BFM 36 Opening in Santa Maria Maggiore

09 March
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore – Bergamo

As per tradition, the opening night of BFM36 will be characterized by a very special event in a unique and evocative setting, that of the Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica in the Città Alta in Bergamo. Playing the organ of the Basilica, Maestro Gerardo Chimini will live score a masterpiece of the silent film era (1924): The Last Laugh, by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau.

The Last Laugh  (Der letzte Mann) by F.W. Murnau (Germany, 1924, 77′, b/w)
With Emil Jannings, Maly Delschaft, Max Hiller, Emilie Kurz, Hans Unterkircher, Olaf Storm, Hermann Vallentin, Georg John, Emmy Wyda
The now ageing and seasoned usher of the Atlantic Hotel is proud of his job, his responsibilities and also his livery. On a rain and busy night, he’s resting briefly after carrying some heavy luggage under the pouring rain, and the manager walks in on him during such brief moment of weakness.  The following day he learns that he has been replaced and demoted to the degrading job of assistant cleaner. Stunned and humiliated, he tries his best to carry on with his life.
Original version with Italian subtitles.

Gerardo Chimini, graduated in piano with honours and cum laude, under the guide of M. Conter at the “Luca Marenzio” Conservatory of Music in Brescia, in 1972; he studied harmony and counterpoint with F. Margola, he perfected his piano studies with B. Mezzena and P. Borciani and D. De Rosa (chamber music). He played as a soloist and as a member of chamber music ensembles in Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Czech Republic. In 2010 he went to Japan for the third time, holding masterclasses and concerts. His activity as an organ soloist – a musical practice which he pursued since the beginning of his studies – led him to perform playing 19th century instruments, transcribing repertoire by Bach, Verdi, Liszt, Weber, Wagner, Prokofieff, Rachmaninoff, Rossini, Bartok. Commissioning contemporary composers with pieces for 19th century organs, contributed to rediscover the expressive potentiality of such instruments, usually confined to a traditional repertoire. He played with world renowned artists such as Uto Ughi, Tierry Caens, Andreas Blau (first flute of the Berliner Philarmoniker), Michel Bequet and Nobuiko Asaeda. He teaches piano at the S. Cecilia Diocesan School of Music in Brescia.

Built in 1915 by Carlo Vegezzi Bossi, and later expanded and restored by the Fratelli Ruffatti workshop in 1948 and 1992, the pipe organ rests on the two choirs along the side walls of the apse. The organ’s transmission is electric, and the independent console is located in the presbytery, near the main altar; it has three 61-notes keyboards and a 32-note concave-radial pedalboard.

The Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore is the church that, more than any other, the Early Church Fathers wanted to be like a Biblia Pauperum, a Bible of the poor: a place where, through the beauty of art, anyone could understand the meaning of the word of God and the spiritual contents of sacred literature. Also called the “votive chapel of the city”, Santa Maria Maggiore includes a variety of heterogeneous styles and arts, from the periods between the XII and the XIX century, where religious themes coexist with secular, if not pagan altogether, elements. In this church, everything that meets the eye has a teaching purpose: all the imagery, the paintings and artistic masterpieces are intended to stimulate the visitor to reach inside that spiritual dimension that dwells in each of us. In 1137, at the presence of the bishop Gregorius and all the citizens, the founding stone of the Basilica was laid. While the church exterior has largely maintained its original Romanesque architecture, the interior has undergone significant changes through time; the Basilica has an octagonal tiburium and a Greek cross plan enriched, originally, by 5 apses: a large central one and four small ones at the sides of the transept. In 1472, however, the small north-west apse was demolished by order of Bartolomeo Colleoni, who erected there his personal mausoleum.

In collaboration with: 

The opening event is made possible thanks to the 5×1000 tax contribution and the invaluable support of the donors of the #SupportBFM campaign.


Free admission.
Reservations mandatory: write to [email protected] specifying name, e-mail address and phone number.
The Basilica is not heated, we recommend warm clothing. The entrance will take place exclusively on the side of Piazza Vecchia. Doors open at 8:00 PM

How to get to Santa Maria Maggiore.
The Basilica is located in Piazza Duomo, Città Alta.
From the city centre and from the ATB station, Funicular Line 1 or Line 3 to Città Alta.
There are paid parking stalls on Viale delle Mura.
Città Alta can also be reached on foot, in approximately 30′.