The Manifesto of Futurist Musicians -The Path Issue

By Jo Phillips

Futurism was an early 20th-century art movement which encompassed painting, sculpture, poetry, theatre, music, architecture and gastronomy. Filippo Tommaso Marinetti initiated the movement with his Manifesto of Futurism, published in February 1909. Futurist music took this further and rejected tradition by introducing experimental sounds inspired by machinery, and influenced several 20th-century composers. 

The Manifesto of Futurist Musicians is a manifesto written by Francesco Balilla Pratella on October 11, 1910.In the manifesto, Pratella appeals to the youth for only they can understand what he says – that they are thirsty for ‘the new, the actual, the lively.’ He goes on to talk about the degeneration of Italian music to that of a vulgar melodrama, which he realised through winning a prize for one of his musical Futurist work ‘La Sina d’Vargoun’, based on one of Pratella’s free verse poems. As part of his monetary prize, he was able to put on a performance of that work, which received mixed reviews. Through his entry into Italian musical society, he was able to experience firsthand the ‘intellectual mediocrity’ and ‘commercial baseness’ that makes Italian music inferior to the Futurist evolution of music in other countries.

 1.  To convince young composers to desert schools, conservatories and musical academies, and to consider free study as the only means of regeneration.

 2.  To combat the venal and ignorant critics with assiduous contempt, liberating the public from the pernicious effects of their writings.

 3.  To found with this aim in view, a musical review that will be independent and resolutely opposed to the criteria of conservatory professors and to those of the debased public

 4.  To abstain from participating in any competition with the customary closed envelopes and related admission charges, denouncing all mystifications publicly , and unmasking the incompetence of juries , which are generally composed of fools and impotents. 

5. To keep at a distance from commercial or academic circles, despising them, and preferring a modest life to bountiful earnings acquired by selling art.

If you wish to find more of Pratella’s futurist rules, read our article on the influential movement here!

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