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Florence in the 1930s was a vibrant centre of intellectual and artistic activity, with cultural magazines such as Solaria, Il Selvaggio, Il Frontespizio, Letteratura and Campo di Marte representing strongly contrasting positions on literary, artistic, musical and architectural issues.
Even within the same magazine there was a keen and lively debate among painters, musicians and literary figures such as Montale, who directed the Gabinetto Vieusseux from 1929 to 1938.
A crucial topic in the debate was the human figure, balancing between the legacy of the Renaissance artists and such International figures as Hildebrand, Berenson and de Chirico. A performance by the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino was emblematic of the condition of modern man: Volo di notte by Luigi Dallapiccola, staged on 18 May 1940, less than a month before Italy so dramatically entered the war.