Luigi Picchi learned the rudiments of music from his father Faustino, a self-taught organist, and later studied with the Pavia-based teachers Giovanni Baroni and Franco Vittadini in preparation for admission to the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory in Milan in 1909.
The first phase of his musical activity saw him engaged in the concert and operatic life of the province as well as composing: instrumental and vocal works, a Requiem Mass (1922) and musical accompaniments for the Passione di Cristo (1925) to a text by Don Ennio Bernasconi.
In Como, Picchi’s true vocation, for sacred music, was able to be realized: as a boy he had had the opportunity to play for liturgical services on the Sairano organ and, as a young student at the Conservatory, he had continued this activity in villages in the surroundings of Milan.
He also composed pieces for organ which were featured in L’Organista italiano (1922–26) and I Maestri dell’Organo (1931), journals issued by the Carrara music publishing house of Bergamo, whose founder Vittorio Carrara was astute enough to sense and appreciate Picchi’s talents: his artistic substance as well as the playability of his music and its suitability for the liturgy. In 1932 Carrara entrusted him with the editorship of a new journal, L’Organista liturgico, which he held until 1943.
Alongside his music for organ Picchi also composed vocal works for use by the cathedral choir as well as amateur choral groups and public assemblies, including various motets as well as masses (Cristo risusciti, 1932; Italica, 1940; Christus vincit, 1941) and also educational music (theatrical sketches, school songs) and theoretical works (Scuola moderna di Teoria e Solfeggio, 1941–44).
His wish to set the text of the mass in an appropriate manner together with his faithfulness to Cecilian ideals led Picchi to the innovations of his Missa Misericors Deus (1949), published by Ricordi together with the masses in honour of San Nicolao della Flüe (1947) and San Pio X (1954) and his collections of Christmas Carols (1947) and Easter Songs (1950–54).
In 1954 Picchi established a new journal on organ music, Laus Decora; operating from Como, it was issued over the course of a decade with associated publications from the Schola music publishing house and introduced readers to a wide range of vocal compositions by Picchi, including various songs and motets, the masses Rex pacificus (1945), In onore di Maria Vergine Assunta (1950) and Auxilium Christianorum (1960) as well as various school songs and educational works (Nuovo Corso di Solfeggio, 1954; Metodo teorico-pratico per lo studio dell’Armonio e del Pianoforte, 1956).
The resumption of his collaboration with the Carrara publishing house coincided with the implementation of the liturgical reforms as stipulated by the Second Vatican Council, of which Picchi had already been a precursor in his interpretative consistency as well as his involvement of the assembly of the faithful, namely in his songs for Il popolo alla messa, 1953, written in collaboration with Don Luigi Agustoni and Don Silvano Albisetti. His greatest success in this field was the Messa Vaticano II (1965) followed by the Messa dei Defunti (1966) and the Messa Apostolica (1968).
Picchi’s organ output included compositions written for later editions of Laus Decora (1966–67) as well as for the journal I Fiori dell’Organo (1968–70).
· Recorded December 2021 & February–April 2022 at the Balbiani Vegezzi-Bossi organ (1901/1919/1951), Barozzi Hall of the Isituti dei Chiechi, Milan, Italy
· Booklet in English contains liner notes by the composer’s son, Alessandro Picchi, a stop list of the organ and a profile of the artist
- Luigi Picchi (1899-1970) was an Italian composer and organist known for his remarkable contributions to organ music. His works encompass a wide range of styles and genres, reflecting his deep understanding of the instrument and his ability to blend traditional techniques with modern harmonies.
- Picchi's organ works are characterized by their rich tonal palette, virtuosic passages, and profound emotional depth. He possessed a keen sense of musical architecture, employing intricate counterpoint and skillful manipulation of registration to create awe-inspiring compositions. His works often explore the full capabilities of the organ, utilizing its vast range of timbres and dynamics to evoke a wide range of moods and emotions.
- One of Picchi's notable achievements was his ability to seamlessly incorporate elements of Italian baroque and classical traditions into his compositions, while also embracing the innovations of the 20th century. His music often features elaborate ornamentation, dramatic gestures, and powerful chordal progressions reminiscent of the great organ masters of the past, yet he infuses them with a distinctive harmonic language and rhythmic complexity that reflects his own artistic voice.
- Throughout his career, Picchi composed numerous organ works, including preludes, fugues, toccatas, and chorale variations.
- On this new recording Italian organist Paolo Bottini plays the Carlo Vegezzi-Bossi organ (1901) in the Barozzi Hall of Istituti dei Chiechi, Milan, Italy. This magnificent instrument is undoubtedly one of the most perfect, complete and intact examples (without stylistic alterations) of a great Italian romantic/symphonic organ of the early twentieth century, the golden age of the evolution of this instrument in Italy. The organ’s full specifications are included in the booklet.