»Il Polifonico is not an end, it is a means: a means to popularize polyphonic music as much as possible.« (Luigi Colacicchi)

The International Guido d’Arezzo Polyphonic Contest dates back to 1952 when a group of citizens and music lovers dreamed to bring new life to the polyphonic tradition.

Guido d’Arezzo, Benedictine monk and inventor of the notation method, is universally considered to be among the personalities that deeply influenced the Western music culture. Even so, Renaissance polyphonic music was in need of a breath of fresh air when in 1950 the Roman Polyphonic Choir of Accademia di Santa Cecilia was invited to hold an event in Arezzo. The enthusiasm shown by the public in that occasion was an inspiration to the founders of the Contest. Two years later the first edition’s success surpassed all expectations; the initiative was replicated and already became International in 1953.

During the 1950s and 1960s, »il Polifonico« saw the participation of names such as Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Luigi Colacicchi, W. S. Gwynn Williams, Hans Gillesberger, Benjamin Britten and obtained national and international fame, setting an example for the similar contests held in Gorizia and Debrecen, Tolosa and Tours.

While being a beacon for musicians around the world, the Contest contributed to the diffusion of a new interest for choral music with classes and conventions, also thanks to the Fondazione Guido d’Arezzo, founded in 1985. Since then the Foundation has kept expanding its offer with new projects: the School for Choral Conductors, the Guidoneum, the magazine »Polifonie«.

To this day, il Polifonico remains a unique experience of musical excellence, artistic research and hospitality.


The International Guido d’Arezzo Polyphonic Contest is held in some of the most important monuments of the city, all of them of considerable historic and artistic value: the Medieval churches and the Francesco Petrarca Theatre. The Festival of Folk Music is set around the charming Duomo.