- Francesco Rocco Rossi, Val più la pratica della grammatica: l’approccio mensuralistico del Liber Musices di Florentius. Abstract.
- Mariateresa Dellaborra, The Judgment of Paris(1740), pastorale di Giuseppe Sammartini. Abstract.
- Francesca Menchelli-Buttini, Majo, Piccinni, Sala per il Regolo di Jommelli (Napoli, 1761). Abstract.
- Guido Salvetti, «Ho detto male di... Verdi». Saggio di ricezione negativa. Abstract.
- Marco Brighenti, Del profondo e di altri oracoli. Profezie e pericoli negli ultimi scritti di Richard Wagner. Abstract.
- Giulia Albertario, L’aviatore Dro di Francesco Balilla Pratella. Abstract.
- Fiamma Nicolodi, Gli esordi della Scuola di Vienna in Italia fino alla seconda guerra mondiale. Abstract.
Autori e collaboratori
Francesco Rocco Rossi
Val più la pratica della grammatica: l’approccio mensuralistico del Liber Musices di Florentius
The Liber Musices (I-Mt 2146), written between 1484 and 1492 by a «Florentius musicus», was commissioned by Ascanio Maria Sforza. Although its three books aim to address all aspects of the ars musica (from the theorica to thepractica musices), its chartae show that the author feared that high theoretical speculation would be too difficult for Ascanio Sforza. This is confirmed, for example, by the simplifications of speculative arguments that could lead to a level of notrequired complexity. Of particular interest is the explanation of the late 15th century mensural system. First, because its pedagogical approach is purged of any theoretical subtleties; the subject is not treated in a mathematical perspective,but only as sensitive or performative phenomenon. This is why Florentius often intermixes and equates mensural levels that in a ‘theoretical’ perspective should be considered different and incomparable. Once we restore the correct analytical perspective, it becomes possible to rebuilt a coherent mensural view and, most importantly, that differs from the contemporary theories proposed by Tinctoris and Gaffurio.
Maria Teresa Dellaborra
The Judgment of Paris (1740), pastorale di Giuseppe Sammartini
Giuseppe Sammartini was born into a family of musicians. In 1728 he decided to emigrate from Milan, where he had started a promising career as a composer and instrumentalist, first to Brussels, where he stayed for a few months, and then to London, where he became part of the artistic and cultural life of the city. In London he was active both as an instrumentalist - he was renowned for his amazing virtuoso skills - and as a member of several cultural institutions (the Society of the Temple of Apollo, the Opera of the Nobility, and the Royal Society of Musicians) where music was only one of the several practiced arts. Since 1736, while employed by Frederick, the Prince of Wales, he also devoted himself to the composition of several vocal and instrumental pieces. The Judgment of Paris, a pastoral piece written in 1740 on a text by William Congreve, set in music in 1701 by John Weldon, John Eccles, Daniel Purcell, and Godfrey Finger, is particularly interesting. A thorough analysis of this previously almost undetected score allows to emphasize Sammartini’s role in the musical life of the time, still strongly influenced by Corelli’s model and in which musicians like Handel and Geminiani were active. By creating a blend of elements drawn from his studies in Milan and his later experiences in Venice and London, the composer was able to create a concrete and effective example of cultural syncretism. Finally, I discuss the role of Sammartini’s music within the London context, its meaning and future developments, and I consider in particular the long-lasting posthumous success of many of his works as well as the numerous nineteenth-century interpretations and arrangements.
Majo, Piccinni, Sala per il Regolodi Jommelli (Napoli, 1761)
This article explores the revival of Niccolò Jommelli’s Attilio Regolo (Rome, 1753) staged at Teatro di San Carlo on 23rd March 1761 under the dir-ection of Nicola Sala. It was a joint revision by Sala, Francesco De Majo and Niccolò Piccinni, mostly based on theatrical considerations or on the singer’s abilities. The names of all composers appear in one of the two manuscripts held by the Library of Ajuda. Their roles are examined with regards to some of the most controversial issues. I discuss the complex relationship between Metastasio’s libretto, Jommelli’s music, and the Neapolitan revival, in order to address the questions of revision and of the creation of a new dramatic balance. A major adjustment is the addition of Domenico Alberti’s aria, «Ah! frenate il pianto imbelle», from Metastasio’s Temistocle, for the final chorus. This was probably suggested by the singer Anton Raaf, who loved this type of aria. Metastasio expressed objections on the hiring of Raaf in his correspondence with the princess of Belmonte, patroness of the reknown tenor. The letters highlight the poet’s expectations for the main character, Regolo. These letters prove particularly useful, especially when they are compared with the avvertimenti sent in a letter to Hasse in 1749. Finally, I explore in greater detail the arias given to Regolo, which I believe are especially relevant in the way they offer an opportunity to highlight the role of music in theatrical expression and representation.
«Ho detto male di... Verdi». Saggio di ricezione negativa
This essay discusses aspects of Verdi’s reception and fathoms the reasons of the resentful debates, biased attitudes, and specious reservations that characterized his entire life and climaxed in the years right after his death. Nationalism is not the only reason: in some cases, on the contrary, some foreign critics blamed Verdi for not being Italian enough... In general, critics were not able to grasp the evolution of Verdi’s choices and, as a consequence, they prompted pointless debates about Verdi’s models, the lack of a Verdi’s ‘school’, his hypothetical subjugation to Wagner, and so on. At the core of these critiques that characterized the reception of nineteenth-century Italian opera as a whole, of which Verdi was simply the most prominent representative, there was the growing elitism of Italian intellectuals. This attitude reached its peak with the Futurist and, more generally, Modernist movements. Verdi’s fault was, allegedly, to represent the age of realism in music at its apex. The unanimous praise of Falstaff, then, sounded worse than an outright blame against a manifold genius.
Del profondo e di altri oracoli. Profezie e pericoli negli ultimi scritti di Richard Wagner
This essay retraces aspects of philosophical, political and aesthetic thought from the last years of Richard Wagner’s life. The main goal is to offer an interpretation of the various facets of the core of his reas-oning: the dialectic between the concepts of ‘depth’ and that of ‘surface’. It is a notion that Wagner first theorized in his Beethoven in 1870, but that accompanies the musician from his youth as his own poetic vision. Thus, although mostly focused on the musician’s latest writings of the musician, this essay frequently draws from Wagner’s earlier works in order to trace the development of this idea. The rationale is centered on the philosophy of Schopenhauer: Wagner identifies the ‘surface’ with the world of Representation and the ‘depth’ with that of the Will. Unlike the philosopher of Gdansk, who views the body as a fragment of the world capable of revealing the Will, Wagner identifies the cry (and, similarly, music) and the blood as the two phenomena which reveal the Depth. From these two phenomena, ever-present in Parsifal, we will focus on the last Wagnerian drama, the bearer of a soteriology that, after an immersion in the depths of the Will of Tristan, seeks to positively reconcile the two dimensions of the ‘depth’ and the ‘surface’.
L’aviatore Dro di Francesco Balilla Pratella
This essay analyzes the only futurist lyric opera of aerial subject ever written, L’aviatore Dro by Francesco Balilla Pratella, premiered, after a long gestation, on September 4th 1920 at the Teatro Rossini in Lugo di Romagna. It is a tragic poem in three acts on a libretto by the same author that interprets a recent story happened in Lugo as a modern myth: a wealthy provincial dandy, tumbled down because of gambling, had joined the aviation and had lost his life in flight. Even though the première received critical and public acclaim, and Marinetti himself supported the opera and promoted it among many impresari to set up new repeats, L’aviatore Dro was staged again only in 1996. As a consequence, today it is still mentioned in the literature only as evidence of the many provocations and oddities of Futurism. This is due to some from inner contradictions of the opera, so that scholars have debated if this opera could be legitimately considered as ‘futurist’, since its author is equally divided between the impulse of renovation and the attachment to the musical traditions of his land, Emilia Romagna. The music does not show the newness in style that futurist manifests had proclaimed. The libretto is the main target for those critics who have misunderstood the real meaning of D’Annunzio’s influences. The true innovations, as Marinetti confesses in his Taccuini, are more importantly to be searched in the ideological implant that sustains the opera and in its scenic design, about which we have poor knowledge.
Gli esordi della Scuola di Vienna in Italia fino alla seconda guerra mondiale
This essay discusses some linguistic issues related to the use - often ambiguous and imprecise - of the terms dodecaphony (whose use is attested in Italy since the 1910s and in contexts that are extraneous to the compositional system introduced by Schönberg in 1923), atonality and pantonality. Consideration of terminological and conceptual ambiguities that attain to ‘dodecaphony’ leads to an inquiry about the School of Vienna and to the reconstruction of the historical and cultural contexts that accompanied the reception of this movement in Italy. Starting from the very beginning of the twentieth century, and until ca. 1945, we can identify three stages. The first, which continues until the 1920s, is characterized by an approach that is both open and inquisitive. This approach, however, also displays elements of bias and hostility toward Schönberg’s music. In the second stage - datable to the mid-1930s and marked by fascist cultural politics - is the music and figure of Alban Berg to be privileged among the exponents of the Wiener Schule. The third period, beginning with the aftermath of WWII, is characterized instead by a new reception of dodecaphonic music that was facilitated also by the reopening of the channels of communication with the Società Internazionale di Musica Contemporanea (these contacts had been interrupted in 1939). This essay also discusses the role and influence that several Italian composers or critics had in the diffusion, knowledge, and promotion (or, at the contrary, the refusal) of dodecaphony in Italy. Special attention is given to Luigi Dallapiccola, Alfredo Casella, Carlo Somigli, Gian Francesco Malipiero, Ildebrando Pizzetti.