(1774-1780). A French musico-political faction, who contended that pure Italian music is higher art than the mixed German school. In other words, that music is the Alpha and Omega of opera, and the dramatic part is of very minor importance.
Niccolo Piccino, of Naples (1728-1801), was the rival of Christopher Gluck, of Bohemia, and these two musicians gave birth to a long paper war. Those who sided with the Italian were called Piccinists, those who sided with the German were called Gluckists.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894