POLYTONALITY, POLYRHYTHM (Music theory), and COMPOSERS
Alfredo Casella (1883–1947) wrote hisPagine di guerra(War Pages) for two pianos in 1915, giving them the programmatic subtitle “four musical films.” Inspired by contemporary movies, the original version of this brief work was made up of four pieces evoking scenes of war in different countries: Belgium, France, Russia, and Alsace; in 1918 Casella added a fifth “War Page” set in Italy. In this set he experimented in a new musical language based on polytonality and polyrhythms that were influenced by Stravinsky, Bartók, and Schönberg. While it is difficult to identify which films may have directly influenced Casella, it seems likely that he was inspired by war footage shown in movie newsreels to write a work that was not composed expressly for a soundtrack, but which possesses elements of a cinematographic telling. [ABSTRACT FROM PUBLISHER]
Cambridge Opera Journal. Jul2012, Vol. 24 Issue 2, p127-157. 31p.
IMPERIALISM & culture, CULTURAL history, PROPAGANDA, and HISTORIOGRAPHY
While the political impact of Italy's 1936 Ethiopian invasion has long been recognized, its cultural history has only recently come under scrutiny. This paper investigates one musical legacy of Mussolini's colonial project by means of a case study of Alfredo Casella's Il deserto tentato (The Attempted Desert, 1937). Performed on the first anniversary of the Empire's founding and dedicated to ‘Mussolini, fondatore dell'Impero’, the work depicts the arrival of a group of Italian airmen in Ethiopia and their welcome by the indigenous peoples. I set the text against contemporary propaganda such as speeches, visual imagery and popular song, exploring tropes central to fascist imperialist rhetoric: virility, civiltà and aeronautical prowess. The opera's integration of historical musical references into a modern musical setting not only represents the theme of endowing the Ethiopian people with a history, in this case embodied by the Italian musical past, but also exemplifies a contemporary desire to make the past present in everyday fascist life. The historiography of Casella's work, what is more, characterized by the same ‘missing debate’ as the broader discussion of Italian colonialism, raises questions about the effects of Italy's ‘memory wars’ on accounts of twentieth-century Italian music history. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]