5th World Congress of Music Therapy, Genoa 1985

Giovanna Mutti Calcinai interviewed by Interview Co-Editor Barbara Wheeler

I am pleased to introduce material on the 5th World Congress of Music Therapy, chaired by Giovanna Mutti and held in Genoa, Italy, in 1985. In addition to its value as an opportunity for people from various countries to share their music therapy work, this congress was important because it is where the World Federation of Music Therapy (WFMT) was established. From this congress to the present, therefore, the world congresses and the WFMT move forward together.

In addition to the varied material presented here, I encourage readers to look at the website for the World Federation for Music Therapy - which contains additional historical information – WFMT is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year - as well as information on the present work and structure of the WFMT.

I am grateful to those who provided information on the 5th World Congress of Music Therapy. Thank you to Giovanna Mutti, who chaired the congress and has been extremely helpful in sharing her memories and information from the congress. Thank you also to others who have provided pictures and memories, many of whom have now shared memories of multiple congresses for this series.

-Barbara Wheeler, Interview Editor -

Some Background for the Genoa Conference

Giovanna Mutti Calcinai, 1985 Giovanna Mutti Calcinai

Barbara Wheeler: How did you come to be in charge of the 5th World Congress of Music Therapy?

Giovanna Mutti Calcinai: I was President of the Italian Association of Music Therapy Studies (A.I.S.Mt.) and in this capacity was asked to be President of the 5th World Congress of Music therapy which took place in Genoa, Italy, from December 9-14, 1985.

After having participated in the 2nd and 3rd World Congress in 1983, already as President of the A.I.S.Mt. and music therapist at the Center of Rehabilitation of the A.N.F.F.A.S (National Association of the “Fanciulli Family Subnormal Adults”), I had the privilege to give two reports at the 4th World Congress in Paris: the first one, “the experimental project of Music Therapy which I had elaborated”, in collaboration with the team of the Center, was entitled “Sound self-production for the identification of communication channels in the disabled patients” which underlined the role of intervention in a primary musical-therapeutic progression of positive results, such as to allow development of specific programs of rehabilitation and integration, including other treatments, and programs at the first stage in a clear and basic procedure on my methodology. This paper was received with great interest and initiated an animated discussion about the questions for more detailed explanations.

The second paper clarified general guidelines for a Professional training school for music therapists in Italy (which was put into practice by the A.I.S.Mt. later) in three distinctive fields: the psycho-pedagogical area (different from other countries in Europe as disabled children are integrated in normal schools in Italy) the clinical-rehabilitative as well as the social-therapeutic field.

Obviously all topics which were discussed during this event were appreciated by the participants of the congress, especially by all the important representatives and influential participants. Jacques Jost, president of the French Congress invited me to explain our training guidelines to the students of his school.

At the end of the Congress, the representatives of the training committee of the music therapy’s World Federation invited me to join the committee in my role as President of the A.I.S.Mt. and unanimously elected the Italian Association of Music Therapy studies and me as its president to organize the 5th World Congress in Genoa where the association is based.

In 1985, the European Year dedicated to the music and the 10th anniversary of the association, the A.I.S.Mt. faced the important task of organizing the 5th World Congress, in collaboration with the Center A.N.F.F.A.S.

The important event has been under the Patronage of the President of the Republic, the Parliament and the seven most important Ministries, including the national Council of Research, as well as the highest public and private institutions of the city of Genoa.

From 9th to 14th December 1985, more than 500 Italian and international participants and research scientists of 32 countries representing schools and elite institutions of all five continents participated in this mondial event which was characterized by more than 100 reports and comunications, of four round tables about interdisciplinary areas, workshop poster sessions (as outlined in the program) which produced an organic image of the studies and research projects in the music therapeutic field which had been developed in precedent years all over the world.

Photo 1: Auriel Warwick, Ruth Bright, Ann Schmolz, Jacques Jost, Paolo Durand, Giovanna Mutti, Virginia Lonati Grillo, Barbara Hesser, Rolando Benenzon.

Auriel Warwick, Ruth Bright, Ann Schmolz, Jacques Jost, Paolo Durand, Giovanna Mutti, Virginia Lonati Grillo, Barbara Hesser, Rolando Benenzon.

Photo 2: Anna Frigerio, Marcello Sorce Keller, Paolo Durand, Auriel Warwick, Jane Schulz, Giovannai Cattanei, Aldo Moretti; Giovanna Mutti walking in front.

Anna Frigerio, Marcello Sorce Keller, Paolo Durand, Auriel Warwick, Jane Schulz, Giovannai Cattanei, Aldo Moretti; Giovanna Mutti walking in front

Photo 3: Prof. Giovanna Mutti, Prof. Rolando Benenzon.

Prof. Giovanna Mutti, Prof. Rolando Benenzon.

Photo 4: Translator, Rolando Benenzon, Giovanna Mutti

Translator, Rolando Benenzon, Giovanna Mutti

Photo 5: Anne Schmolz, Jacques Jost, Paolo Durand, Giovanna Mutti, unknown, Barbara Hesser, Rolando Benenzon.

Anne Schmolz, Jacques Jost, Paolo Durand, Giovanna Mutti, unnknown, Barbara Hesser, Rolando Benenzon.

Photo 6: The Authorities and all participants of the Congress.

The Authorities and all participants of the Congress.

Although Italy hasn’t had obtained academic and legal recognition in this discipline, like it could be found in the United States, in Argentina, Austria and Great Britain, the country has demonstrated that it has outperformed the leading countries and was ready to leave its volunteer and pioneer state behind – thanks to the effort of the A.I.S.Mt.

The Organisation of the Congress

BW: What type of structure did you use for the Congress?

Giovanna Mutti Calcinai: The Congress was divided in nine themes in order to highlight Music Therapy from different angles: the scientific inflexibility which was the starting point for the Congress has always limited the discussion aiming at a positive and better knowledge of this discipline.

A large cultural package was bundled incorporating various aspects of research not only medical, psychological, pedagogical or musical views but also human scientific angles like I personally had wanted and been searching for after the experience gained at earlier congresses in order to translate and estimate the various operational opportunities of the Music Therapy future.

Under the complex evolution of knowledge, the Music Therapy key for interpretation, it was vital to face the studies and researches in a more homogenised specific definition, not neglecting all directions, in order to reach a unified and general scientific theory according to a systematically correct and examined methodology. This was our goal.

BW: Can you please tell about some of the sessions?

Giovanna Mutti Calcinai: Due to special restrictions I can only present an inevitable short and partial image of the 6-day-congress. [Note: See the full conference program, V Congresso Mondiale di Musicoterapia] [Rune – please insert the conference program – from PDF file that I am sending – here; I assume it will be a link to it as it is quite long]

I consider the first round table with the topic “An outlook of Music Therapy in the world” vital, at which the exponents of the National Associations participated, especially: Rolando Benenzon (Argentina), Barbara Hesser (USA), Jolette Woolf (Austria), Ruth Bright (Australia), Jacques Jost (France), Louis Holtzausen (South Africa), Virginia Lonati Grillo (Italy), Yasuy Murai (Japan), Clementina Nastari (Brazil), Padma Murthy (India).

The connection between Music Therapy, Human Sciences and Education Sciences is highlighted at the round table in a wide range of measures including those of the most famous Italian pedagogue, Giovanni Cattanei, the great acoustic phjsicist Righini, the psychologist Anna Frigerio, the ethno-musicologist Marcello Sorce Keller, the English music therapist Auriel Warwick and the ethologist Mario Zanforlin.

At the round table with the topic “Professional training of the Music Therapist”, the high-level contributions of Schmolz (Austria), Oldfield (United Kingdom), Alexander (Canada), Benenzon (Argentina), Verdeau-Pailles (France), Moll (Germany) and Ruud (Norway) have shown that the preparation of the providers will be insufficient without scientific support and appropriate schools and the participants explained what has been done in their countries.

Joseph Moreno, Director of the School of Music Therapy in Saint Louis, held a scientific workshop about the subject “Musical psycho-drama” and Analytical music therapy on music improvisation as a prospective technique which the participants appreciated very much.

The Italian training is aimed at the pedagogue Giovanni Cattanei and myself, who have highlighted the inorganic and episodic problems in Italy, presenting the programme of the A.I.S.Mt’s triennial course in a precise and professional instructiont two fields of study: the psychopedagogic and the rehabilitative and therapeutic area with a diploma after completion of the studies. The programme was approved by the attending founders.

These reports have been outlined in the programme and also in the book titled “Music Therapy Reality and Future”, translated and strongly driven by myself and published in my charge in 1988 (probably the only book published in 30 years of World Congresses of Music Therapy) where a measure of contribution could be approached, offered at the congress by many experienced scientists, although under many diverse aspects and point of views but still from a standpoint of general refinement and a reality which is equivalent to the discipline of Music Therapy.

The publication has complied with the programme’s articulation within its wider angles of seven topics: interdisciplinary features, psycho-pedagogic features, rehabilitative features, pychotherapeutic features, Music Therapy in the world, and professional training school which have reflected the way paved by the 6-day congress.

And now it is important to mention some names, who, in their expertise, have defined the research as well as core theories and techniques for Music Therapy within the various and valid operational proposals. These include Jacques Jost, Rolando Benenzon, Amelia Oldfield, Antony Wigram, Ruth Bright, Verdeau Pailles, Gabriella Wagner and why not myself, who has presented the experimental project besides the Center A.N.F.F.A.S. in its global evaluation of achieved results by illustrating the complete methodology in practise. The wealth and relevance of the contributions taken, the validity of the esperimental work and the final conclusions of this high assembly have been exceptionally satisfying for the A.I.S.Mt. for Italy, and for the World.

There were many people from the A.I.S.Mt who helped make the congress successful. Unfortunately as time went by the valuable experts of that period passed away because of old age, illnesses or accidents. Here are some names: G. Cattanei, Paolo Michele Erede, Giorgio Moretti, Luigi Brian, Franco Colucci, Mario Laengh, E. Torti Mandirola, Paolo Durand, Pellegrino Ernetti, Giorgio Piumatti,Giovanni Bollea, Lucio Croatto, Pietro Righini, Franco Fornari, all great and well known personalities who have left a mark and have given a scientific supply to the A.I.S.Mt. and Music Therapy.

The Founding of the World Federation of Music Therapy

BW: Please tell some about the founding of the World Federation of Music Therapy, which occurred at this Congress.

Giovanna Mutti Calcinai: This was also the moment of the official foundation of the World Federation of Music Therapy, since the motives for exchanges of views and comparisons emerged from these three meetings of the delegated W.F.M.T. committee representatives between the various associations from different areas and cultures and were defined in an organic vision and with a common objective.

The statute constituted the aims, the structure, the tasks and the responsibilities of the ten members of different nationalities, naming President Rolando Benenzon (Argentina), Vice President and treasurer Jacques Jost (France), the General Secretary Giovanna Mutti (Italy), Barbara Hesser (USA) in Charge of Publications, Coordinator of the training and the World Congresses Ruth Bright (Australia), Coordinator of the professional role of Music Therapy Amelia Oldfield (Great Britain), Coordinator of the world organisations Rafael Rivera Colon (Puerto Rico).

[Insert PDF files – “Representatives to the 5th World Congress and Representatives of Committee for the World Federation Meeting” “Aims and Structure of WFMT”]

Clementina Nastari, President of the “Associacao Paulista de Musicoterapia” was appointed organizer of the 6th World Congress of Music Therapy which took place in Sao Paulo (Brazil) in July 1989.

The participants agreed unanimously that the 5th Congress of Music Therapy, during the week in Genoa, made contributions to the doctrine and humanity, to comparisons and discussions and caused thereby growth and maturity of the Music Therapy promoting the meeting and reciprocal acquaintance of the “movers and shakers”  in the sector, a field of scientific, ample, serious and delicate contributions, a field in which emerged common lines of diagnostic, methodologic, therapeutic branches which merged into the main subject, “the human being”, sciences, schools, techniques, cultures of the occident and orient.

[Insert PDF files - “Final Minutes of the Working Committee and National Representatives for the WFMT” and “Announcement to All Music Therapy Associations”]

Reflections on the Congress and the Current Status of A.I.S.Mt.

BW: Can you please share your overall reflections on this Congress?

Giovanna Mutti Calcinai: So today like yesterday I think it is necessary to underline that people of different doctrines have collaborated with the team of music therapists: Sound engineers, ethologists, epistemologists, etnomusicologists and others who brought their experiences in the specific sectors.

The story of the 5th World Congress makes me still proud because we should not forget that also this Congress has its origin like everything made by humans, is not only due to my name and my tenacity but to the teamwork of all collaborators of the A.I.S.Mt. and A.N.F.F.A.S. and that the success of this initiative which has done honor to our Country.

Our happy goodbye to future meeting in Brazil: Giorgio Piumatti, Jacques Jost, Olav Skille, Giovanna Mutti, Anna Frigerio, Rolando Benenzon, Ruth Bright, Auriel Warwick, Virginia Lonati Grillo, Jann Schulz.

The Authorities and all participants of the Congress.

BW: Could you please tell a little bit about what your association, A.I.S.Mt., has done since the Congress and is doing today?

Giovanna Mutti Calcinai: A.I.S.MtThe A.I.S.Mt., the Italian Association of Music Therapy Studies, was founded on the 30th June 1975. Chairman: Professor Giovanna Mutti; General Secretary: Professor Anselmo Susca. The Association is formed by the Assembly of Members, the Executive Board, the Chairman, the College of the Member of the Trade Council. The aim of the Association is to contribute to the knowledge, formation research and practice of Music Therapy.

Furthermore the Association promotes didactic activities, which lead to a deepening of the subject, organizes meeting, conventions, seminaries and other manifestations to diffuse the knowledge and practice of Music Therapy relating also to other expressive and therapeutical activities.

The activity of the A.I.S.Mt. is scientific, operative and promotional.

  • Scientific, as it supervises activities and experimentations carried out by its members in this specific field, checking their validity.
  • Operative, as the Music Therapy Centre is available to the community and to anyone who is in need. Moreover it supports the practical training of the students of the course and guarantees a constant supervision of the activities.
  • Promotional, as it organizes Training Courses for Music Therapists. Our activity consists in informative and training courses, stages, seminars and round-table conferences for a better knowledge of this emerging science.

The A.I.S.Mt. is reaching important aims:

The Italian School for the Professional Training of Music Therapist, which has been developing since 1990 with triennal courses.

The seminar of the twin towns of Nice (France) and Genoa (Italy) – Twinning seminar.

The seminar of the twin towns of Nice (France) and Genoa (Italy) – Twinning seminar.

From the School of A.I.S.Mt.

From the School of A.I.S.Mt.

From the School of A.I.S.Mt.

From the School of A.I.S.Mt.

From the School of A.I.S.Mt.

From the School of A.I.S.Mt.


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Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy (ISSN 1504-1611)