The first decades of the nineteenth century see the spread of new popular dances in the contryside near Reggio Emilia: waltz, mazurka and polka. The music came from far away places but it immediately became popular, mixing its melodies, rhythms and a new way of playing with the old rural music that characterized this territory. Liscio (a type of ballroom music) is born and this new trend in music becomes a rather unique phenomenon precisely in Santa Vittoria (in the province of Reggio Emilia). In Santa Vittoria the music was played with string instruments, in small orchestral groups of five players that were formed within each family. Towards the end of the nineteenth century this village becomes so legendary that the people of the lowlands near Reggio Emilia began to call it “Paese dei Cento Violini” (The Town of the Hundred Fiddles). I Violini di Santa Vittoria are the only representatives of this musical tradition. They were born in 2001 as part of a wider project to rediscover the history of ballroom music in the Reggio Emilia area.
Why Denominazione d'Origine Popolare [Popular Designation of Origin]? First of all because this record is the work of an academic group of musicians who proudly claim their popular choice. Secondly, all the songs in this record are closely linked to their territory and cultural identity. The Bagnolis' and the Carpis' music indirectly reaveals the terrible life of the hired hands of Reggio Emilia. Such desperate social condition forced the women and the men from Santa Vittoria to find and a gentle yet revolutionary way out. The stories that accompany the music tell about the rural life of these families and remind us of the so called filòs [stable tales]. Finally, the last and most important reason for choosing such a title, the Alpha and the Omega of this work: Denominazione d'Origine Popolare has been totally funded by the people, namely our public. Being at the dawn of a new beginning, we feel we can claim it even more strongly: the story of the hired hands from Santa Vittoria has just begun again.