris 1830), and so on. " [6]

The transition from undifferentiated radio programmes to specific (light, cultural and "medium") radio channels, interested in the same period the French radio and BBC (e.g., the BBC third cultural program). The contribution of Mantelli to this transformation was recognized by, among others, E. M. Forster.[7]

Subsequent years

Subsequently, Mantelli held major posts in RAI, and, in 1959 he became central deputy director of radio programs. Among his responsibilities, relationships with European and international radio and music organizations.

He continued his collaboration with the Third Programme, particularly for music programming, and he edited numerous broadcasts for it.

In 1958, Mantelli founded L'Approdo Musicale, of the most important Italian journals of music criticism, which he directed from the first to the last number. The journal, published by ERI, was conceived as a series of single numbers on composers, mostly modern and contemporary one: the first issue was devoted to Alfredo Casella, the last one to Anton Bruckner. The number on Debussy was entirely written by Mantelli.

Mantelli was involved with the organization of the "Prix Italia", since its first edition in Capri in 1948. He also edited its beautiful and important annual publications.

In 1955, Mantelli and Rognoni founded the Musical Phonology Studio in Milan, to which Mantelli actively collaborated. He also organized the first "International Congress of Experimental Music" in Venice in 1961.

He edited and partly wrote several volumes for ERI. Among these, "La Regia" (1955), which he wrote with Apollonio, Ferrieri and Rondi.


  1. ^ His thesis formed a reference point for the argument. It was printed (GA Mantelli, "The object of copyright in musical creation," Milan 1933) and was republished in 1937 in the series of monographs by the publisher of Private Law "Athenaeum" of Rome.
  2. ^ No misprint, Wozzeck in Italy in 1942. See R. Vlad, «E Hitler chiamò Mussolini: cancella il Wozzeck», Corriere della Sera, 30 settembre 2003, p. 50
  3. ^ La Lampada, 1942
  4. ^ Il Balcone, Milano, 1937
  5. ^ A. Mantelli, Il Terzo Programma, Radiocorriere, 27:38, Sept. 1950
  6. ^ A. Mantelli, Il Terzo Programma, Radiocorriere, 27:38, Sept. 1950
  7. ^ The BBC talks of E. M. Forster, 1929-1960: a selected edition