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. Below is his list of rules.
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.
6. The liberation of individual musical sensibility from all imitation or influence of the past, feeling and singing with the spirit open to the future, drawing inspiration and aesthetics from nature, through all the human and extra-human phenomena present in it. Exalting the man-symbol everlastingly renewed by the varied aspects of modern life and its infinity of intimate relationships with nature
7. To destroy the prejudice for “well-made” music—rhetoric and impotence—to proclaim the unique concept of Futurist music, as absolutely different from music to date, and so to shape in Italy a Futurist musical taste, destroying doctrinaire, academic and soporific values, declaring the phrase “let us return to the old masters” to be hateful, stupid and vile.
8. To proclaim that the reign of the singer must end, and that the importance of the singer in relation to a work of art is the equivalent of the importance of an instrument in the orchestra.
9. To combat categorically all historical reconstructions and traditional stage sets and to declare the stupidity of the contempt felt for contemporary dress.
10. To combat the type of ballad written by Tosti and Costa, nauseating Neapolitan songs and sacred music which, having no longer any reason to exist, given the breakdown of faith, has become the exclusive monopoly of impotent conservatory directors and a few incomplete priests.
11. To provoke in the public an ever-growing hostility towards the exhumation of old works which prevents the appearance of innovators, to encourage the support and exaltation of everything in music that appears original and revolutionary, and to consider as an honor the insults and ironies of moribunds and opportunists.
12. To transform the title and value of the “operatic libretto” into the title and value of “dramatic or tragic poem for music”, substituting free verse for metric structure. Every opera writer must absolutely and necessarily be the author of his own poem.