The Italian Traditions & Puccini: Compositional Theory and Practice in Nineteenth-Century Opera

The Italian Traditions & Puccini: Compositional Theory and Practice in Nineteenth-Century Opera

The Italian Traditions & Puccini: Compositional Theory and Practice in Nineteenth-Century Opera

The Italian Traditions & Puccini: Compositional Theory and Practice in Nineteenth-Century Opera

Synopsis

In this groundbreaking survey of the fundamentals, methods, and formulas that were taught at Italian music conservatories during the 19th century, Nicholas Baragwanath explores the compositional significance of tradition in Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi, Boito, and, most importantly, Puccini. Taking account of some 400 primary sources, Baragwanath explains the varying theories and practices of the period in light of current theoretical and analytical conceptions of this music. The Italian Traditions and Puccini offers a guide to an informed interpretation and appreciation of Italian opera by underscoring the proximity of archaic traditions to the music of Puccini.

Excerpt

The Italian musical tradition was not a unified whole but an aggregate of diverse regional traditions. There were a number of recognized musical centers and institutions, within which individual maestros passed on their own compilations and interpretations of earlier teachings to successive generations. Although the distinctions between them became increasingly blurred during the period of the Risorgimento, it is nevertheless possible to identify specific lineages in pedagogy, theory, and practice throughout the nineteenth century. These traditions were proud to trace their origins back to the Renaissance, post-Josquin, as Padre Giovanni Battista Martini (1706–84)—pedagogue, antiquarian, maestro di cappella at the church of San Francesco, and prominent member of the Accademia Filarmonica in Bologna—noted in his overview of the main Italian “schools.” There was the Scuola Romana deriving from Giovanni Pier-Luigi da Palestrina (1525–94), Giovanni-Maria Nanini [sic] (ca. 1543–1607), his younger brother Giovanni-Bernardino (ca. 1560–1618), Orazio Benevoli (1605–72), and Francesco Foggia (1604–88). Developing in parallel was a Scuola Napolitana involving Rocco Rodio (ca. 1535–1615), Alessandro Scarlatti (1660–1725), Leonardo Leo (1694–1744), and Francesco Durante (1684–1755). The Scuola Veneta (called Scuola Veneziana by later authors), which encompassed Padua and Verona as well as Venice, could boast a similarly exalted heritage in Adriano Willaert (ca. 1490–1562), Giuseppe [sic] Zarlino da Chiozza [sic] (1517–90), and Antonio Lotti (1666–1740). The Scuola Lombarda included musicians not only from Milan and the surrounding towns of Lodi, Brescia . . .

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