Many do not know this name. And yet the activity of this praised orchestra director, composer and self made man, produced in a great part abroad, should be known especially to the Italians that he advertised and supported and helped. Neglia is a native of Enna, born on May 22, 1874. His youth is more or less equal to that of other musicians and therefore it has the unmistakable characteristics of the artist. His father, the director of the town band, taught him the violin and the trombone.
The instinctive call towards a serious and regular course of musical experience could not be followed at once, for financial reasons were against it. After eighteen years we find young Neglia as elementary school teacher in his native town. However, one day the novice teacher takes himself away from the school and from his town, to create himself director of an Opera troop.
Launched in art we find him again some time after in Palermo received with fatherly interest by William Zuelli, then director of a music conservatory, and out of which, just in that period of time came out the finest minds that today the Nation can boast in the musical field in general and especially in the lyric one. (Marinuzzi, Mule, Donaudy, Cuscina, etc.)
In 1900 he gets the diploma of composer teacher and the following year (who has already individualized his marked directorial tendency) settles in Hamburg, where he explicates largely his brilliant career among the consent of the experts and the public. And organizing soul, gifted with an uncommon musical talent, he founded a music Conservatory which in a short time counts more than 500 students and directs the local symphony concerts which in a short time classify and among the greatest interpreters of the nine Beethoven symphonies. This procuring him invitations to conduct the greatest orchestras of Berlin, Kiel, Bad-Nauheim, Frankfort on Mein and at last the famous Stadt Theater at Felix Weingartner’s side.
Out of this history we can already make a clear idea of the spiritual and cultural heights of our Artist, as a highborn artist and who in a short time conquers abroad the supremacy among the international orchestra directors. To this aim let us refer to a critical document of the Hamburg Fremdenblatt which regards him "the difficulties that are met for the performance of Bruckner’s symphonies may be a justification never to hazard their execution: with an orchestra, which can interpret the nine symphonies of Bruckner as our Musik Freunde Orchestra has interpreted it, everything can be dared. The execution was on an excellent beauty and of a penetrating truth. To have led the orchestra to this perfection is behind discussion a merit of Professor Neglia.
Among his numerous artistic affirmations it must not be forgotten that in commemoration of Beethoven and the other also commemorative of Verdi. Nor must be forgot in his friendly relations with our greatest musicians, his contemporaries among whom M. Henry Bossi, whose principal symphonic works he made known, keeping high abroad the good name of the Italian art.
President in many associations he never fails to carry to his countrymen did here far away father was reading, and to this, in moments of grief, the grateful sons help. So in the occasion of the Messina earthquake (1908) Neglia organized and directed a grand concert which yielded the net proceeds of 25,000 francs, devolved by hand to the survivors of the disaster, (a very substantial amount for that epoch). His name and fame had become popular in the whole of Germany.
Having so reached this summit of his fortuitous activity, the unlucky day on August 2nd 1914 falls on his fate, which with the incoming of the Great War had to overturn so many things in the entire world, and also our acclaimed orchestra director, cut off all of a sudden his luminous career. Francesco Paolo Neglia could not resist to the whole of the fatherland in arms. He hastened to it, coming back home with his whole family and losing all his property. Soon the real embarrassments made them selves felt.
In Italy to nothing amounted the good offices of Richard Strauss, of Siegfried of Wagner, of M.E. Bossi, of Zuelli and even the personal concern of her Majesty the Queen Mother to procure him an even modest position of work: off his work. His countryman remained feeling less to all the authoritative references, to the entreaties, to every feeling of the most human and friendly hell. The mark of the real ingratitude, in the deaf comprehension end of the bitter undeceiving "so frequent and artists life", had decisively manifested itself for the poor Neglia, cool, pressed away more lighthearted needs, at last makes recourse to his diploma of elementary teacher and the schools of his native Enna find him again for the period of a quinquennium.
His strong temper of outiring worker from a kid in Chile exposed himself again to the examination at the Royal University of Palermo, obtaining the diploma of teacher in the German language. He taught this language to the technical Institute of Caltanissetta and Legnano, wear at last he succeeded in creating a new music Institute Giuseppe Verdi, which certainly what have had a great future, if his untimely death had not caught in July 1932.
Face the existence struggling and anyhow over, on a strong son of Sicily; face is the Calvary of in authentic musician, of a good and generous man. Love that disappeared it remains, besides the critical and photographic documents of his life, an artistic patrimony of varied and interesting compositions of his that offers us the opportunity of thoroughly knowing, as he deserves it, his musical physiognomy. And I like to last hear the works I have read healer compliance: orchestra and choruses Symphony - Venetian suite for grant orchestra-Quartet for bows and piano - trio - Sonata for violin and piano-Zelia. A Lyric Opera in three at and much other Western music, part published by Leipsic, Hamburg and Genoa editors, and part published yet.
From Maestro Neglia’s production, it detaches neatly the physiognomy onto a musician nourished with very good and rather classical studies, where it does not overhanging the impetus of his exuberant temperament, burning with Southern warmth, unaltered by the northern temperatures so favorable to him in the dawn of his artistic career. We don’t want to make comparisons, nor raise the work of our musician above his real values, which are however above discussion today that it is looked at with a limpid eye and with a soul absolutely objective.
We believe however too dutiful to point out to the Italian musicians Francesco Paolo Neglia’s name, activities and works, as an apostle of music and of the Italian spirit abroad. This very noble feeling, which to the deceased artist caused the sacr ifice of a whole existence, claims its sacred mortal rights. Today that it is hoped that a feeling of honesty and justice may return from the useless rhetoric, where for too long time it has been away, two waits to the acknowledgment of his own forgotten existence. Acknowledgment that limits itself to the remembrance of his works of art, which, as a synthetic reminder of a noble intelligence, May and must survive when they had in them vital elements of artistic interest at any time they may appear.
--Signed: Mario Barbieri, a well-known teacher composer and professor in the music conservatory Paganini of Genoa.