From contemporaneous reviews
“The festival, which was attended by 165 composers, artists, delegates, and members of the society from all parts of the world took place in the midst of sunshine and orange blossoms. The programmes were of a very extensive nature, and included, not only the latest works, but also earlier compositions by members of the society. Probably the most outstanding of all was a performance of Schonberg’s Pierrot Lunaire, sung by Marya Freund, the soloist in its first world presentation 30 years ago.”
— Dorian Le Gallienne (?, attributed to “D. O’S.”), “Movements in Music: The Sicily Festival,”
The Argus (Melbourne, Australia), 9 July 1949, p. 14.
“Nothing world-shaking took place at either the 23rd Festival of the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM, Palermo-Taormina, April 22-30) or the First Congress for Dodecaphonlc Music (Milan, May 4-7). The quantity of music was not great on either occasion, since in Sicily elaborate arrangements had been made to acquaint the visitors with Greek ruins and Norman-Saracenic architecture, while in Milan the twenty-odd composers who gathered there found talk about the twelve tones more engaging than the twelve tones themselves. … [[O]ver one-fourth of the music in the 1949 ISCM Festival programs was written by officials in the organization. … [T]he Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma della Radio ltaliana, … regardless of its conductor, requires the filtering process of radio broadcasting in order to make its characteristic weaknesses of rhythm, sonority, and intonation in the least endurable.”
— John Cage, “Contemporary Music Festivals are Held in Italy,” Musical America, June 1949, p. 3.
“The varied survey of the world’s music at Palermo did not yield particularly striking results, but these festivals are of paramount importance for musicians and composers who wish to know the trends developing in present-day music. … [T]he I.S.C.M. remains one of the few world organizations that manages to continue its work clear of political interference.”
— Peter Emanuel Gradenwitz, “International Music in Sicily,” The Palestine Post, 20 May 1949, p. 5.
“Og selvom ikke alt klappede med nordisk praeelsion, så var det præget af ægte italiensk grandezza, der bidrog til at gøre festen til en uforglemmelig oplevelse for os begunstigede, der fik lov til at overvære den.”
(“Although not everything was organized with Nordic precision, it was characterized by real Italian grandezza, which helped to make the festival an unforgettable experience for the beneficiaries who were allowed to attend it.”)
— Johan Bentzon, “Musikfesten i Palermo,” DMT Årgang, Vol. 24 No. 06 (1949), p. 130.
“Si a nadie mereció reparos el haberse escogido las ciudades de Palermo y Taormina como centro para estos Festivales, a quienes pesan en la misma balanza la belleza e interés de estas tierras con la distancia que debe salvarse para llegar a ellas, parecióles no ser el lugar más indicado para realizar estas jornadas de música.”
(“If the cities of Palermo and Taormina were chosen as the center for these Festivals, those who weigh in the same balance the beauty and interest of these lands with the distance that must be crossed to reach them, it seemed to them not to be the place more suitable to carry out these music days.”)
— Juan Orrego-Salas, “XXIII Festival de Música Contemporánea de Palermo y Taormina,”
Revista Musical Chilena No. 34 (June-July 1949), p. 34.